Are you an older job-seeker who is currently looking for work? If so, you have likely faced your share of roadblocks and unfortunate stereotypes based upon your age alone. Yet, despite the discouraging experiences you may have encountered, a post-midlife job search can bring undeniable rewards: renewed energy and vigor, a sense of purpose and a fresh start. That is ... if you take the time to review your needs and wants, consider your options and follow your inner guidance to a fulfilling new job.
The years past midlife deepen us in many regards. We seek to enrich our lives, spend our time wisely and find real meaning and purpose from our endeavors. In truth, a job search in our later years may well provide us with the opportunity to find work that is satisfying on a personally profound, spiritual level as well as in a practical sense.
You can begin to chart your own course to greater meaning by taking the time to consider these three keys to finding job satisfaction:
#1. Perform a Career Review
Start by evaluating your previous work experiences. Assess your successes and frustrations and determine which aspects of your prior positions fulfilled you and which did not. This exercise will help you gain insights into your best choices for a satisfying future. So ask yourself the following...
- Which aspects of your previous jobs fulfilled you the most?
- Which parts of your work did you dislike and want to avoid in the future?
- Are you pursuing the right goals for the person you are today? Why/why not?
- Should you remain in the same job/industry or should you investigate new occupations/fields? Why/why not?
- Where would you like to be in 5 years?
- Which goals do you hope to accomplish by the end of your career?
#2. Get Clear on the Practical Realities
You also want to target your job search to meet your top priorities in a practical sense.
- What type of lifestyle do you want? Are you willing to do what it takes in terms of time and effort to achieve this outcome?
- What is your desired salary?
- How far are you willing to commute?
- How much of your time are you willing to devote to travel?
- What types of benefits do you need?
- How will your family responsibilities affect your choices?
#3. Pinpoint and Prioritize Your Current Values
To ensure that your work is meaningful to you at this time in your life, you will want to get very clear on your current values. As we age, our values typically shift from external rewards (compensation, title, influence) to those of a more internal nature (job satisfaction, helping others, making a difference).
Make a list of your top six values and get crystal clear on the aspects of work that will add meaning to your life. Consider things like...
- Is a large amount of social interaction important to you?
- Do you need a friendly, supportive work environment?
- Would helping and/or developing others energize you and fill you with a sense of purpose?
- Are opportunities to solve complex problems and other forms of mental stimulation things that excite you?
- Do you value aesthetics and crave the possibility for creative self-expression?
- Do you want a fairly structured job routine or would you prefer a more spontaneous environment?
- Are you best at detailed work and want the satisfaction of being known as the person to get things done correctly and on-time?
- Do you hope to exert a certain amount of influence and power over others in your job?
- Do you do your best when you work independently or do you prefer to work in a team?
- Are flexibility and a certain amount of time freedom important for you?
- Do you need to see a tangible result from your efforts?
- Do you thrive on outdoor, action-oriented work?
- Which elements of work will give you the greatest satisfaction?
The clearer you are about your own goals, the more you will appear as smart, self-assured, and professional. Moreover, it is best to review your wants and needs on a consistent basis. In this way, you will continually focus in on what you truly hope to find and can learn to articulate your strengths and goals with ease.
By using these three keys to determine your ultimate objectives, you will also have a benchmark allowing you to evaluate offers. The more the position is likely to meet your career aspirations, practical realities and current values, the happier you will be.
So be proactive, follow your inner guidance and get very clear on what you want. After all, at this time in your life, you deserve to find work that lifts your spirits, gives you energy and provides you with a sense of meaning. You are a mature job-seeker and this is your opportunity to find real fulfillment from your work. Now, more than ever before, is the time and this is the job search to carpe diem!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty plus years of experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in 2014, it's packed with critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!