With regular pivots, would you see re-entry as a constant ongoing way of life?
Pivoting—the ability to successful navigate career and life changes—will be an ongoing way of life as every single industry has been disrupted and completely changed by big data and the digital revolution. Former Google Career Coach Jenny Blake discusses this in great depth in her new book, appropriately titled Pivot. Because people are now moving from job to job much more often than in the past, having the re-entry mindset (which includes a lot of individual outreach and self-reflection) will be critical, whether someone has taken time off to raise children, was caring for an elderly parents, lost a job or has taken time to make a major switch of industry or function. Baby Boomers—and people of all ages–need to be more nimble and adaptable when it comes to employment going forward.
The multiple career path seems like common sense to most younger people, and to most of the AGEIST gang. How do you approach someone who doesn’t yet see that?
Based on the career coaching clients, MBA students and alumni that I have worked with, many people understand the concept of pivoting but they still aren’t actually adapting to the idea of multiple career paths. Most people are inherently afraid of change, so that fear results in avoidance—and this avoidance stalls careers or ends them. I work with people to really understand their marketable skill set, to figure out their needs, goals and realistic options, and partner with them as a career coach to find and secure new career opportunities.
It is said that people today need a personal brand. This is a difficult idea to some people, as it fundamentally relates to their personal story and how they tell it, versus just a historical record of accomplishment.
When you think about it, those that we meet are always asking us to define ourselves by asking us: “What do you do for a living?” or a variation on that question. While some people in my field refer to the answer to this question as an “elevator pitch,” I call it a career narrative, because your answer—your story—has to be a concise, compelling and to-the-point story. And it must be interesting, relevant, informative and engaging. If you are older, you will need to compress years and even decades into several seconds when it comes to telling your career story. Our career narratives mostly focus on our historical record of achievement, but also integrate personal attributes in a subtle way. It takes quite a bit of thought—and considerable practice and effort to create a career narrative that demonstrates your personal and professional brand in a meaningful way in a professional context. I spend quite a bit of time working with UCLA Anderson alumni and my private career coaching clients on updating, upgrading and defining their career narratives as the answer has to be strong, interesting and seem unrehearsed. The career narrative is one of the more important parts of the career management process.
What are the commonalities you see between the successful younger people and the more experienced ones? Would a flexible openness be one of these traits?
Flexible openness is a great way to describe it. The greatest commonalities between successful younger and more experienced people that I have works with comes down to mindset again. I’ve continually seen that those who have a positive, growth-focused mindset and show enthusiasm for learning new business concepts will always be successful. Those that are mired in the past—from Millennials to Baby Boomers and beyond—will always have fewer options. For those that focus on “The Good Old Days” I like to ask them “Who gets value from you acting and thinking like an old person?” and “We can learn valuable lessons from the past, but why stay in the past endlessly? What’s the advantage to living in the past or living forever in a memory?” I’ve always believed in this simple line that has been attributed to Victorian writer George Elliot (the pen name for Mary Ann Evans):“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” That’s why I love reading the profiles in AGEIST. These great people that AGEIST features are living proof that your best days will be in front of you -- especially if you change the way you fundamentally look at your great life and your career.
We must remember: we’re all just getting going….