Reinventing Yourself in the New Economy: Career Survival Strategies

John A. Vardalas, CAE Founder/CEO, The American Boomer Group

Reinventing yourself is no longer a career strategy reserved for Hollywood entertainers or politicians. In today’s economy it’s necessary for survival. About one half of all Americans 45 to 54 years old reports being dissatisfied with their jobs, according to a recent survey by the Conference Board, a research organization based in New York.

Even though the economy is picking up speed, economists are forecasting a jobless expansion in some industries for the next few years. During the last economic down-turn, organizations paid the price for maintaining large staffs; they are reluctant to “staff up” again. The result is that lay-offs and downsizing will continue to be commonplace, and for Boomers, “Work-Tirement” will be part of our new golden years. Part-time workers will be in demand.

If you are unhappy with your job and your intuition tells you a job layoff is imminent, it’s a good idea to have a strategy to maintain your professional and personal edge. And if you’re considering a career change, there are actions to take to make this hap-pen. Don’t be bitter, make yourself better. In a nutshell, you’ll want to be prepared to reinvent yourself.

Conduct a Professional & Personal Development Inventory

Make an honest assessment of your market-able skills and determine which can be transferred to another career. Networking is critical to professional development and potential career change. Most people find a new job through personal contacts. Ask your friends and colleagues about opportunities in the areas you are interested in pursuing. Think of your network as your personal database that needs to be continually refined and updated.

Identify Your Professional Goals

What do you really want to be doing with the next five, ten years of your life? The days of lifelong employment are a thing of the past—most of us will have several careers in our work life.

If you are considering a new career, re-search what additional skills and training do you need to bring to the employment table?

Additional training doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school, but it could mean courses at night, weekends or online. After conducting your inventory, it may include technical and online courses, training in a new technology, or advanced college coursework. Volunteer work is a great way to obtain both skills and experience. It’s an inexpensive method of trying out a new career without a large professional or emotional investment. It’s also a way to make new connections.

Develop the Ability to Respond to Change

Change is hard for everybody—it is one constant that pervades our professional and personal lives. Change is the business world. The work environment will continue to change rapidly and you need to adapt or be left behind. “Mobility/remote readiness” is trait of successful professionals; it is the ability and willingness to make a geographical move rather than staying in the same place of your birth, family or first job. Successful professionals sometimes need to sacrifice comfort or location to follow career opportunities. Technology also has made location less of a factor.

Develop flexibility to be able to adapt and adjust to changing situations and different work patterns so you are not tied to a particular job or type of organization. Starting a new career can mean a smaller paycheck and less prestige. It’s a good idea to have savings for at least six months of living expenses for a safety net.

Become a survivor—one with resiliency who is not thrown by crisis, defeats, or failures. You want to bounce back, learn from failure, and realize things could be worse—keep a positive attitude and Never Let Go of Your Dreams! (And if all else fails, you can always hire yourself and create your own future!)

Note: Opportunities Will Be There….as the Baby Boomer generation approaches retirement age, the pool of replacement workers will not be large enough to meet employer’s demands.

Strategies to Improve Your Economic Prospects

  • Keep Up Your Skills
  • Do Not Limit Yourself to One Employment Sector
  • Market Yourself
  • Build Networks & Keep Up with Technology
  • Learn to Live Beneath Your Means
  • Learn to Think Outside the Organizational Box
  • Reward Yourself Periodically by Celebrating Your Accomplishments
  • Make Yourself a Valued Employee by Stepping Up & Doing More