How To Market Yourself When You Are at Middle Age Changing Careers?
When you take a leave of absence from your field, getting back can feel impossible.
I have to admit, I’m no expert. The more experts I meet, I can tell you that I don’t exactly match up. This is because I’ve been around the block more than a few times to know that no matter how experienced I was in my ex-career, a few years of absence from that career renders me obsolete. After a few years, I’m as ancient as a dinosaur standing next to the 28 years old who is at her prime managing a team in a startup.
Why do people assume that people like me, a middle-aged woman, who took time out from Corporate America to raise a family will have nothing to contribute to the age of innovation now?
The truth is that it’s hard to erase experience. Once experience is internalized, you can be damn sure that people can spot that a mile away.
At the beginning of my career transition, I had doubts. I didn’t know that my years of “looking for myself” and getting education that I haven’t made use of “for my interest” would one day come in handy in my new career or in my new life.
But, the beauty of a career change in midlife is that you discover parts of yourself that you never thought existed. It takes you back to your 20 years old self that you missed.
This is why marketing yourself at this junction is important. The best advice that I’ve received about marketing myself is that good marketing doesn’t feel like marketing. It simply feels like your skills, your passion, and your ambition are being discovered.
You are not exactly packaging yourself. Instead, you are simply showing the world who you are, what you want to do with your life, and what you can contribute.
This is the hardest part of a career transition. Most of us, when at middle age don’t know what we want anymore. Our dreams, the ones we thought we would achieve by now are now diluted in between raising kids and other passions we’ve found in our spare time.
I took several years to take stock when I turned 35. For me, that was a gift of a lifetime. Without that time and the perspectives that I’ve gained, I would not be the person that I am today.
During that time, I meditated daily, lived a quiet life with my dog and related to people that I’ve never related to before. Had I stayed at my full-time job and didn’t embark on a journey of change, I would’ve been stuck.
What can you do to feel alive today? That’s the question I asked myself one day and I did not look back since.
Embark On Your Adventure
After I took stock, I realized that my life was going to be turned upside down. I reached for books by Brene Brown to help me navigate all the changes. It worked. After several years of proactively turning my relationships upside down and living according to my terms, I felt renewed.
My sense of optimism about the future returned.
Since then, I’ve felt my authentic self re-emerge. My decisions since that time have been uncompromising in every sense. Often, when other people didn’t think I could make it, I did. Often, when people misunderstood me, I kept marching on. I didn’t give up because I knew that my confidence at this point was hard-won.
It was my years of taking stock that allowed me to re-orient my life towards a new future.
The sacrifices that I’ve made along the way made me doubt myself several times over. But, in the end, I always returned to the same question, “Am I going to regret this in a few years?”
Reach Out To Others Who Are Like You
The best way to market who you are once you find your direction is simply to reach out to people who are like you. If you are ambitious, find ambitious people. Once I reached out to people who I admired, my world changed.
Countless people in this world don’t share your opinions, who disagree with you, who stand firm in their convictions, but they are just like you.
These are the people that you want to work with. After a lifetime of navigating my career amidst different types of environments, I came to appreciate people who I admire, who I want to be, and who are like me.
When I can have a good debate with someone about anything at all, that’s a conversation worth having. In my mind, I rather work 100 hours a week with people I enjoy working with than work 20 hours a week with people who I don’t enjoy working with.
When you find these people, you know immediately. I work remotely. When I have inspired conversations over Zoom, I don’t want to end the meeting.
Yes. It’s that good. So, find those people.
The greatest lesson I learned in my mid-life transition is that there’s no one way to embark on a career. The old path of getting a degree and then graduating with an entry-level job no longer applies.
Instead, what replaced it is paths coming from many directions leading to the same goal. I’ve heard of startup founders who founded their company from doing a Linkedin survey. Other writers have found their ways into the film industry by writing for influencers or shows. Just last week, I met a kick-ass technologist who is in the frontier of emerging technology because her acting career didn’t work out.
The beginning of a career is always talking to people, making connections, and showing interest. Then, it is learning, learning, and learning some more.
Honestly, whatever creative solutions you come up with trying to get your next job, starting your next company or implementing your next idea, just try to focus on what you want to achieve.
You are far more creative now that you have all of that experience from your ex-career.
So, it’s quite simple really. Marketing yourself at mid-career is not hard. You should try to understand who you are and embark on the projects that you love. When your work and who you show up at every single meeting that you have, you are automatically marketing yourself to everyone around you. Opportunities will come knocking on your door. It may take a little time. But, it’s worth it.