A brilliant guest blog post from Cathy Barrow, a Career Transition Consultant and Author Of the Book and Audio Series ‘Finding the Perfect Career 7 steps to get you cracking towards a job you love when you are out of Work.’ To contact Cathy please go to www.cathybarrow.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am 55 years old and have experienced my greatest career growth in my last decade. This is the first time I have mentioned my age in a public forum which is slightly confronting as I am a woman and very vain! However I want to try and dispel the myth much of our society has with regard to the employability of people over 50. Fifty is regarded by our society on the whole as being ready to be put out to pasture or getting out of the way for a younger person Speaking of such things, it might be a different story being put out to pasture if my name was Black Caviar!
Our society is very age and beauty focused and generally stamps the over 50’s with a past their use by date. Today there are many baby boomers over 50 still working due to divorce and losing money with the stock market crashes of the early 90’s and in the last three years due to the effects of the Global Financial Crisis and those who choose to.
The best way for me to demonstrate that age is no barrier when it comes to gaining employment and indeed changing careers is to tell you my story of my last decade.
My background was teaching fitness classes for 23 years part time, whilst I bought up my 2 daughters. During that time I divorced and had a child with my second husband and looked after my three daughters and my two step children sometimes, so not a lot of time for careers outside those parameters! I loved my fitness classes, however could not make a full time living from it. I have been very fortunate to have a husband with a good job who is still working at 60!
I have always been one to research and read in order to try and find out what I could do career wise now that I only had one child at home. For us women, there is a wonderful saying I love and it is ‘You can have it all, but not all at once.’ I needed the job to be close by so it fitted in with the demands of my 11 year old. I was always interested in real estate and so I completed the Certificate IV in Property Management and Real Estate in 2005. I rang the local real estate agent and suggested that he needed a personal assistant me!
I guess being a little bit delusional helps at times like this. I had little idea of what a PA did and when he read out all of the tasks I had to perform at the interview I just nodded my head, whilst not having a clue about what he was describing. I was there for around 14 months and I hated it, my admin skills were woeful and my maths skills not much better when it came to working out commissions. My boss was completely processed orientated to the nth degree with me having to compose six drafts of something before I got it right. That job ended in tears, but the point was I had a go and learnt about what I was not suited to do. You don’t have to go through that experience to discover your dream job!
Next up our local pool and holiday units took my interest as they were in a state of disrepair and I thought I could help turn the business around, still delusional but not defeated after the PA job. I wrote a proposal, it was accepted and I was the Manager for three years. I really enjoyed it and was good at because I had the fitness knowledge and people skills. However looking forward again, I enrolled for a Life Coaching course in 2009 to get some more clarity about future directions for me. It attracted me greatly as I had been making people feel better physically for years, why not marry the two and learn how to coach people at an intellectual level as well?
It was the best thing I ever did if only to learn new attitudes and strategies to deal with challenges in my life. After I finished the course I did not coach people as did not feel ready, however I did go back into real estate and became a sales rep for eighteen months which I really enjoyed except for the lousy pay and working weekends. Again this was a people job something I was really good at. I still wanted to coach somehow and then I thought what about teaching adults where I could use my coaching skills?
I completed my Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment and have been teaching Work Education to long term unemployed people for two and a half years. I love it although it is very challenging as these folks have huge barriers mental and physical. I feel really good because they tell me they now have a sense of purpose and someone who cares. Whilst I was doing this I wrote my book and am building my job consultancy in the background and learned a hell of a lot about the internet which I love and the internet doesn’t care how old you are!
I guess through my story you can join the dots and see the overriding passion for me is being with people and one of my core values is love and connections. You need to join your dots.
If you are over 50 and changing careers or re-entering the workforce you do need to be realistic and look at the careers that abound for our age group like Aged Care, Nursing, Counselling, Education, Sales and Home Businesses, offline or online. You may also have to lower your expectations regarding how many hours you work or how much you earn. Be proud of your age and your experience, do your research and get out there you young things!