Career Transitions at 50+: My Story
Forty years with the same company. How is that possible?
It is March 31, 2015, I am in my home office in Richmond, Virginia. It is my last day with DuPont. The company is involved in a buyout and will be re-engineering itself over the next four years.
I elected not to search for a position inside DuPont, instead, I took retirement and began my quest for something new. I am 62 years young, with our daughter starting college in a year, and my wife and I are considering downsizing. What am I going to do now?
I received services for writing resumes and LinkedIn profiles. I attended weekly group meetings, like Career Prospectors and Job Assistance Ministry, with other job seekers.
Not knowing what I wanted to do, I chose to first look at my long history of accomplishments; previous performance reviews, my awards, my certifications, and 360-feedback from work colleagues. I created a process called, a “Post-It Note assessment”. I wrote one accomplishment per Post-It note and stuck it to my office wall. I repeated these steps until I couldn’t think of anything else to write.
I then removed Post-Its if they were: (1) Things I did not like doing (2) Things I did not do well (3) Things I don’t want to do again. Left on the wall are things (1) I liked doing (2) I wanted to do again (3) I enjoyed doing. I aggregated the Post-Its into themes: Tasks dealing with technology or with people, activities requiring travel, supervisory roles, working in teams and tasks I could perform remotely is just a sampling. My key accomplishments became what I wanted to do in the future.
I then decided to work only short-term projects, as a consultant. In two months, an opportunity at a state agency surfaced. My days consisted of listening, asking questions, and interpreting what I heard into diagrams of current state processes. Unfortunately, six weeks from starting this assignment, it ended, due to lack of funding.
In late 2015, I was approached by a staffing firm with a six-month assignment for another state agency. I wrote operating procedures. I conducted a transactional audit of financial documents; matching processes against written procedures. I issued a survey to all agency personnel and presented the results to leadership.
Early October 2016, a recruiter contacted me about another contract position. I joined a software development initiative at Capital One by the end of the month. I wrote new or modified existing operating procedures. I learned day-to-day operations of an Agile Software Development cycle. I created Word documents and process diagrams. This was a fast paced, frenetic environment, but I stood up to the challenge and garnered team support to get the job done. End of 2017.
I considered starting my own coaching business and spoke with an attorney. I met with job, life, and business coaches to learn what they did and whether I had what it takes to be a career coach. Without hesitation, everyone affirmed my career conviction and my passion.
I decided to be an entrepreneur, I chose a company name, filed the paperwork, and was in business by the end of May 2017. I had already helped 200+ colleagues with their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. I attended networking events, wrote articles on LinkedIn, volunteered at career fairs and university-based workshops.
It’s June 2019. I gave away more in my first year than I brought in, but I was the richer for the colleagues, friends, and connections I’ve made. To share my “gold nuggets” of career transition has been a blessing. I love seeing the “light bulb” go on when colleagues get it and finally understand that it is not about their job search, but it is about solving a problem for someone else.
In Simon Sinek’s The Golden Circle, he says people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. Here is my WHY:
I believe everyone deserves to know
how to prepare for their job search
and transition to their next job.
How to get from where they are
to where they want to be.
A great leader can’t lead someone
down a path toward a destination they
have not already traveled.
I am that leader
and I will walk beside you
to show you the way.
Let’s take a walk and find your WHY.