Here are a few career-building tips based on people IFO has met. These tips work for people with or without college degrees. There have been changes in the employment picture, but many experts are missing these trends:
Tip #1 – Mine your past. For middle-aged people, the hardest of all blows to come back from is losing a long-time successful business. We interviewed a guy, 58, who put all of his skills and experience together and is building a new business in another state. Don’t know whether he has a college degree, but given his early life, even if he does, it’s probably in something like 13th Century Albigensian poetry or Philosophy.
His experience includes owning a plant store, a gift store, a natural foods store and working as a chef for celebrities. Now, he and his partner/wife have bought a long-vacant fruit stand and are making a go of it. They are also growing their own food and intend to can and sell some.
Tip #2 – Take a specialized class to learn how to run a business based on your values, interests and talents. This couple – the woman, 32, has a bachelor’s degree in a topic somewhat related to their business, and the man, 34, is going to a community college (vain pursuit, in our opinion) and training in the industry their business will be attached to – has done just that.
Their industry? Mixed martial arts. Their business? Selling t-shirts with MMA designs. If they don’t make it in this endeavor, they’ll have good experience for trying another tack.
Tip #3 – If you are very experienced in your field and love it, as IFO does, all you need to do is go to a conference put on by your professional society. That will revive your flagging energy and inspire you to go out and find those new freelance markets!
Tip #4 – Become an expert in your in-demand field, keep your options open and your resume up-to-date and circulating. Employers will find you. Our example has no college degree. He’s fairly young, 38, but has been working in a field that has interested him since he was 10. His fifth employer just found him. Each new job is more money, more prestige and/or more fun. How cool is that?
Tip #5 – Continuously improve. We end with another 50+ year old guy who has been working at the same job for more than 30 years, after a very rocky start in life. No college. Bad habits. Spotty early employment record. Was offered a management position. Turned it down, but he loves making his customers smile and his supervisors happy. He may join a friend in starting a side business fixing cars. It’s not for the money. It’s for the fun and learning experience.
Okay! No more whining! Get out there and do it!