by Maggie Hammond
Even if you have a job you love, it may be a good idea to focus on evolving. “Reinvention is different later in your career. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible,” says Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You. “In fact, it’s increasingly essential for any professional who aspires to remain in the workforce for any length of time.”
The reality is that you have to reinvent yourself professionally in order to remain relevant and valuable to your employer. Whether you are already in a job you love, or you want to work your way there, here are some tips for building your dream career — even when you are starting late.
Have a Plan
One of the advantages of being older is that you realize the value of time and just how much time you have. Use that fact to your advantage and develop a game plan to get you to where you want to go. Take the time to research a path for your career and map out how you could get there.
Invest in Yourself
You may also have more disposable income that you can use to invest in yourself — be it earning a PhD or getting braces. Use that. You may be able to take advantage of opportunities in your later years that you never even dreamed about when you were younger, like moving to a new country, relocating to a city center, or earning professional certifications.
John Tarnoff, author of Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50, says that acquiring new skills is one of your best opportunities to build your dream career. “The word ‘reinvention’ generally stops me cold,” writes Tarnoff. “I believe that with a little soul-searching about what you have to offer and opening up your mind to the possibilities, you have the capacity to redeploy your skills in a new direction, to a new field and type of job. You will, though, need to learn new skills and ramp up the ones you have.”
While in some cases learning new skills will involve bolstering the knowledge you already have, you may also need to “get hip” and educate yourself about the trends happening around you. Social media is a good example of this. To compete in the modern world of business, you will need to have a profile and a presence on social media. You will also need to monitor and manage your “shadow resume” on Google. Reputation is the new resume.
Finally, spend some time leveraging your networks. You may only be a single degree of separation from your dream job or the connection that gets you there. The ability to do this is something author Joshua Cooper Ramo calls “The Seventh Sense” for how critical it is in business. The idea is that by activating your network — reaching out to people you’ve met or with whom you’ve worked — you can become a player in the ever moving cog that is your industry and ultimately level up into a new and better position.
Building your dream career is not a goal for the young — or at least not exclusively. No matter how old you are, there are things you can do to reinvent yourself and redefine your professional goals.