I was sitting at my local Starbucks this weekend. I started chatting with acquaintance, who I met as another customer, as he was waiting for his drink. He mentioned that he was looking to change jobs. He made the comment that at age 55 it was difficult to even get an interview, let alone a new job. I commiserated with him and told him that many of my friends had similar experience. I did tell him however, that the ones that were successful generally had a secret.
Reinvention is the secret
Peter Drucker said that in today’s world many of us are knowledge workers. Unfortunately knowledge becomes obsolescent very rapidly. What you learned in college, in fact what you learned just three years ago is very likely not useful. He said, in addition, we change as people. We “become different persons with different needs, different abilities, different perspectives and, therefore, with a need to ‘reinvent themselves.’” My wife reinvented herself at the age of 60, acquiring an entirely new skill set that allowed her to apply her analytical abilities. That served her well when her company went bankrupt and eliminated her position. Because of what she had done she was reemployed at the age of 62 within in less than two months. The skill she acquired is in such hot demand that she is still getting calls from recruiters as she approaches 65.
I told my friend to take heart, he just needed to look beyond what he had been doing and imagine what he could be doing and find a route to reinventing himself in such a position. As Drucker said “You have to make something different out of yourself, rather than just find a new supply of energy.” Unfortunately too few work hard at becoming something different and try to fall back on what we had been.