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10 tips for discovering a meaningful second-act career

You asked; the UC Alumni Career Network listened. Our newest episode — produced via a LinkedIn Live for the very first time — touches on a topic that our followers have been hankering to know more about: Reinventing their career for a second act.

Regardless of your catalyst for change, the second act career is all about intention; defining what you want the next portion of your life to be. Vice Provost Yvette Gullatt and Merideth Mehlberg of the Merideth Mehlberg Group share what you need to know.

10 tips for discovering a meaningful second-act career

Whether you’re ready for a second-act career, or just planning ahead for the future, here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Be intentional

You may think that a career pivot requires a dramatic and immediate shift. A better approach is to reframe “following your passion” as a desire to live and work intentionally. Consider the values you want to honor through your everyday life and work. Then, assess the employment market and your local community’s needs. Imagine a Venn diagram with your values and passion in one circle and the market needs in another. Build your career at the point where these circles intersect.

2. Know what you’re optimizing for

Envision what you want your next career to look like, considering specifics such as:

  • What values do you want to honor?
  • What business problems do you want to solve?
  • What job responsibilities do you want to take on?
  • What type of work environment do you thrive in?
  • How would you like to be compensated?

Once you’ve answered these and other relevant questions, identify what’s non-negotiable, prioritize the things you want and define which qualities will need to be fulfilled for you to recognize a job as a fit.

3. Acknowledge what’s worked

You’ve probably enjoyed some elements of previous jobs but wanted fundamental changes in other areas. When envisioning your second-act career, consider that it might not need to be drastically different to meet the priorities you’ve defined through the optimization exercise. Reflect upon your previous positions. What was interesting and fulfilling there? How can you continue to be engaged in the activities you enjoyed in a new way?

4. Embrace the side-hustle

If you’re passionate about a hobby or creative endeavor and want to pursue it professionally, you don’t need to dive in head-first. Consider launching an entrepreneurial side-hustle within the security of your current role, then expanding when it takes off. For inspiration, check out online resources, like “The Side Hustle Show”, which highlight people who are actioning on their ideas. Meet and interview entrepreneurs who created successful businesses.

5. Be open to experimenting

You don’t need a solid strategy to seek your next career. Part of the process is trying out concepts and roles that are new to you. Schedule informational interviews with people who hold positions that match your interests to learn more about what these jobs are like. Ask open-ended questions that allow the interviewee to reflect. Use their answers to understand which roles will meet your priorities.

6. Build your network — outside of cyberspace

Career experts suggest that while nearly three-quarters of job-seekers focus on online job postings, only about 20% of jobs are posted there. Personal connections are needed for finding the remaining 80%. Revamp your connections — in person — and articulate what you’re seeking in your next role. Hate networking? Gamify the process by creating a self-incentive strategy; for example, after every 10 networking attempts, allow yourself to get a massage. The more you do it, the easier it will get. And, if a networking opportunity turns awkward, don’t psych yourself out; keep going!

7. Binge on positivity

When you’re ready to start your next career, it’s essential to get your mindset in a positive place. Saturate your personal media consumption with positive and uplifting stories, podcasts and videos. Get yourself in a positive mindset by exercising, volunteering and seeking therapy, if needed. Don’t get bogged down in past experiences. It takes a lot of energy and resilience to be proactive and begin a new career. Let go of any negativity holding you back.

8. Pitch your pivot

People will ask why you’re transforming your career, so it’s important to have a response. Provide a narrative for the interviewer to follow that incorporates an explanation of your passion and the ways in which your previous experiences bridge the new role. Your answer should demonstrate that your pivot is an intentional and discerning choice.

9. Reframe your resume

When building your resume, highlight your favorite two or three experiences or projects at each job. These may not be the most impressive, but that’s OK. Explain how each positive experience dovetails into your new career path. Before applying to each position, read through the job description, identify its themes and tailor your resume to speak to those themes, mirroring language from the job description if possible.

10. Stay motivated

You may find that your second-act career isn’t all you hoped it would be. Keep yourself motivated by developing a support system — a career coach, support group for fellow entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial-minded friends. Remember that other people have experienced your challenges before. Seek like-minded professionals who can share best practices and offer real-world advice. And, remember that your career pivot likely won’t take place overnight. It’s OK to scale back before you take it to the next level.

Are there professional topics you’d be interested in learning more about? Let us know as we plan for future LinkedIn Live chats.

LinkedIn Live: Discovering a Meaningful Second-Act Career

Like the tips? Watch the full video conversation, presented by the UC Alumni Career Network and Marketing Communications.

Advice to UC, from UC

The UC Alumni Career Network is a high-impact online series that gathers UC alumni systemwide to provide real-world professional advice on an array of career-driven topics. Join us for the next episode:

UC Alumni Career Network: Navigating career transition
Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, 12 – 1 p.m. (Pacific)

Are you looking for a career change? Re-entering the workforce after taking time off? Hoping to find a job that aligns your passion and skills? Navigating career transition can be a daunting task filled with complex questions and uncertainty. Join us online for the November UC Alumni Career Network webinar where Marcia Wall, UCSC ’92, career and academic counselor, will offer actionable tips and insights to help you prepare for a career pivot or job change. This session will focus on helping you identify your passion, assess your skills, identify market opportunities and help you position your background to land your next opportunity.

Register now!

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