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you-are-here 100directionsI recently had lunch with a new friend in a great spot in Charlotte*. We met a few weeks ago when she spotted me wearing the t-shirt of her childhood’s hometown major league baseball team. Soon we discovered a few commonalities: we’re from the same state, are close in age, have worked in similar roles and industries, and have both gone through some sort of big upheaval in the last few months.

My new friend—I’ll call her B—well, B’s company downsized her after a long tenure. After taking a few weeks to decompress and reassess, she is ready to jump back into the employment pool. We discussed the challenges of job hunting after having a few years experience under your belt – the career options, the changing business environment and forging connections.

We circled around the question of what exactly does one want to do after having a few decades of experience? Many coming out of college have the idea “I want to do XYZ” and go out and enthusiastically find that job. However, after doing XYZ for years, it’s natural to ponder whether you’re still passionate to remain in that field or industry. For B, the answer is yes. She loves what she’s been doing and wants to find a company that fits her skills and background.

We agreed it seemed easier to job hunt right out of college. That’s when (you think) you have great experience, tenacity and endless energy. I’m not saying as one ages the energy goes away; I think the energy is just better distributed. For example, young people can waste a lot of energy in the workplace. A mature person may accomplish more in the same amount of time because the task is performed more efficiently and with experience. I’ve heard this compared to the Tortoise and the Hare example – the tortoise wins the race with a slow, steady pace, knowing limits and working with them to succeed. The Tortoise has also learned alternative ways of solving problems.

Our discussion then moved on to some of the difficulties in finding the right position at the mid-stage of one’s career. We recognize honesty from the prospective company is important. Having experience provides an insight to and understanding of company politics and procedures that someone with less experience might not possess. Odds are if you’ve sat on the “other” side of the table, you can probably root out candy-coated explanations and read between the lines.

B is now going to make big waves in the career pool by marketing herself so hiring recruiters know she’s available. She’s ready to find a new opportunity that will continue to challenge her and develop her skills. After years in your chosen field, can you say you’d return to it?

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*The lunch spot was Alexander Michaels – a neighborhood tavern.

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