Human Resources

Finding My Career Sweet Spot at 50: Gallon Sized People

Finding My Career Sweet Spot at 50In Annie Hall, Woody Allen says that relationships are like sharks, “they have to keep moving forward or they die.” Careers are like that, too. After all, what is a career if not a complicated ocean of relationships? When we leave a job, some relationships end and others begin. We spend 40+ hours a week with our coworkers, we travel together, we socialize. But for the majority of us, when we leave a job, the relationships we have created die a slow death at the bottom of the ocean (or Rolodex for humans) and new ones take their place.

I count myself lucky to have left each job with a handful of life-long friends and dozens of colleagues. There are certain people who I can reconnect with after five, ten, or even 20 years who are happy to help with a reference, a kind word, or a job lead. In addition to the many people I count in my extended community, my job search has introduced me to dozens of helpful new people. I am grateful to those of you who have taken the time to talk with me, read this blog, share experiences and advice, and open doors for me. Your positive feedback has overwhelmed the “no’s,” and my confidence has been boosted far beyond what it was when I was working.

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I recently heard Bishop T.D. Jakes talk about two kinds of people: gallon-sized people and pint-sized people. He didn’t mean physical bulk, but rather about a person’s capacity to give. Jakes says if you are a gallon person you need to surround yourself with other gallons. So, thank you to all you the Gallons out there—my gallon cup runs over!

Although writing my résumé has been all about what I accomplished in my past jobs (outputs, products, what difference did it make that I work there?), it doesn’t begin to capture the real value of the days I have logged in the workforce— especially the people I met along the way. Along with old friends and colleagues, I have been amazed by “the kindness of strangers.” For example, several years ago I met Jason through an alumni network, when he was going through a career change. He remembered that I was helpful to him and hearing about my current job search, he reached out. Now a successful career coach, he helped me focus my résumé and job search when I was flailing. He also gave me heartening feedback: “With two short months under your belt, you have more than kicked the tires of your job search. I commend you on how you dove in and got to work. Kudos to you.”

Additionally, people from The Balanced WorkLife Company reached out and offered to give me the DISC assessment tool and a pro bono 90-minute consultation. Carol, one of the coaches, provided me with many helpful insights into how I work best. She reminded me that I like to work with people—that’s where I shine, so I can’t let my job search keep me home and isolated. She also reminded me that I don’t like red tape and bureaucracy. Jason backed this up when he looked at my employment patterns and noted that I have always worked for small organizations. Early on in my search, I was applying for jobs at larger organizations thinking they would be more financially stable. I wasn’t getting much response, and, as Jason pointed out, I probably wouldn’t be happy in these large organizations.

Hillary Clinton was right when she said, “It takes a village.” I’m just grateful for all of you are in my village. Now, back to the interviewing, the networking, the Search. I think I’m getting better at it. And when I choose my next workplace, it will be as much about the people as about the job.

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