Finding My Career Sweet Spot at 50The past couple of weeks, I have had a flurry of interviews. I know this is a good thing, but in the strange “between jobs” netherworld that I occupy, it doesn’t feel good at all. As I waited, interviews looming in my near future, I manically prepped. I started with trying on all the suits in my closet, realizing that they were not only several years out of date, but also frumpy and ill fitting. I finally settled on a black pencil skirt, a black shell, and a houndstooth sweater jacket (also known as a swacket) as my go-to outfit. The bigger problem was shoes. Anything comfortable looks like a job for the cankle-police and anything fashionable looks like something Christina Aguilera would wear on The Voice. But I digress, as this is more a topic for a fashion blog—or for another dream-job blog. (Fantasy interlude: I go to Italy and apprentice with the best shoemakers and actually design the perfect stylish, comfortable women’s work shoe. It becomes a bestseller. I get rich, just like Sarah Blakely, the inventor of Spanx, and I get interviewed for Oprah’s Next Chapter as a wildly successful entrepreneur.)

The outfit turned out to be the least of my worries. One interview was pleasant enough, but I got an odd feeling that something wasn’t quite right. The offices seemed eerily quiet, the job description was vague, and when I did some background checking people I trusted told me to “proceed with caution.” I opted out. The next interview came out of left field. A recruiter I had met six months ago called, urging me to interview for an unlikely job. As it turns out, I liked the people but was not so sure about the job, as it would require focusing on one issue all day long. I like variety. In addition, the commute was just plain undesirable. I was invited back for a second interview but didn’t ultimately get the job. Truthfully, their decision saved me from the agony of turning down a job I wasn’t sure I wanted.

The third interview came after more than a month of talking with a search firm. On paper and as presented by the recruiters, this job was a perfect match for me. The firm’s principal even asked me to delay the interview by a day so he could help me prepare. Wow, was I flattered! We had a terrific prep session, and I left feeling grateful for his support and totally prepared to knock it out of the park.

As it turned out, the chemistry was all wrong. To start, the interviewer described herself as a “numbers person”, while I described myself as a “people person”. To add insult to injury, she told me that she intended to bring candidates back another four to five times because she couldn’t afford to “make a mistake.” I had gone through three interviews before I even met with her! I was dejected.

This left me wondering, “What is the universe trying to tell me?” Switch gears? Keep trying? Wear Spanx? Sell Spanx? I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that I need to find a job. This time I won’t be as naïve. I’ll be slightly wary of recruiters, remembering that they work for their client and not for me. I’ll be more clear about my goals and motivations and not as eager to please. I am bouncing back more quickly these days, and I know a job that’s imperfect, in just the ways I need it to be, is right around the corner.

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