Retooling Your Skills for a New Career (Part 1)

September 15, 2017  |  No Comments  |  by Terrylynn Smith  |  Blog


Sometimes we choose change; other times, change is thrust upon us. No one understands this truth better than people who have switched careers at some point in their lives. Whether you submit your resignation letter or get handed a pink slip, the idea of staring over in a new career can be just plain scary.

Interestingly enough, the fear factor doesn’t seem to be much different whether we choose to leave a comfortable position at a company, or whether the company terminates our position for some reason. In one case, we have the ability to anticipate the change; in the other, it feels more sudden. But the truth is, both prospects feel equally frightening. This fear can be enhanced even further when we’ve worked in a certain profession long enough that we have started to draw our identity from it. “I’ve been a ______ for my whole life; what do I do now??”

What You Do Is Not Who You Are

If any of this describes you, let’s start with some good news that may start alleviating some of that fear: Your identity does not hinge on your career. What you do is not who you are. You are exactly the same person the first day off the job as you were the last day on it. You have the same qualities, the same characteristics, the same nature that defines you as a person. All that’s changed is your circumstance.

Same Talents, New Setting

Here’s another bit of good news: Your talents and skills haven’t gone away, either. The things that made you good at your job are still very much in play. To discover a new career, you simply need to reimagine those talents in a new setting. This can happen in one of three ways:

  1. You can try to get a similar job with another company; or
  2. You can reimagine your skills for another kind of job; or
  3. You can completely change the setting and find new ways to exploit your talents—perhaps even go into business for yourself.

This is a situation with which I am personally familiar. If you know my story at all, you know that I worked for two decades as a human resources executive before a company merger made my job position redundant. Thankfully, I saw the writing on the wall and started planning for this before it happened; other people aren’t so fortunate to get the same kind of warning. But as I said, it was no less frightening. Perhaps with my experience I could have landed a new HR position at a new company, but another factor was my age. I was already in my 60s when this happened.

My solution? I discovered that becoming a life and career coach enlisted most of the same skills and talents I had used when working in human resources. In fact, my HR experience makes me very good at what I do! I simply had to open my mind and heart and see how my talents could be used in a new setting.

In the next post on this topic, I’ll offer a few more examples of what retooling your skills for a new career might look like, so you can begin to see your options are greater than you might have imagined. As always, I’m available to answer any immediate questions. Give me a call at 646-320-1126.

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