Emphatically not. Nancy Collamer, author of “Second-Act Careers,” lays out tools, including websites, for your next step and will inspire you to shape a new career. While many of the best-networked people of a certain age uncover opportunities wherever they go, you can succeed without one. Her book will help you explore an idea until you act on it or move forward on another.
Collamer, who’s also a coach and speaker, advocates defining a niche. Identify what you offer that differs from others in an industry or occupation.
“This is a particular area where you have in-depth knowledge,” she says, “making it much easier to stand out. Social media is allowing people to become king or queen of their niche domain.
“Also, it’s much easier for people to help you,” she adds. “You become known as a go-to person. Referrals come much more easily. Marketing is easier.”
This also makes finding your way in unfamiliar terrain smoother.
At 58, technology professional Mark Heavey of Gig Harbor, Wash., provides information technology support services to small businesses throughout the Seattle-Bellevue, Wash., area. Because of the trend to outsource and insource, the latter from such countries as India and China, he recommends to people of all ages that they retrain rather than continue in IT. He does have networking skills, but research was key.
Heavey has built a relationship with OnForce Inc., an online marketplace for short-term, onsite IT assignments. The Lexington, Mass., company supplies contracts in 99 percent of U.S. ZIP codes and four Canadian provinces. He’s been an independent contractor for OnForce since 2008.
“You apply to it,” Heavey says. “If they have a need in your geographical area, you get matched to buyers. I started on my own and then found OnForce through an industry publication. They give access to certain types of buyers, companies with national presence, but they needed someone in my area to represent them.”
He estimates he’s one of 40 OnForce independent contractors there. This year, Heavey says, he and the company negotiated a contract for “all of its business with one client in a 15-mile radius around Bellevue that I can handle.”
“Some days it’s more than others.”
He continues with other assignments through them — at this writing more than 300 this year alone.
You can’t silence your own questions about ageism, but you can place yourself where it positively influences hiring and contract decisions. Do research, like Heavey, and start by applying judiciously online.
“A person’s experience should be an asset, not a liability,” says RJon Robins, founder of howtomanageasmalllawfirm.com in Miami. He employs four people older than 55 and expects his next posting to draw four more.
Like Heavey, he focuses on “industry.” He draws candidates from an industry-specific job board that attracts people who’ve been in legal administration. Contractors will provide part-time home-based coaching services as managing partner, chief operating officer and chief financial officer for small law firms around the country. Compensation for the part-time contracts ranges from $75,000 to $100,000 per year.
If you can’t tell from a posting whether an employer is age-friendly, Collamer recommends eliciting information in interviews with an open mind.
“Take a list of questions,” she advises. “Have your antenna up. Ask about the traits they’re looking for. Listen for ‘high energy-level, very long hours, too expensive and too overqualified.’ ”
Meanwhile, she recommends, proceed with this spirit: “Here’s my niche, brand. I’m the go-to person for X.” Now, build your network.
Dr. Mildred L. Culp of WorkWise® welcomes your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2013 Passage Media.