Job satisfaction isn’t a typical state of mind for most U.S. workers, according to the The Conference Board’s 2015 Job Satisfaction survey. They found 48.3 percent of U.S. workers are satisfied with their jobs. While that is an increase of 0.6 percentage points from 2014, it still leaves the majority (51.7) of U.S. workers dissatisfied with their work.
If you’re over 50 and seeking a more satisfying work experience, you’re in good company, but you may face challenges many younger, job hopping workers may not see as obstacles. You could be worried your age will make it difficult to find a new position, or your salary requirements and family situation prevent you from taking risks that may or may not pay off in the long run.
How can you find that seemingly allusive job satisfaction? Take control and don’t let anyone tell you it’s too late to do something you enjoy in an organization that appreciates you. Despite perceived (or real) challenges, you can take steps to drive your own career bus, no matter what your age.
Determine What’s Making You Unhappy
What, specifically, do you not enjoy about your current job? Is it the work itself, the people or the company? What would need to change to help you feel more satisfied at work. Once you understand the problem, it’s a lot easier to search for a solution. Discuss your findings with a trusted advisor or friend. Is it possible for you to make a change to improve the current situation? Is there anything in your control that you can change? For example, if you’d like more flexibility, is it reasonable to assume you can get it? If your boss is the problem, can you negotiate a transfer to a different department? If there’s nothing redeeming about your job, start thinking about an exit strategy, but if there’s something specific that can make your current situation better, you’ll want to look there, first.
Would You Be Happier Working on A New Challenge?
If you’ve been doing the same job for a long time, you may be bored with your work. Do you really need a new job to get excited about work again? Perhaps, but if that isn’t your first choice, think about how you can make the most of your existing situation. Can you volunteer for a new project? Maybe you can suggest a new initiative and offer to head it up. Or, maybe there’s an interesting committee you might want to join? Find something that engages you and taps into your interests and you could be able to find job satisfaction right where you are.
Take a Class
Learning something new has the potential to help in two ways. New skills may get you excited about what you’re doing. Maybe you can learn how to do something you’ve always done in a new way. Simultaneously, your training may help qualify you for a new position. It could be your ticket to job satisfaction that has eluded you thus far.
Plan Your Exit Strategy
Maybe there’s nothing redeeming about your job, and leaving is the only way to achieve job satisfaction. Don’t convince yourself that your age prevents you from landing a new job. Age discrimination isn’t a myth, but it’s not something you can’t overcome. Update your resume so it’s modern and targeted. If you’re worried about age discrimination, don’t start your resume with, “Over 25 years of experience in ______.” Do not try to hide your age via a “functional” resume that mashes up your skills without detailing when and where you gained them. Focus on your most recent and relevant 10 years of work history and make a strong case for your candidacy.
Use social media to demonstrate your expertise and to connect with people who might be able to share useful information or introductions. Prepare to participate in a video interview, and make sure you’re tuned into what skills your targeted employers are seeking. They likely want to know you’re flexible and able to learn new things. However, they’re probably even more interested in what you already know. Your years of experience are an asset, not a liability. Make sure you market your accomplishments correctly, and it will be easier to overcome potential objections due to your age.
It it easy to make a change, or to follow your dreams to a new position? No. Is it possible? Of course! It’s just a matter of how much work, time and effort you’re willing to put in. Don’t let negativity prevent you from moving on. Use your energy to identify and emphasize your unique value proposition. Be able to answer the question, “What makes you more qualified than anyone else for the targeted job?”
You are the only one who can make the change you deserve in your career. Don’t delay. Take steps toward career and job success and you won’t be sorry.
Today’s post is in honor of Job Action Day, a day for all job-seekers and workers to take stock of their situations and make plans and/or take action steps to improve their careers. Many of my colleagues are sharing ideas about how to find job satisfaction over 50. I’m delighted to be invited to contribute and to suggest you visit other posts about the topic.