Career Hope For Fortyandfiftysomethings

Dan Lyons the former tech writer for Newsweek recently completed a hilarious book on his time at Hubspot, a new media company, populated by twentysomethings and their millennial ways.  I’m not sure if you should read it if you are over forty because despite its humor it describes the very true realities of many forty and fiftysomethings in today’s workplace.

Let me start with some good news before I discuss Disrupted.  While Career Counseling Connecticut has more recent college graduates than any other type of client – which makes sense as twentysomethings generally are in the need of the most help – the counselors at Career Counseling Connecticut always say that the most satisfying work has been pulling up a distraught, anxious, panicked older worker seeking to reinvent and showing them the way to a happy new career. I’m mindful that the struggles involved are not captured in the last sentence.  The journey to the new career involves dealing with the unknown, feeling inadequate, worries of failure, financial panic, and the variety of challenges that trigger our collective over-active flight or fight response.

Lyons describes “the call” (for what others might be “the meeting”) when his career dramatically shifted.  He and his wife were planning a big summer vacation and were discussing his wife’s recent departure from work to care for their young children.  His “friend” for over 20 years was his boss. She texted him to call her right away. The rest of the story recreates the horror that anyone who has ever been unexpectedly terminated goes through. Lyons was 51 at the time. Even odder, from his perspective, he was shocked.  He “knew” he shouldn’t be surprised.  He was a writer about the business world and had written countless stories of layoffs, understood that the media business was in peril, and that 50 somethings were the first ones to go.

Two lessons: (1) for those that are already in transition, there is hope.  You can build a new career and we can help.  (2) for those that are forty or fiftysomething and understand the shaky foundations of the new career contract, the time to start planning is now.  We can help here as well.