Brutal Reality

Over the past year or so, I have been attempting to fulfill my dream of working in a “second career” that is in the social sector space. Coming from 29 years of corporate America and addition 8 years of military experience should help, right? Not so fast…

When I first left my corporate position a couple of years ago, I spent much time trying to decide what my “second career” would be. I knew that I wanted to use my experiences to help a non-profit that has a mission to help young people that makes a positive change toward helping them in the future. I had the pleasure of interviewing for some positions pretty early on. The common answer back to me was, “you have no non-profit experience.” How did I fix it? I spent the next 2 plus years volunteering with a couple of non-profits (education and mentoring). With each non-profit I was in roles that expanded my skills and where within different roles. Helping me to understand the non-profit experience better.

The past couple of months, I have once again been interviewed for some openings. Those past 2 years have been very helpful for me with gaining experience. I have learned an awful lot. My overall toolbox has increased significantly. When I have gotten feedback on those openings. I have not heard that I do not have experience within non-profit space anymore. Now, the feedback is I am over qualified for the position or my background as a leader would cause me frustration with the position and/or organization. Interesting, right?

I have read all of the information about the over 50 workers having difficulty with getting hired. I never really gave it much thought. Taking the last couple of experiences, I am rethinking my position. My situation is – I want to have a second career. I don’t have experience within certain positions, but I am able and willing to learn. I have always demonstrated that I can and will learn. You have to start somewhere. Being over-qualified means that the position is not going to use my complete skills. I am truly okay with that. I have been in leadership positions throughout my career – yes. Do I have to be in that same position now? No. How do you paint the picture that you don’t want to continue on your old career path? Without sounding like you are not motivated? My answer normally is – this is a second career path that I am willing to learn and grow for the organization. I don’t need to be a Director or VP. I am here to help. I have a passion to help make a difference. I want to share my experiences and feel good about what I am doing. It is not about money or title, it is only about the mission and making a difference.

In talking to folks, that want about the same path as their first career, they are finding the focus is on how long they think they will continue to work. Are you going to put in another 10 or 20 years? I have heard time and time again, that your past salary has been higher than what you could get today. Meaning you could be pricing yourself out of the job. Why is it hard for hiring managers to understand that past salaries don’t mean that is the salary that I want or need. Again it is about the mission and having a great feeling of accomplishment.

Why is it hard for hiring folks to see an older job seeker with solid experience that wants to continue to work doing something different? When I was a hiring manager, I attempted to hire the best fit for the job and organization. If that person came with additional skills that I knew our organization could take advantage of – all the better.

Anyone experiencing the same? Any thoughts on how to convey the why on the second career?

Someone need a slightly used and experienced person that wants to help today’s youth have a better future? I am available!

  • Frank Han

    I’m so glad to meet you here and G+. Your story gave me a lesson again as did at Planet Blue. Wish the best on your second career. I should visit your blog often to borrow your wisdom. I am doing some volunteer works at my home town to help young students. I hope the work grow in a near future. 🙂

  • Frank – thanks for commenting. It is great that we re-connected! Those Planet Blue days are more like years ago. Enjoy!

  • Todd Biggs

    Start and run your own non-profit. My wife looked into it a while back and came to the realization that our finances where they needed to be at the time for the challenge. You may find some challenges but I don’t think the financial issue will be your primary concern. There are not enough youth development non-profits in the valley so I think your connections, passion and experiences (among other attributes) will be a huge benefit to youth in need of your service.

  • Todd – thanks for joining in the conversation. I agree that there is not enough youth development non-profits in the valley. I did a search last week and really was disappointed to see so few. I had not really thought about starting something myself. I will have to look into it further. Thanks for giving me something to think seriously about. Who knows – that maybe a different post – later.