Like many people, my career has been not so much the result of planning as a series of mostly happy accidents. I have always taken the view that as long as I am still effective at my job and enjoying it I would go with the flow and keep working, so maybe my retirement will also happen by accident.
There I was thinking all was well with the world when my employers decided to take control of my career just in time for my sixty-fourth birthday. Their birthday present was to offer me my freedom, in the form of redundancy. What now?
Freedom is another word for nothing left to lose
Some people with whom I’ve discussed this don’t see a problem – why don’t I just get in the motorhome (RV if you’re from the States) or on my motorcycle, leave all the work-related hassle behind and enjoy my freedom. But as I experience my new-found life of leisure I’m realising now just how much I enjoy the challenge and excitement of technical innovation.
It’s always good to have a Plan B or C…
When I was made redundant, my plans formed rapidly:
- Plan A – exploit the breadth and depth of my product innovation experience offering my services as a freelancer. I acknowledged the risk that only a small segment of the industry would recognise the value and have the money to pay for my services and indeed finding those customers has not proved easy
- Plan B – get a “proper job”, with a “proper company”. I’ve had enough of what we might politely call the quirky behaviour of small tech companies. I’m well aware of the downsides of big companies, but right now their advantages sound attractive. Job applications via the web and LinkedIn have proved to be total black holes – introductions via my network have led to interviews, but no actual offers
- Plan C – simply accept I’m now retired, and find new meaning in life. This is the only plan over which I have total control, and will be the default outcome in the case of failure of plans A and B.
Where am I now?
- I would dearly like to work for a big tech company but remain sceptical about the chances of success in finding that dream job
- I am interested in freelance assignments, but not looking proactively beyond my normal web and networking presence – the returns are simply not worth the effort
- I will never apply for any job without some form of personal connection to the hiring manager
- If all else fails, I have the motorhome and the motorcycle
If you would like to talk to a seasoned product/project manager with solid business development and marketing capabilities underpinned by strong technical understanding, here I am.
- Never make assumptions about your on-going employment. Whether you’re in a multi-national corporation or a start-up, there’s no such thing as a permanent job
- Take care of your career, especially as you get older. Go for jobs that will look good on your CV and give you a place in a high esteem network. Whether you are regarded as “past it” or “seasoned expert” will depend crucially on your recent track record
- I’m not the only one – we are throwing away a vast untapped reservoir of skilled flexible and experienced professionals while at the same time complaining about skills shortages. A diverse workforce will always win over a group of clones
- You learn who your friends are when you’re no longer a useful contact
- If we’re all supposed to be working into our later lives, where will the jobs be?