I was shooting the breeze with a few of my fellow sailors this past weekend and got to thinking about the fact that for most of us, our worst misadventures happened early in our careers as sailors.
When I got into sailing in my mid-30’s I started out by taking a course with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, much as many of you have had the pleasure of going through outplacement. I also did a lot of reading about sailing and subscribed to several sailing magazines over the years, much as all of you have gotten books about job search and hopefully take the time to read my evening editorial.
The mistake that many members make is to view job search as a short term activity, hopefully one that they won’t ever have to do again. If only one could find a job that will get you through to retirement. Friends, it isn’t possible or desirable. With the better health that most of us “old timers” have these days, retirement isn’t necessary. As someone told me many years ago, there is lots to do when you retire. You can go to the Post Office. You can go to the library. Just not both on the same day.
Times have changed. We are all more active and if we take care of our health, we can live well into our 80’s, and not in an “old folks home.” Stop me if I’m wrong, but work is a tonic.
The idea is that whether you have joined The FENG in your 40’s, 50’s or 60’s, you should view your relationship with our august body as a life time commitment to learning how to job search. As you get older, or shall we say more experienced, you goal should be to always be working.
It doesn’t have to always be in a Chief Financial Officer job, if that is what you do. The skill sets we bring to the party can be applied in many ways. And, at various times in your career you can be practicing only one or several, rather than all of your many talents. The trade off can be that you at some point don’t want to work so many hours. Or, you may have reached a point where you don’t want all the responsibilities that go with being a CFO.
By viewing this “job search thing” as an important skill in and of itself, you will find yourself a little less stressed about the whole thing. As with sailing, you can pick up the basics in an afternoon. Yet, to be a true master you need to apply a lifetime of experience to the process and to learning from others. Some of it comes in written form as books and magazines or our evening newsletter. Much of the rest of it comes from applying the skills you have only read about to the real life situations you encounter in the world of work.
The most important skill that I hope all of you are learning is networking. Like any important skill, it is hard to learn and hard to apply at times. The basics can be learned in an afternoon, but you have to experience it first hand and often. Sometimes you need to be on the giving side. Other times, you need to be on the receiving side. Both are important to your acquiring the skills you need for smooth sailing throughout your entire working career.
As you move from safe harbor to safe harbor, think long term. My belief is that you have a lot of life left in you. Don’t let yourself wind up on the beach or hard aground.
Fair winds always, Matt