Career Planning for Third Age Job Seekers

BookLately I’ve been reading a book called Working Identity – Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career by Herminia Ibarra (ISBN 1-57851-778-8) and I heartily recommend it to people in midlife who are looking for a new career.


Ibarra suggests that “our working identity is not a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered at the very core of our inner being”. Rather, it’s made up of the possibilities we see. This means that to discover a new career direction, we must go into action, rather than reflection.

This fits very nicely with my observation over the years of the way that people make career decisions. But it is contrary to old career development theory that says if you look at values, temperaments, interests, personality and aptitudes you should be able to identify the one right career for you. Although these factors are valuable information, they just aren’t enough; they don’t take into account what opportunities are available nor the networking required to find them.

In my coaching work, I encourage my clients to list all the options and then systematically test them out by actively moving toward each one. Many discoveries result. Some get eliminated as not practical, and often new possibilities are discovered and added to the list of options.

We learn about ourselves by doing and testing out concrete possibilities!