Build a Portfolio Career

Building a Portfolio Career

Monday, August 29, 2011

Are You at a Career Crossroads?

Are you at a Career Crossroads? Perhaps you're looking for a change of role, thinking about moving to a new employer or maybe you've been made redundant or your current job is under threat.

Worried? Most people are not keen on change, particularly when change is imposed upon them. This is especially true when your livelihood is threatened. How will you pay your monthly bills if you don't have a job?

This situation is increasingly common for people in midlife.

If you can get to London on Friday September 23rd 2011, then help is at hand. Steve Preston, a member of the Mid Life Opportunity Coaching Panel is running another of his Career Transition Masterclasses

The last Masterclass, in June, was a sell out. The day includes an action packed 8 hours full of individual and group activities and coaching with a small group (maximum 6 people) of talented like minded professional people all at a career crossroads and looking to change something about their life and career.

Plus: 60 minutes of follow up telephone coaching!

For details, see Career Transition Masterclasses

If you can't get to London on 23rd September, Steve also runs a very informative Career Transition ecourse, available to download now. This contains 12 sections and 14 - 16 hours of content - invaluable if you are serious about landing that new role!

For detail, see Career Transition ecourse.

Please mention The Mid Life Opportunity when booking.

Good luck!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Midlife Gap Year

Guest Post by Mid Life Opportunity member James Cave
There used to be this really strong feeling that gap years were only for school leavers and youngsters, luckily for us, this feeling is on the way out. Our culture is changing, and that means all of us travel-hungry folks who are well past our twenties don't have to just sit back all dewy eyed thinking about all the opportunities we missed out on, we can go and make some new ones for ourselves.

I think the biggest road block people faced when they thought about travelling as an older person is the idea that it might have some lasting ramifications on their career. And don't get me wrong, this is a really valid concern, but there's a definite change in perception these days.

The times when we chose a career in our teens and stuck with it right through until retirement are long gone, now we're expected to move around and hop from company to company every few years. In fact, our culture has now changed so much, that changing job or moving organisation is often seen as the only way to gain a promotion or pay rise for a lot of sectors.

What does this mean for adults hoping for a gap year? That the gap on your CV isn't going to be looked at in the kind of negative light you've been worried about. In fact, employers may even look at it as a positive. As the popularity for gap years has grown, so has an opinion that by going on one, people are not only broadening their horizons, but showing a willingness to learn and a flexibility that’s really very desirable in the working world.

On the other hand, if you’d love to go travelling but are actually happy in the job you’re in just now, sit down and have a chat with your boss or HR department. You could find they already have a set of rules for circumstances like that, and many businesses will offer an unpaid sabbatical, often for something more like three to six months, but occasionally for a whole year. This makes sense for a business that values their employees, as not only does it mean they are likely to come back more enthusiastic and with new skills, but there’s evidence that finding replacements for skilled workers isn’t cheap.

Another thing to think about is the fact that your gap year could leave you with some real, long-lasting benefits if you decide to learn a language or take part in some overseas learning while you’re away. Whether you choose to travel to France to learn French, or fly to French-speaking Canada (Quebec) to do the same, or even just decide to spend a few months in Australia, working in a bar, you’ll be adding new experiences and skills to your portfolio, something you should never put off doing.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Getting Your Midlife in Order

A Timely reminder for people in midlife...

The tutor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty glass jar and proceeded to fill it with big rocks. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the tutor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the big rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The tutor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous - - yes.
The tutor then produced a can of beer from under the table and proceeded to pour it into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the tutor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognise that this jar represents your life.
The big rocks are the important things - - your family, your partner, your health, your children, your friends, your favourite passions - - things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full."

"The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else - - the small stuff."

"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the big rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Fall in love. Spend time with your friends. Take your partner out for a meal. There will always be time to go to work, go to the gym, give a dinner party and clean the car.

Take care of the big rocks first - - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The tutor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a drink!"

What are your 'Big Rocks'? Do you put them in your jar first or do you tip a lot of 'Sand' in at the same time?  Take a few moments to list your 'Big Rocks', 'Pebbles' and 'Sand' and prioritise them in your mind.

Then it's time for a celebratory drink!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Solution to the Current Economic Crisis? - study The Full English

Those people who commute to work in overcrowded trains and roads must wonder why the economy is still in such a mess. All of these people still have jobs, they are still getting a monthly pay cheque. Why, then, has the economy not started to recover?

The answer, of course, is that people are worried about what might be around the corner for them. They are generally pessimistic about their futures and worried that the might lose their job. (Actually, very few people worry about losing their job; almost everyone worries about losing their source of income – the two should not be confused). So they have cut back on their discretionary spending. The difference between a healthy growing economy and a flat or declining economy is determined by the level of discretionary spending.

Prior to the banking crisis, discretionary spending was too high. Now it’s too low. When people are worried about losing their income they batten down the hatches.

So how can the government encourage people to have a more positive outlook on their future without pouring billions of pounds into a black hole? The solution can be found by studying the content of the Full English Breakfast!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Full English Breakfast (otherwise known as a ‘Fry Up’), this consists of any mix of eggs, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, fried bread or toast, black pudding (very optional), baked beans, mushrooms and a recent addition – hash browns.

In providing the ingredients for a full English breakfast, it’s fair to say that the chicken is involved but the pig is committed. The chicken carries on its life after laying its eggs, the pig which provides the bacon and sausages, sadly, does not.

In the current economic climate, everyone feels like the chicken. Involved in worrying about losing their job, paying more for their pension or that their standard of living is declining. Yes, that’s true, but by worrying and reducing their discretionary spending they are generating a self fulfilling prophesy. Living standards are declining as companies and organisations cut back and don’t recruit new talent because people aren’t buying their products. The economy contracts or grows very slowly.

Those who lose their jobs, on the other hand, are the pigs. They are committed. They aren’t worried about losing their jobs because they’ve already lost their job. They aren’t worried about paying more for their pension or a drop in their standard of living because they are bearing the brunt of the recession. They have no income and need a new job. They have fallen off of the roundabout and need to find a way to get back on.

The effect of the recession is being uniquely felt by those who have lost their job. Everyone else plays the role of the chicken, those that have lost their job are the pigs in this production.

So what is the answer? Reduce VAT? Reduce Income Tax? Perhaps, but these measures benefit everyone including those who don’t need help and those who don’t contribute.

The answer would seem to be quite straightforward. Take away the fear from the chickens and the number of people who become pigs will dramatically reduce. Introduce measures which will protect people if they lose their job, to take away their fear and apprehension. Do this, and confidence will return.

How about this? Guarantee that if someone loses their job they will be paid an amount equivalent to their salary by the state for a year, on top of their redundancy pay. That would give people a realistic breathing space to find a new job and take away the fear of redundancy.

Obviously this must be done in such a way to avoid paying the workshy. So people who lost their jobs wouldn’t receive the maximum payment unless they’d worked for say four out of the last five years. But that’s detail to be agreed. The important thing is to focus on taking away the worry from the ‘chickens’ of this world (most of us), to encourage a more positive outlook on life which will grease the wheels of commerce and drastically reduce the number of ‘pigs’ who find themselves out of work.
This should be followed up by funding training – real training, not lip service – to help the jobless to find new careers.

The focus of recovery investment must be on those who lose their jobs, not on everyone. To take away people’s fears of not being able to pay the mortgage or the rent. Do this and people’s ‘chicken’ fear will subside, the number of ‘pigs’ will fall dramatically and the world will look a much better place to all of us.

Rob Horlock has established The Mid Life Opportunity (, a community for people in Midlife. Advice and Guidance is available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join - click here

Midlife Joke of the Week

A man wakes up in the hospital, bandaged from head to foot.

The doctor comes in and says, "Ah, I see you've regained consciousness. Now, you probably won't remember, but you were in a pile-up on the motorway. You're going to be okay, you'll walk again and everything, but...something happened. I'm trying to break this gently, but the fact is, your willy was chopped off in the wreck and we were unable to find it."

The man groans, but the doctor goes on, "You've got £9,000 in Insurance compensation coming and we have the technology now to build you a new willy that will work as well as your old one did - better in fact!
But the thing is, it doesn't come cheap.. It's £1,000 an inch."

The man perks up at this. "So," the doctor says, "It's for you to decide how many inches you want. But it's something you'd better discuss with your wife. I mean, if you had a five inch one before, and you decide to go for a nine incher, she might be a bit put out. But if you had a nine inch one before, and you decide only to invest in a five incher this time, she might be disappointed. So it's important that she plays a role in helping you make the decision."

So the man agrees to talk with his wife.

The doctor comes back the next day. "So," says the doctor, "have you spoken with your wife?"

"I have," says the man.

"And what is the decision?" asks the doctor. 

"We're having granite worktops……"