Ready to Jump? Here Are Seven Kinds of Second Acts

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A stumbling block for many high-performing women looking for a change in mid-to-late career is having an idea of what a Second Act Career could look like. Is it to move to another company or industry? A change in role or title? Consulting? One of the first things I work on with clients is getting them into a mindset to see their options as seasoned pros with an established network. 

If you’re ready to jump, here’s my quick review of seven Second Act career types, who they are best suited for and pros, cons and tips for each to get you started.

Role # 1: Same Role, Same Industry, New Organization

The most straight-forward career change. A great option if you like the industry and work but want to do it where the rewards are greater. That could mean better compensation, work environment or company management. Or having more flexibility, feeling appreciated and fully using your skills and talents. 

Pros: You have the skills, you know the companies and have the network. 

Cons: The new job may not offer the level of change and improvement you seek over your current situation.

Tip: Be clear on what you want to change. Carefully vet the organizations you’re considering and your prospective peers and team. Speak with someone on the inside or who recently left – ideally someone who was in your role- or worked closely with it.

Role # 2: Consulting in Your Specialty in Your Current Industry

A logical next step if you want to stay connected to your industry and enjoy what you do but are craving the freedom to work when, with whom and how you want. Ideal for those with known expertise, high visibility positions and established connections with the people who would be potential clients.

  • Pros: You get to be the boss, benefit from your own hard work and be around people who know and like you and vice versa.
  • Cons: You’re starting a business which is another “job” beyond the work you’ll be doing for clients. Oh, and you’ll have to sell.
  • Tip: Talk with consultants in the space to get a clear picture of the landscape and advice on how to get started. Seek a busy entrepreneur with complimentary skills who will let you freelance for them. Or, find a client or two to get started with while still working.

Role # 3: Same Role, Different Industry

This option is the best of both worlds if you enjoy what you do but want to change things up for better alignment with your interests, values or to follow a dream. You might jump at the chance to work in fashion, wellness or for a non-profit supporting a cause you care about. Highly transferable skills and willingness to learn are musts.

  • Pros: You’ll expand your skills in a new setting while bringing knowledge from your previous work.
  • Cons: Competition from others with long industry experience will be tough.
  • Tip: Choose your targeted industry and then learn all you can about it. Start following industry leaders and trendsetters and look for opportunities to network. Figure out which organizations benefit from hiring outside the box and what experience you bring that adds value.

Role # 4: Repurposing Your Skills in Your Own Small Business

When entrepreneurship is calling and you’re drawn to do something different with your skills and experience. Perhaps you have an idea for a service, product or business that you’ve always wanted to try. Or, you see an opportunity to make a positive impact in a completely new way as I did when I moved from a senior role in communications in the wine industry to career coaching. 

  • Pros: You’re following your dream which is powerful and you’ll be continually learning and growing.
  • Cons: You’re heading into a new business with a steep learning curve. You’ll need reserves of time, energy and money.
  • Tip: Treat this like the big undertaking that it is. Research the industry, write a business plan, seek help from professionals to lay a solid foundation from the start..

Role # 5: Portfolio Career – Combine Part-time Roles

This modern-sounding career path involves using skills and interests in two or more different part-time roles, as fractional talent, to replace a salary with several streams of income. It’s an approach that can work well if you’re a seasoned pro and want to keep connected with your current work but also try something new.

  • Pros: You get to design your career, keep connected where you’re known and follow the spark of a new idea where skills meet interests.
  • Cons: It may take time to find the right balance of roles for optimum scheduling and income.
  • Tips: Decide what success looks like for you. Then, focus on creating one stable, part-time gig at a time through research, planning and networking.

Role # 6: Go Back to School to Move Up or Move On

You find yourself ready to take the leap to something different that requires new educational degrees or training. Perhaps you always planned to pursue an advanced degree to move up in your work. Or, you’re ready for an entirely new career.

  • Pros: Adding in-demand advanced education to your resume will make you more valuable in your next act and beyond. Plus, you’ll build new skills and connections.
  • Cons: The investment in education may not translate to promotion or higher income until you’ve gained experience. In a brand new career, you’ll likely need to work your way up again. 
  • Tips: If gaining more or new education excites you, don’t discount this option because you think it’s too late, Conduct thorough research to gain real world insight into the realities of what the new education delivers for the investment.

Role # 7: Stay Where You Are and Reset Your Role (for now)

If you’re contemplating a career change it’s likely that you’re very unhappy in your current work. Even if you plan to leave, there is great benefit in making an effort to improve the situation now by changing your attitude and habitual responses. You may find a way to enjoy your work more or move to a better role in the organization.

Pros: Taking responsibility for finding fulfillment in your work will pay rewards now, while you’re in the role, and later, when you make a graceful exit with the clear understanding that you control your work happiness.

Cons: It takes real work to change your approach and not fall into old habits of resentment and victimization. You’ll need to be persistent and patient while others adjust to the change.

Tip: Know that this is hard but do it anyway. Be curious about your negative reactions to work situations and what’s behind them. Pause before responding to known triggers and reframe them considering others’ perspectives. 

Getting in the right mindset, seeing the options and overcoming the fears is the first phase of my signature five-step Second Act Career Roadmap that provides guidance, motivation, support and accountability for high-performing women in mid-to-late career who are ready for a change. If you’re interested in seeing where you might need help, sign up for a complimentary 45- minute Second Act Career Audit.

Have you made the switch to any of these careers in your second, third or fourth act? Have you experienced a different kind of career change? I’d love to hear about it: nancyalight@gmail.com

Second Act Career Audit

Navigating to a new role, especially when you’re an established professional, can feel daunting. What do I really want to do? How do I find the right role? Can I command what I’m worth? How do I find out?

My Second Act Career Audit is designed to help you answer those questions and more. Together, we’ll clarify your goals and challenges and outline a strategy to get you on your way to your next, best act.

I hold these calls personally, so space is limited. If you’re ready to take the first step towards a career that lights you up again, click below to apply for a call and schedule your complimentary Second Act Career Audit.

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