Why Boomers Looking at a Career Change Need to do a Skills Inventory

Alexandra Levit, careers columnist WSJMany Baby Boomers are looking, voluntarily or involuntarily, at career change: Wall Street Journal careers columnist Alexandra Levit has some sage advice to offer.

Several years ago a friend of mine lost his job and was obviously feeling devastated. In his fifties, he clearly lacked confidence in being able to be employed again.

I knew he had a lot of skills and a lot of experience which could be applied effectively in a range of situations, some no doubt beyond the confines of the career path he had pursued for some years.

I tried, unsuccessfully I believe, to get him to do an inventory of his skills.

The good part of the story is that after a fairly short interval he found a job in the field he had worked in for many years.

But that might not have happened and at the back of my mind was the nagging question of whether I could have done more to help him realise what he had to offer, other than what might appear on a standard resume.

The answer came today when I was watching and listening to an interview by my colleague Bill Vick with Wall Street Journal columnist Alexandra Levit who specialises in writing about careers and has authored several books, including New Job, New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career

Responding to a question from Bill, about Baby Boomers who are looking at career change options, Alexandra said she encourages people to sit down and do a self assessment.  “Boomers, like everyone” she says, “should take the time to do a self-assessment.”

They should write down (or type) what are their values, how do they prefer to work..” And then, she says, they need to make an inventory of their skills. Work out what they have accumulated that is transferable to other areas. The idea is to “build a profile of themselves”, so they can see how they can transition easily to a field they might not have worked in previously.

So the inventory of one’s skills becomes part of an overall self-assessment.

The whole interview is a gem and I recommend it heartily to anyone looking at a career change or who knows someone who is doing so. It could make the difference between making a successful transition and getting stuck in the doldrums, or worse.

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About Des Walsh

I show business owners and other professionals how to navigate the social media maze and use LinkedIn effectively. I'm an author, speaker, business coach, social media strategist and LinkedIn specialist. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get my weekly Social Business Bites.


  1. My hubby’s job was a casualty of the recession. He had to quickly reinvent himself. After assessing his skills and interests, he retrained and obtained an entry level position in a new field.

    He doesn’t really like the new job but he has stayed to gain experience which he plans to use to get a more agreeable position elsewhere.

    One of the most difficult aspects of making this transition is balancing what you can do well enough to make a living at it against what you enjoy doing.

  2. Not just babyboomers. Because of the crisis and economic pressures many people are seeking career change.

  3. BaH
    My personal view is that too many people put off too long doing something that will give them joy and make a difference in the world for others. Someone said that people late in life regret not so much things they did as the things they didn’t do.

    You’re right. That’s why I believe it is great advice to do a personal skills inventory. And to what I’ve said above I would add checking with trusted friends and family and asking them what they think you are really good at, what they think from their observation makes you happiest when you are doing it. The results can be surprising and enlightening and could open the way for a new or at least re-shaped career or business.

  4. Most people have experienced some level of frustration in the workplace, unfulfilled ambitions etc. Whether you wade back into the job market or start a home based business or other small venture yourself or with partners, it’s a great opportunity to look at some of the things you haven’t been able to do in your own career and go ahead and do them.

  5. Business at Home says:

    I’d say that one of the secrets to being successful in any undertaking is to work at something you enjoy. Think of talent and be a creative these make you different among others.