I was meeting with someone recently and we were talking about our client work.
During the course of that conversation I happened to mention that in accounting people seem to be getting to more senior levels earlier.
Having started out in the accounting profession in 1980, I said that I and those of a similar age were probably in the twilight years of our career.
By that I meant in the latter stages of our career.
I remember having a similar discussion with someone a few years ago who was being made redundant.
They worried that it was going to be difficult to get another role.
They worried that the younger, up and coming accountant might be much more attractive to employers.
They wondered if they really could still make an impact.
He spoke I listened.
Then we started to create a list of some of the benefits of being in the twilight years of a career.
Firstly you have a lot of experience. Now experience is one of those areas where you can talk about how good you are. Alternatively you can use that experience to help less experienced.
Not by telling them what to do but by acting as a mentor or sounding board. If as is likely you have a boss who is younger than you, this can be a huge benefit to them.
Secondly you are likely to be much more collaborative rather than competitive. In the early stages of your career it’s all about getting to the next level or earning more.
In some organisations this can create conditions where you look after number 1 – your own interests.
By the time you reach the twilight years of your career you are less concerned about the next career step. In addition you really know that real success is a team effort so you focus more on collaboration.
Thirdly you understand how organisations work. You can quickly get a sense of the way things are done in any organisation. You can identify those that are the key influencers and help them and your boss to look good.
As you have seen and dealt with a lot of challenges over the course of your career you are able to have a much greater sense of perspective on what matters and what’s just a passing phase. As a result you better handle the stresses and pressure in the modern workplace.
Fourthly you have the track record. Employers are interested in what you have achieved and what you can contribute.
In the early years of your career this can be much more difficult to articulate. By the time you reach the twilight years in accounting or indeed any profession you have built up an extensive success bank.
When you go into a job interview you have 3 major advantages.
You are probably much more self aware and self confident. I don’t mean you believe you are perfect. On the other hand you know yourself, the good and not so good points.
All of the successes means that talking about and demonstrating what you have achieved and what you can offer makes the interview a lot less stressful.
Chances are you are much more able to go into an interview with the attitude that it’s an exploratory discussion to see if what you have to offer and what your potential boss is looking for is a good fit.
So if you are in the twilight years of your career, focus your attention on all the benefits that brings to your next employer. Because in truth you really can still make a big impact.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.