ASK AMY: I am retired with a unique skills set and now want a job, where do I start?

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QUESTION:  I’d like to ask you a question! The children are getting older and I’m in the market for a retirement job. Police dispatching is so unique. (job I had for over 20 years) I’m sure I have skills that would translate into something else, but I really don’t know what.  And I really am looking forward to a day job, and am ready now to be done hearing the worst the world has to offer.  My traditional office skills are quite limited. I know basic Word, but am minimally familiar with Excel or Powerpoint or any of the other programs I see mentioned in job announcements.  Do you have any suggestions for where I might fit in?  We all have always joked that when we were done dispatching we wanted a mindless job, and we’re all going to be Walmart greeters.  I don’t think I want to be quite that mindless though, unless I really have to!


The better question, instead of “where might I fit in?” is where do you WANT to fit in. Or better yet, what do you want to do with your time? Of course it might be seemingly easier for me to suggest careers that you can do with the skills you already have acquired but that won’t yield the best results – here’s why… and here’s how…
1. If you are wondering WHO should decide on your next phase in the world of work – it’s you! If I make suggestions regarding your career, they won’t truly come from your heart and soul. And it is important that they do. So here’s an exercise to help you start the brainstorming process: Make a list of 15 things you have always wanted to do or try. Included in the list could be careers, hobbies, secret passions… whatever! And don’t stop at just FIVE ideas. By going for the full 15 career ideas you will start to branch out and get creative with yourself and you will start the uncover the passions that may have been laying dormant all these years. So start making your list and then consider trying (in small ways) each item on your list through a series of explorations – described below.
A. Network: Contact friends, family and even some facebook contacts. Find people who are working in the fields on your list. Pump them for information about their work.

B. Job Shadowing: Spend a day with someone who works in one of the fields on your list. If it is a good day, and you want more – that is a good sign!
C. Volunteer work: An excellent form of experiential education to clarify career goals as well as gain practical experience in order to determine if this should be your next gig.


After you write your list – and after you explore some of the things on that list – you can then think about which items best match the skills you have accumulated from your years of work as a police dispatcher. It is much better to dream big and then narrow it down than the other way around.
I know this seems like a lot of work but, trust me, this process will yield a much better result if you do a bit of your own personal exploration. If you try to take the easy way out and simply try to find a career that is similar (skill-wise or otherwise) to what you have been doing, you’ll end up shortchanging yourself. So, take the time to look inside first, and then after that we can explore how your skills will transfer to your new-found or deeply-hidden career passion.
On one last note… Regarding your comment about wanting to be “done hearing the WORST the world has to offer.” I hear ya! My question to you is this: What, in your mind, would be more of the BEST the world has to offer? What is exciting to you? What makes you tick? What makes your heart beat faster? What is fun to you? What is your version of the best the world has to offer. Your next career is hidden in the answers to those questions.




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