Before I became a career coach, I worked in talent management where I was fortunate enough to work with some of the best art directors, copywriters and fashion illustrators in the industry. It just so happened that some of the most seasoned, smart busiest creatives I worked with also happened to be over-50.
As I transitioned into coaching creative professionals, one of the groups I found myself working with were creative professionals who had found themselves out of a job and on the other side of 45. At the start of our relationship they were usually equal parts freaked out, excited and confused about where to start. I learned that a great outcome was a combination of confidence building, mindset work, and learning what tools that would help them position themselves most effectively.
In this article, I’d like to share 6 ways to turn your age into an asset:
1) Know your unique strengths
You likely have 20+ years of experience and take a lot of what you do for granted. But, despite what you think, not everyone can do the things you do (with your eyes closed no less). That’s YOUR unique talent and something clients will pay for. Start by listing ALL the things you so really well. Include skills, relationships and network, leadership and mentoring capabilities, results. Everything. If you’re too modest for your own good, recruit someone who knows you professionally to help. You’ll find you have a really long list of things that you bring to the table.
2) Know your worth
At your level, you should not be paid dollars for hours, but for the value you bring to a company. If you’re a creative director and your unique gift is galvanizing clients and creative around a concept and leading your team to execute it perfectly, you’re worth big bucks. Do you think the client cares that you’re not the person sitting behind the computer actually banging out the work?
3) Know what makes you stand out in the market place
If you use generic labels and industry jargon to describe what you do, you’ll blend in to the sea of art directors, copywriters, creative directors… Knowing what makes you unique (see point 1), and how you’re different from other people in your industry, will enable you to craft a narrative that gets attentions.
4) Bring your body of work to life
In my repping days, when talent had portfolios rather than websites, our goal would be to create a portfolio that could tell a compelling story without the creative there to provide context or fill in the blanks. No matter how beautiful your work, simply uploading the final campaigns to a website isn’t going to cut it. People hire people, not campaigns, so help the viewer get to know the creative behind the work. Include your picture or video, a compelling story and use language and case studies to give context and communicate results. A blog is also a great way to share your thoughts, opinions and inspirations.
5) Keep learning
Take advantage of your new-found freedom and learn something new or brush up on existing skills. Staying engaged will inspire ideas, introduce you to new people and open new doors.
6) Believe in yourself
I’m a big believer that you bring about what you think about. Work on your mindset daily to keep negative thoughts in check and to envision who you want to be and the contribution you want to make to the world. If you say it is so, it is so.
Your age really IS just a number. If you don’t let it define you, no one else will either!