How to handle a midlife career crisis

Doris Liu - 24/11/2017
Midlife crisis

The recent event of “firing the older employees and hiring the younger employees” (the middle management is fired) has attracted a lot of attention, and concerned many professional managers. This is a kind of reminder of the heavy topic of “middle-age crisis”. As a worker in this time, few questions wonders around our head.

How to effectively select your position?How to plan your career development and create your own armor for your career? Today, we will share this topic of “four steps to make a good career”.

We started the first step of our career from the moment we stepping in to the workplace. As we all know, the career is divided into four stages: career exploration, career development, career stability, the middle and late period of the career. A healthy and continuous career is coherent, developmental and dynamic.

As the saying goes: Building the foundation is the first step for building a house. A good start for your career is very important. Whether you can effectively locate the direction of self-development during the exploration period will directly affect the long-term life planning.

Career exploration stage

Career exploration stage is the time between 3 to 5 years from the graduation to having a job around the age of 28. The specific length of time varies based on personal knowledge resources and academic qualifications. However, when entering the work place, there is often a big gap between ideal and reality. The gap is not limited to whether the industry is suitable, the job is appropriate, the team is harmonious, leadership is appreciated, or the work is interesting. Inadequacy of any factor will result in our idea of leaving the post. In this stage, the staff generally have strong job-hopping impulse.

However, the rational and mature professional managers will never be controlled by their emotions. They tend to effectively resolve the negative emotions. As the owner of their emotions, they will turn grief into an appetite. They can analyze the truth from the reality, restore the course of event, and search for solutions. However, those professional managers who never avoid any troubles and evade their responsibilities and are practical will get more recognition and help from everyone. These experiences are bound to lay a precious foundation in the subsequent career. Of course, career exploration does not mean to avoid job-hopping. It is a long-term plan based on objective analysis combined with career planning. (PS: Candidates who cannot find their own direction in the early stage of their career are suggested to be able to apply for the rotation of a company or to join the training program. They can communicate with inter-departmental colleagues/friends if no such opportunity is provided to determine their career direction as early as possible)

Career development period

Career development stage generally refers to the age of 28-40 years old. This period is also called as the golden decade of our career. Ideally, under the age of 28, we basically lock the development direction of the industry and select the job functions. The next ten years are mainly about learning to enhance. This decade is not only the supply of knowledge and increase of experience to improve of management, but also the dormancy period for position /salary blowout. 30-40 years old is a decade of high output. The employees are the most ambitious, aspiring, thoughtful and explosive. With less youthful indiscretion, they often have more middle-aged wisdom and stability.

However, this stage is the crucial period to decide success or failure. There is an old saying in China: "A man should be independent at the age of thirty" - that is the time for to get married and establish their own career.

After thirty, they seem to enter the sensitive period, and start to get nervous, and become a clear calculator for input-output ratio. Once there is any internal and external interference, they often forget their own original intention, and give up their career to chase some short-term interests.

For any choice of career, we should ask ourselves: what is the use of my previous experience for this path? What will it help us in the future? Is it a step further from my long-term plan? Is there any room for us to improve ourselves in the company? What kind of problems and challenges will I encounter after joining the new company? Can these challenges and the new environment be accepted and confronted? Ok, you are welcome to join if you have the solid answer for these questions. If you choose a new company for a safe haven to escape the status quo, I am sorry. There are employers who do not underestimate the previous employer, nor do overestimate the next employers. Similarly, you will still encounter many problems, what you need is: rational choice, do the worst intention, and make the best preparation.

Often, there are many candidates who ask me: Hey, how is*** company? ゙Hi, how is reputation of *** company? Does *** company work overtime a lot? (***name of the company)

Frankly, I really love and hate to ask (answer?) such questions. The reason why I love them: they ask out of trust; the reason why I hate them: please, why haven’t you understood what you want yet?  Mature professional managers know how to adapt to the environment; it is difficult for us to choose the colleagues and the boss. For any one group or an organization, it is inevitable to get along with people. One thousand people have one thousand Hamlets, each of whom is an independent individual, both knowledgeable and creative. We have no alternative but to change others to be as adaptable as possible. If you are too personal in the workplace, either you PK off everyone or you are PK out.

So, in the golden period, are you ready?

Occupation​al stability period

This stage generally starts from 40-55 years old. In this stage, the staff tends to be polarized based on personal ambition and the basis of the previous development. Some hope for greater promotion or major professional enhancements, and start to pursue the peak of their career, such as the organization's top managers and professional and technical experts. The other people who have less chance and ambition to turn their attention to family life and leisure activities with stagnant professional and professional development. This stage is also the stage where the "middle-aged crisis" mostly occurs.

From the first three stages of our career, we can see that the second stage of our life will greatly affect the direction of our career development. Planning a good personal ability and function will have great good outcome, while poor planning leads to the difficulty in changing the situation even in the stability career stage. (Under normal circumstances, finishing the four steps with work experience from 2-6 stages is the ideal career portfolio)

The late period of the career

This is the final stage of the career, from the age of 55 to retirement. Most people at this stage have made their achievements and has weak development expectations. They are hoping to maintain or retain their current status and achievements. There are certainly some people who start thinking about the value of life and start to do more meaningful things. Of course, some people still maintain the upward momentum of development, especially some professionals.

Of course, no matter which stage of life you are in now, you should plan your steps of life carefully. This is to take the responsibility for yourself, as well as for your family. If you just entered your career, please make a long-term and find a clear direction. If you enter in the golden decade, please choose every opportunity with prudency (do not taken job-hopping frequently without accumulation of experience). If you have a stable career, please cherish your time and improve yourself constantly. If you have successfully promoted to the late period of your career, congratulations! You finally can realize your own values in various ways.

Don’t fail the time, nor do fail yourself!

Consultant | Industrial & Automotive Recruitment
+86 21 2287 3117
dorisliu@morganmckinley.com