Your Career Q&A: Play to Your Strengths and Open Your Own Business

By Martin Yate Jan 3, 2017
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​Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column. 

 I would like your advice. At one time I was an HR generalist and was downsized. I left the field and have been in sales ever since. For the last 12 years, I have been selling training programs to HR and training professionals, and I am still employed doing this.

I am in my early 60s, not ready to retire and in excellent health, and I would like to continue to work. I am considering doing something in HR, training, coaching or organizational development. I have a bachelor's degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing and management. I'm not really interested in pursuing a master's degree. I would strongly consider taking a certificate program that could open opportunities for me in HR. I am most interested in classes that are one on one or small groups, and I most enjoy coaching and employee relations.

I would consider taking a recruiting position in order to get into an organization. Please advise whether this is a realistic goal to pursue at my age. If so, what types and sizes of organizations would be best to pursue? I appreciate your recommendation of any resources to use as well. 

Bob,

Indianapolis

 

My initial thought is that in a world with little job security, your current job has more immunity than most because it is your work that brings in revenue and most directly impacts the company's profitability. Why would you consider changing to a job that will likely require a step sideways or backwards, will almost certainly mean less money and job security, and where the issues of age and wage discrimination are more likely to show up? With these considerations in mind, and with only a couple of years to go until your formal retirement age, you should also remember the "last in, first out" adage regularly applies when companies undergo restructuring.

However, if you truly want a job change, consider these factors as well. I would recommend an HR certificate program, although not for the reasons you mention.

[SHRM members-only content: Start a discussion on SHRM Connect to network and share job search tips.]

People are healthier and living longer and often want or need to keep earning beyond age 65. And in this uncertain world, the only real financial security comes from bringing money in your own front door.

The safest and most practical way of ensuring a financially secure future would be to continue working in your current area of professional strength and simultaneously begin to create your own consultant firm, capitalizing on your knowledge of the training and development suppliers, their products, and the HR functions they service. You know the job and you know both markets. You can define a strategy for what you could offer each, investing time in developing connections, the pre- and post-sales materials, and the creation of a professional website without spending a king's ransom (that's a real challenge to be discussed in another column.).

In other words, take the time and money to get your own operation up and functioning before you are under the financial pressures of trying to do so on retirement income. Then when the timing is right, you will be ready to pull the trigger for a fully functional operation with a strategically developed lead database.

Have a question for Martin? E-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know. We look forward to hearing from you!

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