This past year I’ve had to navigate my way through redefining myself and my career. In doing so, I discovered two new passions. The first is baking. The second is social networking.
With my brand new Kitchen Aid mixer and food processor, I now create scrumptious cakes, miniature sweets and breads that were previously a chore due to my lack of ability to bake like an old-time homesteader. By combining my new appliances with the baking lessons so lovingly passed down to me by my mother, I am the Cake Boss and the Ace of Cakes of my own castle; finally able to fulfill my secret fantasy to be a fully fledged pastry chef.
As for social media, well that passion came about because of the sheer enjoyment that I get from working on the computer. In the last three years, I’ve lost two jobs because of economic decline. Much of my time as a marketing, public relations and development professional was spent using the computer to write, research and interface with people, businesses and organizations. As social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Digg, and Delicious became more and more popular, I found myself drawn to the power of their applications in not only reaching out and connecting with diverse audiences, but in their ability to add value to my skill sets. In learning how to interface with this new media, I found that I could expand my opportunities for jobs and grow as a professional.
One of the most important things that I’ve learned about social networking is transparency; and, with that in mind, I will admit that I’m a member of the post WWII Baby Boomer generation. Like me, so many people my age are out of work with the need to reinvent themselves in order to find gainful employment. However, at this age, the motivation to find a new job, let alone change careers, can be intimidating and distressing. In embracing social media and learning how to take advantage of its variety of applications, I’ve been able to put myself into a different class of unemployed, challenging a group of younger individuals who are the biggest competition. It is by marrying my traditional skills with my new social networking skills that I am able to compete with this younger generation of job seekers who profess to be more on top of it all. However, as a seasoned professional, I am a number of steps ahead of them as I bring to the table additional values they cannot possibly possess – maturity, wisdom, years of experience and attributes of success.
If I took the same attitude as many of my unemployed “senior” peers and regarded social networking as something to be afraid of or something just for “kids,” then I would not have found myself on the cusp of discovering something new and exciting that would make a difference this late in my life.
The fact is that in order to become more competitive in today’s job market, it is imperative that we all learn the ins and outs of friending, following, tweeting, key words, etc. There is not one single profession that cannot benefit from its influence and advantages. Whether it’s the medical field, business, education, the arts, blue-collar or white-collar, social media opens new doors to exchange ideas, network with others, increase awareness and profits, and potential new jobs. Though social media is still in its infancy, it has become a resource that allows for these and more opportunities.
They say you’re never too old for a role in the hay as long as you can work it. Well, the same goes for social networking. If you learn to work it, then you can outlast your youngest and strongest competitors.