So, the typical worker will go through 10 jobs, and often a couple of careers, in the course of a lifetime? Re-inventing yourself is tough, when you're a middle-age worker. That's probably why a whole new industry has cropped up, in order to serve (or save) that segment of our society.

According to Jean Davidson, co-ordinator of the Centre for Experienced Workers, a Toronto job-finding agency for people aged 45 and older, there are too many restrictions to "vertical movement within the same career path," ...which means we can all expect to change occupations every four years. That's a lot of re-inventing, for people who live a life of working for someone else, and expecting nothing more than to get a paycheque for a job well done.

It's even more so, for entrepreneurs, because it requires something entrepreneurs aren't known for displaying - patience.

Re-inventing yourself means identifying and breaking habits and starting new, carefully considered ones. And habits take time to evolve. Hence the need for patience with the process.

Whether you're under 30 or over 45, and looking for a new and challenging occupation, whether self-employed or otherwise, consider these six suggestions for getting what you want:

#Know why you don't like doing what you're doing now. You can't start a new occupation without knowing what it is about your current one that you don't like. This may take a few minutes, but they'll be well spent - take a sheet of paper and divide it in two with a line down the middle. On one side, write down what you like about your job, and on the other side, write down what you don't like about it. Focus on the positive aspects of what your job does for you, and identify the causes of what you don't like.

#Assess your skills accurately. Most of us think of ourselves as a member of an occupation or profession, but when you're thinking of making a career change, it's helpful to forget all that. Focus on your skills, as opposed to your job title. Many of those skills and aptitudes can be put to alternative use. If you want some hints about what occupations you might consider, take a personality or aptitude test. There's a free basic version of the Myers-Briggs test at www.humanmetrics.com; a short summary of an offshoot of that test, called the Keirsey Temperament Sorter at www.advisorteam.com; and a free unauthorized version of the True Colors test at www.home.earthlink.net/~channotti/colors.htm.

#Research alternatives. Most successful job changes are lateral ones - a sideways shuffle instead of a leap into the unknown. HRDC has a lot of information on the labor market at www.jobfutures.ca, where you can check particular occupations and their requisite skills, their levels of pay, locations where jobs are available and forecasts of future demand. It even allows you to compare occupations based on similar skillsets. You could also read What Color Is Your Parachute?, which has become a job-hunting classic.

#Learn to network. It's one of a job seeker's most important skills. Most job openings aren't advertised - in fact, most employment counselors agree that at least 70% of all jobs are "hidden" - the only way to find out about them is through word of mouth. Try reviewing your appointment books from the past few years and make a list of everyone you spoke to. Now, divide that list into two, with your primary list being the one that contains the names of people who have the greatest potential to be of assistance, like well-connected executives. You want to contact those people and let them know you're looking for a new challenge, but you don't want to come right out and ask them for a job. Instead, you want to ask them for their advice because they're knowledgeable in their field, or because they may know of someone who may be looking for a person with your skills and experience.

#Update your resume. Too often, people go looking for work with the wrong resume. Experts suggest that instead of beginning your resume with your work experience listed in reverse chronological order, followed by your education and ending with your skills and reference, you use a different format that emphasizes your skills and competencies. State your objective at the top of the first page, in one or two clear and declarative sentences. One thing that will do is force you to really think about the type of job you want (it also helps a potential employer understand you better). Then, list four or five of your relevant skills and accomplishments in bullet form. After that, list your past employers and previous jobs, and end with your education and any volunteer work.

#Brush up on your interview skills. If you've been out of the job market for a few years, you probably aren't used to job interviews. Today's employers want examples of how you resolved problems, so it's a good idea to prepare yourself by writing about a few of the challenges you faced and how you overcame them. Don't take the paper with you, when you go for an interview, but be sure you read it through a few times and think about your successes. If you're over 45, be prepared to defend yourself against common prejudices against older workers. People over 45 are often asked if they're "burned out", or how they'd feel working for a younger supervisor or manager. The experts encourage you to address the age issue at the beginning of an interview - if you're going to be asked about it, be in control of it. And don't let yourself get discouraged about the prejudices against older workers - you have a lot of skills and that's what the employer wants to know about.

Finding a new occupation is a challenge for anyone, but especially for older workers who have to address three tough questions:

#Are you overqualified? If so, tailor your resume to the job, even if it means leaving out some of your accomplishments. Don't be more qualified than the person who's going to interview you, and certainly don't be more qualified than the company's CEO. According to Ms. Davidson, whose firm has a 70% success rate in finding its participants jobs after three months, "You should also consider omitting MBAs, PhDs and other advanced degrees if they aren't relevant."

#Are you burned out? Too many employers view older workers as burned out by their last job. That sentiment can be countered by being as positive as possible, explaining you've decided to reassess the direction you're going in, and emphasizing your desire for new challenges.

#Why shouldn't they hire someone younger? What are the advantages of an older worker? First, your years of experience should have made an effective time manager out of you. You should know how to do several things at once ("multi-tasking", although I prefer that word to describe machines, not humans), and how to be a team player.

I'm one of those entrepreneurs who isn't all that patient. In the middle of the last decade, I wasn't chased into a career switch by economic necessity. I sought more fulfillment in my day-to-day routine, and I believe the work I've done over the past six years on behalf of home-based business people has been worth it. That doesn't mean I'm finished, or now looking for something else to do. As an acquaintance reminded me the other day, I've paid a high price for an education that few other people in our country possess. Now, he suggested, I may want to consider re-inventing myself to fit the mold that made the man. Which is probably another way of saying, "You ain't seen nothing yet!"

Author's Bio: 

The Publisher of HomeBizNews, Lorne Peasland, is a former advertising agency owner and national media consultant, the founder and past-president of the Canadian Home & Micro Business Federation, and author of "Influencing Public Opinion - A Communications Primer For Political Candidates, Community Activists, and Special Interest Group Spokespeople" (ISBN 0-9697364-0-1). He is a home-based marketing consultant, writer and speaker, and can be contacted through either of his web pages at http://www.accept.ca/homebiznews/lorne.html or
http://www.accept.ca/homebiznews/pms2.html, via e-mail at
lorne@pacificcoast.net., or by phone at 250-708-0250.