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As both my degree course and current work contract draw to an end, I'm left with a clutch of shiny new qualifications and a lot of head scratching over what I want to do next. Being me, I turn to books to try and give me some kind of clue! "The Great Mid-Life Career Switch" appealed as my thoughts so far are more "not that!" (i.e. stuff I've already tried) than any positive direction. It's a scary position to be approaching middle (working) age and still seeking something that feels like a good fit. Perhaps here I would find some ideas?
The first thing to notice is the length, or rather lack of - I suppose the subtitle, "15 important tips to help you change careers at half time" should have been a clue! Now, there are pros and cons to that: at around 50 sub-A5 pages this isn't going to take you long to read; at around 50 pages it's also not going to have a great deal of in-depth knowledge to impart!
Really, this is the briefest of quick run throughs - yes, okay: 'tips' as advertised - outlining possible approaches. It's lots of 'whats' but absolute no 'hows', if you like. Although it mentions both redundancy and people like me just looking for a new... something... it is clearly aimed far more at the former. Indeed, the author himself apparently 'overcame' redundancy and set up his own business. Losing your job is usually a shock; I can imagine this "talk slowly and cheerily" approach would combat that somewhat. I, however, was just irritated!
Right from the start I couldn't help but feel this book is for only the most clueless: do you really need to be told that your options include self-employment or finding another job? Or that if you want to change direction - ooh, controversy! - you may need new skills? The chapter entitled, "seek career guidance" sums up every flaw of this book: I *was* seeking career guidance, here. If you're not giving me that what ARE you providing!?
For example, the topic of most interest to me was that of a portfolio career: having two (or more) concurrent jobs, perhaps using different skills. Alas, that's almost more on the subject than you'll get from this book! There's an odd tone to this one: less that this could be a great opportunity (as I see it) and more straining to justify that 'working two jobs' isn't something for which to apologise. Not helpful, certainly not for me!
A few chapters are somewhat less insultingly obvious than others, perhaps, but only slightly. The chapters on 'Give yourself a fresh image' and 'Find inspiration' (by reading motivational texts) at least suggest that you look at a wider picture than just job listings. However, even here it's more a list of pointers to other places - "go read 'Feel the Fear'", for instance. Urm, right. I do wonder a bit about the specific titles, companies, etc mentioned - why these and not others? Some, like 'Business Link' are only applicable in certain bits of the UK, with no mention that this is the case - Scots should look for Business Gateway, for instance.
Right in the middle comes a chapter that seems to contradict the nicely-nicely approach: basically suggesting that you can only possibly succeed if you're focused (on one thing). Seems a bit harsh for an audience likely to be a mess of swirly ideas and uncertainty! As this is where I'm approaching this book from I can only say thanks for that hint that I'm doomed to fail!
The final chapter leaves the land of obvious, common sense advice for self-help territory - which I have nothing against, per se, but I'm not sure reading Richard Branson's autobiography is really going to be helpful, no matter how much you want to picture yourself in his shoes!! The parting message, that you should believe in yourself blah blah, isn't a bad one, but like the rest of the advice here it's just too weakly presented to have much impact.
Overall: it's not a *dreadful* book, just rather pointless in my opinion - but as there's nothing here a quick search on the internet wouldn't cover better then I think it's rather a waste of (redundancy) money.
The kicker was the appendix - 'Other helpful books from Infinite Ideas': ah, those folk! The ones who pull together lots of bite-size list-books on an array of topics, most of which seem to suffer from but are more suited to the same glossy, generalised approach. I have, in fact, downloaded several of these for my kindle - for free (although they're usually about 80p each): at that price (!) I wouldn't have half as many bones to pick with this volume. However, for the same price as a full sized novel (£6.99) I'd have to suggest this is a rather poor deal.
~Chapters (3-4 pages apiece):~
1 Research other careers
2 Seek career guidance
3 Carry out a skills audit on yourself
4 Retrain for a new career
5 Increase your skill set
6 Start your own business
7 Buy a business franchise
8 Give yourself a fresh image
9 Be focused
10 Network to develop your connections
11 Find inspiration
12 Take voluntary work
13 Use an interim solution as a stepping stone
14 Create a portfolio career
15 Believe in yourself!
Paperback: 55 pages
First published in 2010
RRP: £6.99 (!)