Once upon a time, there was a successful magazine editor who loved her job so much she stayed doing it for close to 18 years. For the most part, this was a fine plan. The work was fun, glamorous, unpredictable, and involved lots of travel and meeting some of the world’s most famous people. Then one day the fun came to an abrupt end, when she was made redundant.
No prizes for guessing that the magazine editor was me. Of course, nothing lasts for ever. But it still smarts when it actually happens. And one of the biggest blows to my confidence came in realising that, while I’d been cocooned for some time in the one job, the world outside my London corner office had changed. A lot.
Thankfully it was a good friend, rather than an interviewer, who pointed out that CVs didn’t really look like my one A4 sheet of black-and-white type any more. He helped me design a fancy new one with exciting-looking fonts, a click-through to my (hastily made) website page showcasing my work and things such as links to video content I’d done in the course of my job. It hadn’t occurred to me to make mention of things like my Instagram following on there. This friend, and several headhunters, shook their heads in despair when they learned I didn’t have a LinkedIn account.
I tell you all this because, to the outside world – at least within the industry I work in – I’m considered successful. I’ve had a long career editing some of the country’s biggest magazines. I have a bulging contacts book, a cabinet full of awards and a respectable social media following. And yet, when I suddenly found myself back out there, looking for work, I felt, well… dated. I worried that perhaps I no longer spoke the language of modern employers. And despite the success I’ve had, once that thought entered my head, it was a struggle for a while to relocate my self-esteem.
It’s because I know how that feels that I love the feature we have in this issue by Eimear O’Hagan. She speaks to several women who prove you can reinvent yourself at any stage you might need to, but it’s a particular issue for those of us in midlife. I know so many people face uncertainty in this corona-impacted new economic reality and I hope this careers feature helps with some ideas on what could be next.
If I can add my own twopennyworth, some helpful advice during my dark days was this: once a week aim to meet someone wise to chat to about career options, with no goal other than to listen. Just meeting people in different fields – friends of friends, contacts from over the years – helped me to reset my brain and get me to think more laterally about what I could do with my own skill set. It was an amazing confidence booster. And I also took many moments to tell myself this: stay calm, remember how far you’ve come, what you’ve done, who you are, how resourceful and resilient you’ve already been. New – fantastic – beginnings await.
I hope you enjoy the issue.
A few things I’m coveting this week
I love mismatched lobes. Earrings, £25, charleskeith.co.uk
Believe the hype. Gripping. Book, £14.99, waterstones.com
Could this count as exercise? Garden blocks game, £42.50, oliverbonas.com