John Tarnoff: How do I reinvent myself?

Getting Past the AI Firewall, How to Reinvent a Career and What Are My Skills?

Hi, AGEIST readers, it’s John Tarnoff, your second-act-career Dear Abby. Let’s dive into some of this month’s questions.

Isabelle wants to know the story on applying for a job and  “getting past the AI firewall when submitting online job applications.” Her final question is key: “Is a direct connection to the job the only way in?”

In a word, yes. 85% of jobs are filled through referrals vs resume submissions. So why are you knocking yourself out trying to get past the scanners?  Stop chasing job postings and start chasing relationships. It’s all about your network — your existing connections and the new ones you need to make. Yes, it’s going to take longer, but it will be more worthwhile and more sustainable in the long run.  Most of the jobs that are posted are unlikely to hold your attention for very long — and they’re likely targeted at candidates with far fewer years of experience than you have. As we get older, we are indeed overqualified for many of the jobs that are out there.  Instead, focus on developing that network. Concentrate on the people who get you and understand the value you provide. They’re the cheerleaders who will connect you to other like-minded people. Take “general” meetings to introduce yourself, talk about what you do and what value you provide so that others can promote you out to their networks.

Here’s Vicki’s dilemma: “Seven years and one renovated farmhouse later…I’m wondering: What’s next? Do I return to LA? Reinvent myself out here?”

It’s not about the location.  You can start an online business from anywhere. The real question is: What do you want to do?

Jim is wrestling with that very question: “I want to transition gracefully into another job…The problem is, I don’t know what I want to do and also don’t know what other skills I have.”

Vicki and Jim: The first step I would recommend is to start a daily journal.  Here’s the protocol:

  • Twenty minutes/day, seven days/week
  • Stream of consciousness — don’t censor — write about whatever is on your mind
  • Pen and paper — no screens or keyboards
  • At least 32 days

This process will start the inner dialogue you need to discover what you want to do, and what obstacles you’ll need to overcome — internal and external.

Next, set up at least five meetings with people who know you well, and who are willing to spend quality time with you to drill down on your successes, your failures, your lessons, your brilliance, your preferences.  This is not a quick phone conversation! It’s a deep dive to get to know yourself better, and to seek out the common threads you’ll find in each of these perspectives. Bonus points for connecting with a prior boss to get their take.

At the end of the first month, you’ll have a much clearer idea on the inside, and from the outside, about where you should concentrate.  Keep journaling to track your progress and to keep working out ideas. And keep in touch with the most engaged interview contacts to bounce off ideas and get their mentoring as you continue to refine and energize your intention.

For everyone in the career game today, as we’re getting older, we have to be more entrepreneurial.  What is your value proposition? What is your elevator pitch? What is your niche? This starts with the consultant mindset: whether you’re employed or freelance, you want to see yourself as providing value to your client, not taking direction from a boss.

Keep those cards and letters coming, and I’ll be back next month! Please send your career questions for John to: dhs@agei.st.

We need your voice. Join the discussion below; maybe add some of your thoughts, advice and support.


See medical disclaimer below. ↓


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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

John Tarnoff
I’m a reinvention career coach, speaker, and bestselling author who connects people over 50 to their inner calling, and helps them transform their work lives into meaningful, purposeful, and sustainable. second act-careers. Fired 39% over 35 year career as a media/entertainment exec, I learned how to turn setbacks into successes I reinvented my own career at 50, earning a master’s degree in psychology to focus on professional development and training.


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