Kerry Hannon Answers Our Questions About Career Change


Our interview with Kerry Hannon brings to light some important information and guidance that one should consider when considering a change of career.  See if her answers can help you.

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Interview answers from K. Hannon, author

Kerry Hannon is a well-know expert on career transitions, entrepreneurship, retirement and personal finance.    She is a sought-after keynote speaker at conferences and has been a TV and radio commentator.  She works to give her clients the tools and confidence to succeed  in their quest.

Her work is dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives.  She gives them the tools to succeed professionally, financially and personally. 

With more than two decades of experience in covering many aspects of business, careers and personal finance as an editor, columnist and writer, she had worked with the leading media companies.  Those included USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Money, New York Times and Forbes. 

Her latest book came out June 2019:  “Never Too Old To Get Rich: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting a Business Mid-Life”

“I am a big believer in writing things down as a way to make them tangible and solvable."
~ Kerry Hannon

“A mentor is a perfect person to talk through your skills and pinpoint ones that you take for granted.”
~ Kerry Hannon


We appreciate Kerry for agreeing to this interview.  Here are our questions:

Q1:  Hi Kerry, thanks so much for spending time with us on this important subject. In  your new book, “Never Too Old To Get Rich: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting a Business Mid-Life”, you mentioned that Journaling is a good way to map a person’s new career direction. You stated it could help one to hone their passion. How have you seen this technique help those over 50? Do you have any examples or other comments?

Kerry Hannon:  The best approach is to begin with a vision of where you want to go, tape a picture on your office wall of what it might look like or set it as your computer’s screensaver, and journal about your goals.

Write a list in your journal of jobs you have had throughout your life, even as a kid. What connects them? Is there a theme? Is there a career path you had to pivot from in order to make a living?

Get things stirring with small steps and before you know it, you’ll be able to jubilantly declare your independence.

Write out your fears of being in the spotlight. How will you face that challenge? I am a big believer in writing things down as a way to make them tangible and solvable. Once you take it out of your head and into the world via the written word, it becomes real and you can deal with it more effectively and proactively. It loses the power of the mouse racing around your brain in the middle of the night ratcheting up your anxiety level.

Q2:  Your suggestion in "Getting the Job You Want After 50" was to get business cards printed up identifying a person in their new career before they have obtained that career change job. In your view, what percentage of the time does this work?  Why?

Hannon: This is more of a psychological move, and it always works. It helps you begin to shift your thinking and begin to identify with your new path. It is a tangible way to take ownership of your new direction.

Q3: You state that it is beneficial to recognize the skills (hard and soft) that the potential employers value.  What is the best way to determine those?  Do you agree that talking with someone in the new career field, like a mentor, can help one evaluate the required skills?

Hannon:  A mentor is a perfect person to talk through your skills and pinpoint ones that you take for granted. 

Job seekers often don’t know what they know or what skills they already have until they sit down and write a list. I encourage you to make your own list, which will come in handy when preparing your résumé, filling out job applications, and preparing for interviews. Take an inventory of your skills by following these steps:

  1. Write down any formal education you received in high school, college, or trade school that has given you a work skill, such as welding, programming, business management, or public speaking.
  2. Include any other coursework, seminars, or workshops you attended.
  3. List any licenses or certifications you currently hold or held in the past.
  4. Record any proficiencies you have in any subject areas.  Perhaps you picked up a foreign language on your own, you taught yourself how to build websites or blogs, or you developed public speaking skills as a member of a local Toastmasters group.
  5. List all office software you’re proficient with.  This includes spreadsheet applications, presentation programs, database management software, desktop publishing or graphics programs, blogging platforms, and so on.
  6. Jot down any hobbies that have taught you new skills or helped sharpen existing skills.
  7. List your soft skills.  Maybe you’re good at solving problems, planning and overseeing projects, or resolving conflict. See “Recognizing the soft skills employers value” for a longer list.
  8. Ask friends, relatives, and former coworkers and supervisors to list your best qualities.  You may not realize skills you possess until others call attention to them.
Kerry Hannon provides great insight on career change, especially at midlife.Great Answers From Kerry (Photo courtesy of Kerry Hannon)

Don’t restrict yourself to skills you developed on the job. If you volunteered as treasurer for your local parent-teacher organization, for example, you have experience with financial management and budgeting. If you raised children, you have experience in child-care, scheduling, and training. How you developed your skills is less important than the fact that you have the skills and that you can present those skills in a way that meet an employer’s needs.

For additional ideas, search the web for “job skills list” or “jobs skills checklist.” The U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop has a Skills Profiler that generates a list of skills in several categories based on the job type and work activities you specify. Check it out at

Although you may need additional training and skills to pick up a new job or navigate a career change, many skills are transferable — the knowledge and skill required are the same, but you’re applying it in a new way or to a different situation. The ability to manage projects, for example, is a transferrable skill. In the publishing business, you may use this skill to coordinate efforts with writers, editors, graphic artists, and page layout personnel. In a shipping business, you may use the same skill to coordinate pick-up and delivery schedules. Same skill, different application.
Look at your skill set and past experience as transferable to diverse fields. If you’re switching industries, you’re “redeploying” skills you already have in place.

Q4: In “Great Jobs for Everyone 50+” you said that one should ask for help and advice to find open positions and other information on that new career.  What is your view on the impact that a mentor can have in this role?

Hannon: A mentor can guide you to identify what positions you may be a good fit for that you may not recognize as your wheelhouse. They can tease out how you can re-define your experience and skills to successfully move into a position in a new field or arena that where that will be relevant. And they can boost your confidence and swagger to take that chance.

Q5: You say you like the Simple resume format.  It can include a customized LinkedIn URL so recruiters and hiring managers can find more about our online.  How important has this become and how has this changed, if any, over the past two years?  Any other hints on resume building. or regarding color scheme, if any.

Hannon: Your resume is not your obituary. It’s an advertisement. Keep it short, two-pages. Tell your Challenge, Action and Result (CAR) stories about how you bumped up sales 15 percent or brought a job in two months ahead of schedule. Whatever it is, show it. I recommend listing skills first that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Remember to use key words from the job description in your resume. You can have a basic resume, but customize it for each job you apply for. And recruiters will check out your digital footprint, so having a sharp, up-to-date LinkedIn profile is a must for many kinds of positions these days.

Kerry Hannon

Thanks to Kerry Hannon

I thank Kerry Hannon for her time and giving us your thoughts on these issues.  You can find out more about Kerry at and her Facebook page.

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