Dr. Rajeev Jain

Dr. Rajeev Jain - Making the right moves

To get the most out of your career, think of it as a game.When you're 45 or 50, you don't have as many moves left as you did when you were 25 or 30, so the moves you make have to be good ones.

We suggest use this game theory to orchestrate career changes. Normally associated with economics, game theory uses mathematical modeling to predict the outcomes of decisions when multiple individuals or "players" are involved.

Game theory teaches that to get the best outcome, you need to predict what actions everyone involved in a given situation is likely to take and then tailor your own move accordingly.

Say you're interested in a job opening at your company that would be a promotion. Before deciding whether to apply, consider your boss' reaction. If your company typically doesn't fill vacancies quickly, leaving your current position could cause a hardship that may lead your boss to give you a less than glowing recommendation. But if your boss is trying to develop a reputation for being great at developing talent, you could expect his full support. "Or they could feel insecure in their own job and view someone wanting to leave their team as a rat abandoning a sinking ship.” Considering all the possibilities can help you decide if you want to apply for the position and, if so, the best way to approach your manager to talk about it.

It could be as simple as explaining to co-workers beforehand why you're interviewing for a new job so they don't feel blindsided if you get it. Or it could be as complicated as mapping out to your family how the pros of moving to a different city outweigh the cons, and taking family members on a road trip so they can see the benefits of this new position for themselves.

To win at the mid-life career change game, you also have to make yourself so appealing to a potential manager or employer that their only logical response is "You're hired." Do that by focusing on the competitive advantages you bring to the table. If you're 40 or older, you don't have time on your side. But you do have experience. Take an inventory of that experience and present it a potential employer as your unique competitive advantage--the characteristics that set you apart from the next person.

"This is different from the 'what color is my parachute' approach, which focuses on what you enjoy". That's not unimportant, but it may not get you hired. What will get you hired is "being able to say, here's what I bring you that's valuable, rare and other people have a hard time copying. That's how you distinguish yourself from other people making the same move."