Be the Boss Over Cancer

I am 62 years old and a 10 month survivor of breast cancer.  I've worked as a realtor for the last 12 years, and owned two other small businesses, as well as worked in visual retail merchandising for small and large businesses.  My background is in art.  Since last fall, I've been on a quest to discover what to do with the rest of my life.   I've reviewed the numerous personality/career tests taken over the years, journaled most every day, and applied for a visual merchandising job.  (I checked with the company several times, but received no call to interview, even though my credentials were "spot on".)  I'm overwhelmed and need to feel purposeful and directed.  What suggestions do you have?


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  • Rosalind Joffe

    Rosalind Joffe on Jul 24, 2012

    Career Coach Comment:

    Dear Jan

    First,  you refer to your quest as finding what you'll do for the rest of your life.  That sounds like a big task to me.  Have you considered thinking of this as another step instead?  I've found that it's easy to think that your life might/could be shortened after experiencing breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.  But it can also be overwhelming to think the next thing you do will be your last 'shot' at it.

    Next, you didn't say why you are no longer working as a realtor so I'm not clear why you haven't returned to that career.  Although it's certainly easiest to return to what we know, particularly if you're still dealing with health issues, it sounds as if that isn't an option that you want to pursue. You've certainly got a strong portfolio of interesting career activities to build on. 

    So, it sounds as if you're looking to 'reinvent' your professional life.  Is that right?  That said, it sounds as if you've tried several things and nothing is helping.   Have you looked at this good website, Encore Careers, that has information about this.  You might also try working with a career coach who can help you focus if all the information you've gathered is just confusing you. 

    It really shouldn't be too hard to figure out what you want to do.  The next steps are to find out what is possible and realistic for you.

    Good luck with the journey.


    Rosalind Joffe

  • Judi Swedek

    Judi Swedek on Jul 31, 2012

    Career Coach Comment:

    Dear Jan,

    I'm curious as to why you no longer want to stay in real estate? Is it the market? Are you burned out? It's hard to make a change after doing something for 12 years, so it's always good to examine the why of changing and also if there is anything that you can transition into that may be similar or related in nature. These types of transitions are easier than something totally different from what you have been doing.

    You mention being perfect for the job, but not receiving a call back. Don't be discouraged. There have been many times I have applied for jobs for which I was a perfect fit for their needs and never received a call. You may also want to review your resume to determine if it is best representing your skills, knowledge and abilities for the particular job. Do you have the key words included from the job advertisement? Most organizations using scanning tools to highlight those candidates they want to consider. So if you have the key words in your resume, it is more likely to be reviewed.

    Since you haven't been in this industry for a number of years, you may want to consider a combination resume. Look in the resources on this website for some examples. Also, look online for examples and websites, including, for more information and samples. Since you're making a career change, a traditional resume may not best highlight what you have to offer since this is a career that you are not currently engaged in.

    Lastly and most importantly, network. Attend networking events, industry events, find individuals in companies for which you would like to work...most jobs are found via networking. So it's important that you spend your time connecting with others as they will ultimately hold the key that opens the door to your next opportunity. I find that a positive off shoot of networking is that be being with others you feel better about yourself and your possibilities.

    Much success to you...may you find what you are looking for,

    Judi Swedek

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