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Is age just a number in your career?

6: The number of days Mary, Queen of Scots, had been alive when she became queen in 1542.

 99: The age of Leo Plass when he graduated from Eastern Oregon University with an associate degree.

 20: Mark Zuckerberg’s age when he created Facebook (and dropped out of college).

 42: The age of Theodore Roosevelt when he became president.

 32: Warren Buffett’s age when he made his first million.

 Success can happen at any age. But is there an age when you need to decide whether you have a job or a long-term career? It depends, experts say, but the sooner you start planning for your career, the sooner you’ll start seeing the rewards. Here’s some advice on how to determine when it’s time to pursue your career.

 Start your career now for life-long benefits

Younger workers may think they have plenty of time to try out different occupations before settling on a career path. However, establishing a career early on may have future benefits.

  “I would say it is very important for people at a young age to try to build a specialty and research the job market’s demand for that specialty,” says Riva Froymovich, author of “End of the Good Life,” a book that deals with the impact of the financial crisis on Millennials. “You may be able to transfer those skills to a different career later in life. But in their near- and medium-term goals, Millennials need to focus on ways to enter the job market in a stable profession. Research shows that a lack of job stability early on in life will impact one’s ability to find a stable career well into middle age and can impact one’s salary and benefits. By extension, it could also impact their happiness and health. Given the outlook for unemployment for the under-35 age bracket for the years ahead, that means gaining focus, skills and drive must be a priority early on. The economy is too uncertain to not take the right steps today to ensure a stable tomorrow.”

Once you find the right fit, start building on your success

“The sooner you can embrace a career-focused mindset, the better,” says Christopher Anderson, co-founder of website builder “I don’t think there’s a specific age, because the realization occurs to people at different times depending on their circumstances. The big difference between thinking of your work in terms of a career versus a job is the idea of continuity, and a goal of progressively gaining deeper and more valuable experience in a specific set of disciplines.”

 According to Anderson, having a job implies that it’s a one-off endeavor — you work primarily to get a paycheck, and the next job may be something completely different. “Whereas a career inherently focuses on continually improving your skills in a certain area of work, making yourself more valuable over time, and ultimately giving you a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness. It’s never too late, but if you can start thinking about your career early on in life, you’ll be better off.”

Susan Ricker, CareerBuilder Writer

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