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How to Change Careers Later in Life

by Lois R. Earles
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There are many reasons to change careers. Some people get stuck in a rut and are seeking a new challenge. Others are forced to change careers due to unforeseen circumstances. Whatever your reason for considering a change, you need to accept that the road ahead is an uncertain one. However, with this guide, you should be able to navigate the choppy waters of a midlife career change.

Do a lot of research

As you get older, your responsibilities grow. You might have kids to look after, a mortgage to pay, and monthly bills to cover. All of this makes changing careers a big decision and not one that should be taken lightly. That’s why it’s crucial to do a lot of research before you make a move.

Start by reading about the career you want to change to, find out what qualifications you need, and find out if there are a lot of job opportunities. In a competitive industry, you are unlikely to be picked over an equally qualified 30-year-old. You should also check out the companies that you are thinking about applying for. Without a lot of research and the correct due diligence, you could be making a huge mistake.

Accept that there are no shortcuts

Nothing worth having comes easy. And that’s true of a midlife career change. You might have to start from the bottom, you might have to take a pay cut, and you might have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get a position. If you’re not dead-set on a new career, all of this could be really off-putting. You’re going to have to accept that there are no shortcuts.

Take it slowly

Don’t quit your job today! Starting a new career is a slow process, so don’t tell your boss what you really think just yet. It’s much better to keep the money coming in while you make the transition. If you’re applying for jobs, take time off work to do them. If you need to gain a new qualification, try and fit it around your current job. Just don’t make any rash decisions; changing careers is a slow burner.

Gain a new qualification

One of the most sure-fire ways of starting a new career is gaining a new qualification. These days, many careers have specific qualifications as an entry-level requirement. This is something you should have found out about in the research stage of swapping careers. Gaining a new qualification can take time. It might be something that you need to fit around your current work schedule.

Alternatively, you might decide to take some time off to get qualified. There are some shortcut options that allow you to use a current qualification as part of a new qualification. For example, you can change a non nursing degree to bsn online.

Think about your transferable skills

One thing that will set you apart from younger candidates is a lifetime of experience. You should also have some transferable skills that you can bring to a position. For example, if you have been working in a senior management role in one industry, you will probably be able to land a similar role in a new industry. You might also have some technical skills that will set you apart. For example, IT skills are more in-demand than ever before.

Nail your CV

If you’re going to stand out, you are going to need an awesome CV. You might not have written one for years, so it’s important to get it updated. Your CV should highlight your transferable skills, achievements in your previous roles, and your wealth of experience. If you’re not confident about writing a CV, get a professional to do it. It will be money well spent when you get the job.

Use your contacts

During our lives, we build up a huge amount of contacts without even realising it. Think about it – you’ve probably got a few hundred friends on Facebook and a similar amount of numbers in your phone. You might have also built up a strong network of contacts during your work life. Some of these people could be called upon to ease your career change.

For example, you might know someone in a similar industry that could give you the inside scoop. Or, you might know someone in recruitment that can help you prepare for interviews. Utilising your network of contacts can help you find the perfect new job.

Expand your network

If you’re scrolling through your contacts and can’t see anyone that can help, why not try and expand your network. With professional social media platforms, like Linkedin, you can reach out to people easier than ever before. Find people in the industry you’re looking to get into and see if they can provide any insight.

You never know, someone might be looking for a new starter, and you could be the perfect fit. If you’re serious about changing your career, spending some time building your network is an important step.

Adjust your goals

If you’re thinking that a midlife career change is going to make you a millionaire, you might need to adjust your goals. Sure, if you have enough time, you could work your way up to a good salary. But, chances are, you are better off in your current position.

Reading about high salaried positions online is one thing but landing them is another. Plus, many companies are looking to build young and dynamic teams that can grow with the company. Your career change could be a big success, but you’ve got to be realistic about it.

Take the leap

Changing careers later in life takes a lot of courage. You might be working harder and for less money. But if you’re really sick of your current position, you should just take the leap. Work isn’t supposed to be easy, but it should be rewarding and enjoyable (at times). If you’re stuck in a dead-end job for the rest of your life, it’s going to be hard to see the positives.

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