Whether you’re burned out, want more out of life, feel stagnated, or restless; a midlife career change is far more common than people seem to think. If this is something you have been considering for a while, we have good news for you. While a many of them end up in similar burn-out positions, a handful is able to find something different and make a success out of it by thinking out of the box. Whatever your reasons are for moving on, now is the best time.
Think about your skills and passions
A big problem which a lot of job-seekers experience, when they’re no longer a fresh-faced graduate, is that potential employers are looking for a young addition to their team. This doesn’t mean that making a change is hopeless and that you should never have thought of it in the first place – it just means that you need to approach it differently.
The first mistake they make is to randomly apply for something they’re mildly excited about and hope to be called in for an interview. Needless to say, their applications are often unsuccessful, and the eager job applicant is demotivated and disappointed with this first round of failure. The reality is that random applications for positions which are listed online is a conventional approach and not at all up your alley anymore.
A good way to start off is to have a look at your current job and think about what kind of skills it requires, as well as how you can stand out as an applicant. You undoubtedly have many sought-after skills that younger job-seekers never could compete with. Next, have a long and hard look at the industry you’re interested in.
Far too many mid-life career changers leap into the first and best job they can find – and almost always end up feeling unsatisfied and restless after a year or two.
This is the right time for you to analyze your current job and ask yourself if it’s actually the job you hate – or the organization. If you’re fed up with the people you work with, can’t stand your leaders, and feel nauseated by the office culture you need to work in, consider if transferring to another company is a better option. You’ll have the same opportunities for prospering and can use the skills you have – but the change will be significant enough for you to still find it exciting.
Although it is mildly intimidating to make a career swap at this age, and you’re probably going to receive a mix of opinions from your friends and family, it’s important to be happy in the job you’re in. You want a job you can be excited about waking up for, an occupation that gives you a feeling of doing something meaningful for others.
Don’t listen to those voices of concern; just make sure you have a sound financial plan, that your heart is in the right place, and know that doing something about a miserable situation is far better than doing nothing at all.
Get out and network
The knowledge you gather is going to come in handy when you’re out networking. Read up on as much as you can, talk to people, and let them know that you’re on the look-out for something new. If you’re still in your current job, it’s a good idea to start here by making new contacts and teaming up with others who are also considering to move on.
It’s not to stage some sort of mass walk-out from the office, but rather to broaden your horizons a bit; new friends will introduce you to even more new people and your chances for finding the right kind of contact increases.
Find a middle step
When you’re serious about finding a career that is not only right for you but that you’re also passionate about, you won’t skimp on the research. If you want to move into a different area, you might realize that the step you have to take is too large; you won’t be able to fill the shoes, so to speak. It’s no point in being disheartened, though, as most newcomers in any industry will have to work their way up – sometimes over many years.
You’re older than most of the fresh-faced graduates, so find a middle step to gain experience before you try your luck at the career you really want.
It doesn’t have to be a different job either; going back to university or taking a relevant course are excellent options. Furthering your education can give you the weight you need to be desirable in the eyes of a potential employee – and it’s so easy to fit this into your schedule these days.
When you’ve been an accountant for the last twenty years or so, your sudden application for a job in criminalistics is going to look optimistic, at best. You don’t have any relevant experience and show no signs of being particularly interested in the job; so why should they choose you over a younger model? An accountant who’s applying for the same position and has already taken a relevant educational course, on the other hand, is going to be seen as driven and motivated.
It’s up to you how comprehensive the course you’d like to take is going to be, and different fields require different levels of training so make sure you do your research first. If you’re not that interested in embarking on an educational course, look towards not-for-profit organizations instead; the sector is booming and in need of people like you who can offer relevant skills. It can be a nice break from your normal office job, or simply a middle step to get the experience you need for a career in a different industry.
Before you make any radical and life-changing decisions, have a look at your reasons for wanting change. It’s normal to experience some sort of restlessness in your early forties, and you don’t want to get carried away when you just as easily could have settled this feeling with a hiking trip or mountain climbing.