A good number of people might claim they’re unhappy in their current career, but when it comes down to it, they might not consider shifting to a new field unless they’re obliged to. If you’ve decided to change careers, you’re probably well aware it’s a major move. Whether it’s job dissatisfaction, a need for new challenges, or something else, you’ll want to plan your change carefully so you can achieve what you set out to. The following insights and tips could assist you in making a successful change that’s far less daunting than you might expect.
1. Determine what you want
A successful shift begins with knowing yourself and what you want. It’s best to avoid rushing into a career change because you’re dissatisfied with your current career. Despite this, more than one in three (35%) of over 50s are compelled to apply for new jobs or change careers later in life, rather than making a shift by their own choice. Even if you’ve been forced to make a change, it’s important to think about what you like and research possible options. Ideally you’ll be able to take some time to think about your personality and interests and what makes you happy in work. Reflect on your career path so far and what you’ve learned about yourself in that time. Write down what you want in your new career and what interests you.
2. Formulate a career plan
To formulate a career plan, consider your age, retirement planning, qualifications, and skills. Then note down a list of possible career paths you’ll do more research on. Once you’ve conducted further research, you can start eliminating a few options to find one or two that closely match your background and passions. Don’t omit reviewing the projected demand for these occupations, along with factors like salary, lifestyle and work-life balance, and other important considerations.
When shortlisting possible new careers, consider any areas of overlap, especially in terms of skills required, between your former career and prospective new ones. These similarities can support a smoother transition into a new career, as you’ll have certain competencies or areas of knowledge that you’re already familiar with. Once you’ve listed possible roles or careers, write down your current skills. Work out what transferable skills you have and areas you might need to upskill in. Then you can decide whether you need to undertake more training before making the shift, which for most, is likely.
Also research whether you’ll need to fulfill certification, licensing, and other regulatory requirements. In addition, looking at job ads is an excellent way to find out the kind of skills and certifications employers require. Once you’ve settled on an occupation, write down your short-term and long-term goals in this new career path. This will clarify your objectives in your new career and keep you focused as you progress.
3. Rebranding and resume update
Update your resume and online professional profiles in preparation for your career shift. Make sure you get to know the relevant industry language and incorporate these in your profiles where appropriate. When applying for jobs, you’ll need to further tailor your resume to the employer so you can emphasize the skills each employer is most interested in. Make sure your resume is optimized for applicant tracking systems and complies with recruiters’ requirements.
4. Embrace younger colleagues
When transitioning to a new career, it’s likely you’ll end up working with a lot more younger colleagues. Be ready to embrace them and be open to their views. They could end up providing valuable feedback and, more specifically, support as you gain a foothold in your new role. In turn, you could share your own useful insights, experience, and knowledge with them. Don’t hesitate to build strong working relationships with your younger colleagues as well as those closer to your age group.
5. Putting things in perspective
Maintaining a realistic mindset from the very start of your career transition could support you in staying resilient. It could help you avoid disappointment. This is because you’ll have more realistic expectations about what you can do and be able to set reasonable, grounded targets. Similarly, taking smaller steps at the start, whether it’s an internship or trying for part-time roles, could see you making an easier transition as you get to know the industry and find out whether it’s a good fit for you.
6. Maintain flexibility
Stay flexible as you make this major shift. One element of remaining flexible is openness to learning and doing things differently than what you might be used to. Keep up with changes in the industry and tap into resources to keep your knowledge up to date. This could be reading more books and magazines and attending industry events.
Another aspect of this could be openness to making concessions and sacrifices. For example, you might be looking at less pay but better work-life balance. You might have worked in senior positions in the last decade but pursuing a new career pathway could mean taking on a more junior role. Alternatively, you might be working part-time or in contract positions initially as you build your experience in the field.
7. Connect with mentors and coaches
You’ll want to have the support of your friends and family with a major change such as a career shift. They could provide useful feedback on resumes, cover letters, and interview practice. In the same way, be ready to reach out to possible mentors and coaches who can give you the support to succeed in your new career. Career coaches can give you valuable tips to navigate and counter ageism during your job search.
Making a career change later in life can be a successful, rewarding experience if you plan it right. Obtain the support of loved ones and your professional network, and maintain a positive, realistic attitude. Be open and flexible about upskilling and working differently, especially with younger colleagues. A significant shift like this takes effort and dedication, but you could end up with the self-actualization and professional satisfaction you’re looking for while regaining your passion for your working life.