Making a career change over 40 isn’t any easier than it was in your 20s or 30s. Whether your decision is based on your desire to finally pursue your dreams or a need to find a new career path due to an ever-shrinking market or faltering industry, making a career change in mid-life can leave even the most confident job seekers asking themselves, “How do I find a new career?”
Before you start sending out resumes, you must first take the time to make a plan for your next career – assessing your skills (including those that may be transferable in your new field) and really plotting a new trajectory for yourself.
Do a Little Job Research
Just the idea of starting over can be both scary and exciting. But don’t let the fear be paralyzing, or keep you from making a change. It can also be rather easy to get carried away by the dazzle and romance of new possibilities. The best way to keep your wits about you during this time of uncertainty is by arming yourself with information. A career change can often mean, not only a new position or role but, most times, a whole new industry. Before making a move you need to investigate the realities of both the role and the industry you hope to start your new career in.
* Employ the help of a Career or Life Coach to guide you in making and executing your plan for a new career path.
* Start by exploring your career possibilities, picking those that interest you most and researching them online or through your local library.
* Next speak with people in your intended industry or those who hold the position you desire. Ask them if you could informally interview them about their career to discuss the realities of what it takes to work in their field and what it’s like.
* Attend professional meetings and industry or trade association conferences. The goal of these organizations is to support the development and advancement of people in that particular field or industry, they would likely be able to give you invaluable information or point you towards a mentor.
* Once you’ve narrowed down your job possibilities, assess your current skill set to see what experience you already have that could serve you well for that position and what skills you would need to develop. Is there a sizeable gap in your knowledge and skills? If so, you’ll need to ask yourself, “would the time and money you’d need to invest be worth the investment to bridge these gaps?”
Using these multiple methods to assess your career potential will help you minimize risk and remain realistic about what it will take to make a smooth transition to your new career.
Take your New Career for a Test Drive
You’ve done your research and assessed your skills but how will you know for sure that your new career will be a good fit for you or not? The only way to know for sure is to actually do the job, which means it’s time to put your new career choice to the test.
Look for part-time opportunities, job shadowing with a mentor, open internships or apprenticeships, or work as a contractor. These no-strings-attached jobs can provide the perfect opportunity to explore your target career, learning the industry standards and expectations, meeting people and trying out your specific skills and experience, without making a long term commitment. These experiments can be done before you’ve given up your current position. Once you found something that feels like a good fit, you can begin to move forward with your transition, with the peace of mind that you are making a choice that will serve you well. As you begin your transition, here are some things you can do to ensure your future success:
Lastly Re-brand yourself – Ageless
Part of your new career transition is reinventing yourself and consequently, who you are and what you do as a brand. To create a new professional identify or re-brand yourself and develop your reputation in a new industry or field you’ll need to define what your new brand stands for and communicate these effectively through resumes, social networks like LinkedIn and business cards. Then develop a plan to market yourself. Taking the time to think this through before creating a resume or portfolio tailored for your new career will allow you to build credibility quickly in your new field.
Branding, Resume and Interview Tips
* Skip language that points to your age like “energetic,” “youthful,” “seasoned” or “veteran” and instead focus on your knowledge of current trends and state of the art developments in your industry.
* Limit your resume to one page or the last 15 years of applicable experience
* Focus on your results instead of the number of years of experience
* Skip graduation dates – they’re irrelevant and show your age
* Highlight recent certifications, trainings or newly developed skills
* Downplay titles, especially those that showcase a senior management position and may end up disqualifying you for an entry level position in your new career.
* Be specific about your experience not in years but rather by using concrete numbers to speak about your accomplishments in company efficiency, growth or revenue.