Tips for Changing Careers at 30, 40 or 50+

guide to changing careers at age 30, 40 or 50Changing careers isn’t easy, but if you’re unhappy with your current line of work, it’s an option to consider.

It doesn’t matter if you’re changing careers at 30, 40, 50, or really any age. The amount of time you’ve invested in your current career is a sunk cost either way. You’re never going to get it back. Spending even more time in a career you hate because you’ve already spent a lot of time sounds pretty crazy right?

I’ve divided these tips into 2 sections:
  1. How to evaluate if you should make a career change
  2. How to find a new job if you decide that changing careers is the right move

Tips for Changing Careers at Age 30, 40, or 50+

Part 1: Common signs that you’re ready for a career change

  • You no longer care about the work your company and similar companies are doing. Continuing to work in a field that you’re not interested in will eventually have a negative impact on your performance and career growth. If this sounds like you, consider changing careers. Or find a way to care. But staying put and doing nothing will slowly decrease your effort and quality of work.
  • You feel that you’re no longer learning or advancing in a certain career. That’s a good reason to make a career change as well. But I’d recommend talking to your boss first and making sure there isn’t a path forward that excites you in your current line of work. If you never tell your boss that you’re not being challenged, he/she can’t do anything about it. But sometimes nothing can be done even after communicating your concerns. It’s nobody’s fault, but it’s a good reason to shift your career into an area that will provide new growth opportunities.
  • If your occupation has dim employment prospects in the future overall. This is another good reason to be proactive and make a change. If you’re seeing a trend where less and less work is available, or your skill set is becoming less valuable to companies or clients, it’s a great idea to consider making a change before you’re forced to.

Part 2: Changing careers successfully

If you’ve decided to change careers, Congrats! Figuring out what field you want to move into is just as important though, so do your research online and by talking with friends/colleagues. The perception and reality of a career can be different, so make sure you know what’s involved.
Once you’ve done this, you should begin applying for jobs. There are a couple of things to consider during this process.
  • Your resume/cover letter. Companies are usually looking to hire people that have relevant experience and can make an immediate impact. This is the challenge of making a career change, especially at age 30+. Think about any parallels between your recent experience (emphasis on recent) and the required skill set in your new career. Tailor your resume to highlight this and show as much overlap as possible. Once you’ve adjusted your resume, you’re ready to start applying for jobs. When you write a cover letter for your applications, deliver this same type of message there as well.
  • Job interviewing. In interviews, be prepared for questions about your motivation for changing careers. Rather than bad-mouthing your current company or career, you can say that you’ve learned a lot but feel ready for a new challenge, and then you can highlight some of the positives related to the new career you’re pursuing (ie- what attracted you to this position). Also, remember the resume/cover letter advice and be prepared to do the same thing here- Be ready to point the interviewer’s attention toward any and all experience that you have in common with the job requirements.

Did this advice help? Got other questions? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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1 comment
Nick Hughes says November 1, 2015

Many of my executives have got into their current positions without ever having a career plan or set priorities. All of a sudden they have reached 40 and someone like me is asking about their careers. What I notice is that executives (or career-minded individuals) often feel they have left it too late, when they could have made a career transition much earlier rather than waiting until they reached 40! Hindsight is a good thing, but one crucial bit of advice is to continually review career progress, set clear priorities and retain focus on achieving goals. Good article – agreed knowing the signs of when to make the change is important rather than waiting too late.

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