At some point in every adult’s mid-life, there comes a moment when the realization occurs that there must be something better out there in terms of a career. In fact, job surveys indicate as many as 60 percent of the adult working population want to change careers. Like a blazing headlight, a mid-life career change can be a moment of partial blindness followed by shining clarity.
Maybe it’s human nature to return to one’s talents in search of a more enjoyable career? Or perhaps a recent layoff or industry change makes it a necessity to survive financially. Either way, a career change at mid-life can be a scary prospect that leaves many individuals wondering where to start. However, this can also be an exciting time when everything is possible and job satisfaction is within grasp…with a plan of course.
If you’ve found yourself wandering the mid-life career change highway, here is a guide to get you on the path to success.
Discover your strengths and interests.
The key to any career search is to uncover your unique strengths, motivators, and skills that you bring to the table. Identify what you are passionate about and how that translates to a new career. In some cases, you may realize that you actually like some aspects of your current career, but not everything. Focus down on the things you enjoy and this will make it easier to find a career that honors your gifts.
Understand that work cannot make you happy.
A good many people think that the type of work they perform is a direct reflection of their individuality, which could not be further from the truth. A career, any career, cannot fulfill you as a person. This is a time for some deep reflection of your values, your experiences, and the things that make you happy in your daily life. While a different job may seem better, in a short time you could find yourself back at square one if you don’t deal with any underlying issues first.
Make a financial plan for your lifestyle.
Switching careers is not only difficult on your psyche, but it can be dangerous to your wallet if you don’t handle this with care. Before changing careers, get your finances in order and pay down any debt you currently have. Then put a nice chunk of money into your savings account for a rainy day and your retirement fund, because they will eventually come and sooner than you think! Going into a new career with financial security can give you more confidence and lessen the fears you may have.
Set reachable goals for your career.
You and you alone can determine the outcome of your mid-life career quest. This will take sheer determination and a commitment to yourself like no other. Start out by discovering what your true career goals are, with an online assessment or program like Make It Happen, a free career newsletter with expert guidance offered by Payscale.com! Once you have revealed your goals, chart your progress and be accountable.
Utilize and grow your professional networks.
Over the years, you’ve likely built up a nice list of personal and professional contacts. With social media, that list has grown substantially. The people you have in your circles can be your best allies when it comes to a mid-life career change. Connect with your networks and let them know about your career aspirations. Talk to those who are currently working in your target career to gain better insight. Ask for referrals and consider working with a recruiter to help you land your dream job sooner.
Learn your way to a better career and salary.
Education is a critical aspect of changing careers mid-life. Employers often encounter mature workers who have gone the extra mile by getting a new college degree, participating in community learning events, and earning industry certifications. It shows you are serious and committed to a better career, and you have the current skills to back this up. Keep your eyes open for ways to advance through learning and you’ll find that you may be qualified for better paying jobs that offer the opportunity you seek.
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