A late career change may seem like an unwise decision at first. If you’re unprepared for the shift, then it can be a hugely disrupting presence in your life and risk everything you have worked hard for thus far.
Your strategy makes a big difference here. Success is possible. Remember, many workers have been forced into new careers due to the pandemic and its devastating impact on industries. If some professionals can stick the landing during such a chaotic period, then your chances may be better while things are a bit calmer on the coronavirus front.
There are many things to keep in mind as you embark on a late career change. You must take stock of your positive qualities and perhaps improve other aspects of your skillset. A personal evolution is required alongside the professional one, so keeping yourself open to your own critique is key when jumping from one career to the next.
If you would like more insights on navigating a late career change effectively, read on after the jump for some tips and suggestions.
Question Your Current Career
Before embarking on a career change, it is worth evaluating your current career more closely. When you get to the bottom of your reasoning, you may be able to orchestrate a productive career switch.
The questions to ask yourself should be:
- Are you inclined to be productive? Does the work no longer interest you? Do you arrive at the workplace eager to get started, or are you mindlessly going through the motions? How much time do you spend procrastinating?
- How do others treat you? Is the workplace culture toxic? Does office politics precede everything else? Could your industry be too cutthroat? Have you found making friends challenging?
- Is there potential for progression? Is your hard work sufficiently rewarded? Are you interested in climbing the career ladder? Is promotion all that matters to you? If you are apathetic now, how discontent might you be in the next ten years?
- Are you proud of your work? Does your job cross any moral lines for you? Are your customers and clients given value for their money? Is the firm ran with the best of intentions?
These are just some of the lines of enquiry you could introspectively explore on your own. The stronger your feelings in favor of a career change, the better. Keep pushing for answers, and your direction in life may become more evident.
Look for Inspiration
The career you switch to must be something that genuinely excites you. Your effort cannot be aimless.
Some people seek to escape their existing careers out of desperation. Subsequently, they may leap into a new industry or job role that is not quite for them. They can always change again, but the costs associated with each career change and potential move can be extortionate. Ultimately, if you are going to switch, you need to succeed the first time, and inspiration can put you on the right path.
Try to do some research around what careers appeal to you most. Be patient and weigh the pros and cons of each potential change honestly. Remember that there are resources out there to help you secure well-paid work in growing industries, so consult those if necessary. Spend a few months sourcing inspiration and collating different ideas if you do not have one already.
Use Your Experience
If possible, you should bring much of your existing self to your new role. After years of accumulating experience, it is important that it all does not go to total waste.
Keep your transferable skills in mind as you push forward. Think about your aptitude for problem-solving, analysis, leadership or communication. Perhaps you have effective writing skills that could be put to good use? Remember that no matter where you work, some skills are universally applicable.
You could also pass on what you know. A career switch to coaching could be viable. You should explore opportunities around NLP life coaching certification to boost your chances of success here, giving you all the tools and knowledge you need to become a successful life coach. Flexibly work on your coursework on their online platform, and immerse yourself in their weekly training sessions to enhance your skillset.
It can be tempting to reset everything during a career change, giving you the sense of a fresh start. However, by building on what you know already, you can give your prospects a head start of sorts as you push forward.
Seek out a Life Coach
If you do not wish to become a life coach yourself, these roles can still be useful to you. Why not be a paying client yourself?
Life coaches are not therapists. Typically, they are entrepreneurs who specialize in a particular area of life, whether personal or professional. Do some research and see if a life coach can mentor you through your career change. The knowledge that they pass on to you could be invaluable.
Make sure the life coaches you work with have all the necessary credentials, such as coaching certifications. Set a high standard for the types of professionals you want to work with. Ask around your personal or professional network for recommendations, and be sure to field the reviews of past clients. After all of that, you should have additional assurances around the person you are working with.
A career change can be a sensitive and uncertain time for you, and you should not walk into it blindly. The wisdom of others can give you consensus and direction, so be open to feedback. A life coach will keep you firmly focused on the future and shape you into a formidable presence on your new career path.
When tailoring your job applications, try not to focus on the past too much. Unfortunately, many older people embarking on a career change may face elements of ageism in the hiring process, so minimizing that wherever possible could be helpful.
Staying current could help your employment chances a great deal. This can involve:
- Staying healthy and active – Some people can look younger than their years through good exercise and eating well. The more physically able you appear, the better.
- Use technology well – Some stereotypes involve older people being less competent with technology. A basic understanding of computers and mobile devices is not hard to achieve, so spend some time brushing up on all the latest devices, software, and social media platforms.
- Choose an age–friendly industry – Some industries may be more ageist than others. Do some research to see where your years may work in your favor, such as teaching or any number of leadership positions.
It may seem unfair or uncouth to try and win ageists over rather than change the system outrightly. However, in defying stereotypes and working hard, your point should be made well enough during your job search. After changing careers, you may be able to change things far more impactfully from the inside.
Establish Boundaries with Yourself
Many people closely intertwine their personal and professional personalities together. Some people do not know who they are without their career.
However, it is crucial to have distinctly separate personal and professional identities, both for your career prospects and your sense of sanity. The switch can be much easier when you do not feel like sacrificing all you are to make the change. Your job may define you are to some degree, but it should not be the sole reason for which you live your life.
Having a broad range of hobbies and friendships can be enough to keep you grounded. Be strict with your working hours, and have downtime where your work machines are powered down. Sign out of your email accounts too. Create separate social media accounts for personal and professional endeavors, and consider buying a new phone that features contact information for friends and family only. Seek out therapy should you need it.
When you have established boundaries between your professional and personal lives, your mind may be much less crowded. You will be less susceptible to stress, self-doubt, and tunnel vision. Things should become clearer, enabling you to act on your career change in a more timely and decisive fashion.
Consult Your Spouse or Partner
Part of knowing yourself means listening to those who know you best. If you have a spouse or partner, they likely fall into this category.
Pay a healthy amount of focus to your personal relationships. Loved ones can be highly supportive during a time of such crucial change. They may be able to calm you when you are stressed or encourage you when self-doubt inevitably creeps in at some stage. Your spouse or partner can help you stay motivated, and their insights could be valuable as well.
Of course, the extent to which you listen to your spouse or partner is up to you. If they are indecisive or frequently disparaging of your career choices, it may be a good idea to phase them out of the decision if appropriate. However, they may provide valuable insights around budgeting for the career change or otherwise making ends meet during the beginning of your new career. Keep them in the loop where possible.
Your decisions here could even embolden your relationship. After all, nobody likes having the rug pulled out from under their feet, and some people find that their partner’s work stress becomes their own in time. Additionally, your choices may affect them to some degree, so it is vital to include them in the decision-making. Being transparent in your important decisions is a mark of respect, and all healthy relationships are built on that foundation.
Your professional connections matter just as much as your personal ones. Certain individuals should be notified that you are changing careers.
By switching careers, you should use all the resources you have available to you. Your existing network and your aptitude for further networking opportunities can hugely influence how much success you may experience. You can network efficiently by:
- Start early – If your career switch seems to ‘make sense’, connections may be more inclined to reach out to you. Like or create social media posts that highlight your interest in your preferred industry long before announcing any definite change. Browse your LinkedIn page to see if any of your connections work in the industry you wish to switch to.
- Practice discretion – Notify trusted contacts of your impending career change, and make sure they keep your confidence. Do not announce your plans far and wide too early, as it may anger your employer. If you are self-employed, you could make your intentions known sooner.
- Attend industry-specific events – Mix with the professionals in your desired industry. Attend their talks and make any notes of key speakers that intrigue you. Remember that the UK is a relatively small place, so set your sights beyond local events.
- Keep networking – Once your switch is underway, you must keep nurturing your networking relationships. Touch base with contacts who have helped you already, as you may be able to rely on their support in future.
- Display gratitude – Try not to phrase things publicly as you abandoning one failing career for a more promising one. Focus on the idea of a ‘new challenge’, and you will not make any enemies.
Your ability to network is instrumental to your success. Sensitivity and tact are required here, so consider the feelings of others and how your departure may be interpreted. Behave with respect and reverence for your old and new industries, and many doors may open for you.
A late career change can be a mad scramble for stability. However, with a well-reasoned approach, you can lend more structure and strategy to your efforts. Try to open channels of communication with those in your personal and professional lives. Use your seasoned veteran status to your advantage, and let your past successes and skills fuel your confidence. Be honest with yourself, and be certain of what you want from your life. After all of this, your career change will be a natural advancement in your journey.