10 tips for a successful midlife career change.
If you’ve reached midlife and find your career no longer holds your interest or enthusiasm like it used to, what can you do about it? In my book, The Midlife Crisis Handbook, I talk about the necessity of staying in the liminal space – a betwixt and between space when you don’t feel the person you currently are truly resonates with the person you used to be, but you’re not yet the person you want to become. Essentially you are in in-between identities.
In the liminal space, considering a career change can be part of the life you want to change and requires careful planning, preparation and execution. Here are 10 essential tips to help guide you through this tricky space and into a successful transition:
- Self-reflection: Start by understanding your motivations, interests, values, and skills. Reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, and what you enjoy doing. Consider the type of work environment and culture that aligns with your preferences. This self-reflection will help you identify potential career paths that suit you. I encourage clients to print off a list of 100 different careers and job (if you google ‘career profile’ you’ll find this) and watch your energy as you read through the various job titles. Notice when your enthusiasm rises and falls and use this rising energy or interest as an indicator for further exploration.
- Research and explore: Once you have an idea of the direction you want to pursue, thoroughly research the new career field. Learn about job prospects, industry trends, required qualifications, and potential growth opportunities. Talk to professionals in the field, attend industry events, and read relevant publications to gain insights. Again read job descriptions of actual roles on job sites to see if you want to read or learn more about his particular career and have a genuine curiosity or small flutters of excitement about the role.
- Identify transferable skills: Assess the skills and experiences you have gained in your current or previous roles that can be transferred to the new career. Identify the overlapping skills and highlight them in your resume, cover letter, and interviews. Showcase how your existing expertise can be valuable in the new field. Be careful to choose any aspects of the different jobs you have had over the years that you are good at, are praised for, still hold your curiosity or you know you look forward to doing.
- Fill knowledge gaps: Determine if you need to acquire new knowledge or skills for the desired career. Consider taking courses, enrolling in training programs, pursuing certifications, or obtaining additional education to bridge any gaps. This will help you build credibility and demonstrate your commitment to the new field.
- Build a professional network: Networking is essential for a successful career change. Connect with professionals in the industry you’re targeting through networking events, online platforms, and professional associations. Attend industry conferences, join relevant communities, and seek mentorship from individuals with experience in your desired field. Networking can provide valuable insights, job leads, and support during your transition. If you’re more introvert and struggle with this, then consider joining online groups, magazine career subscriptions or going to lectures online to ‘be around’ people doing this job already, explore their enthusiasm and culture and their take on industry prospects and changes.
- Gain practical experience: If possible, seek opportunities to gain hands-on experience in your new field. This can include internships, volunteer work, freelancing, or part-time roles. Practical experience will not only enhance your skills but also give you exposure and make you more attractive to potential employers.
- Tailor your application materials: Customise your resume, cover letter, and online profiles to align with your new career goals. Highlight transferable skills, relevant experiences, and any accomplishments that demonstrate your ability to excel in the new field. Clearly articulate how your background can contribute value to the new role or industry.
- Seek support and guidance: Consider working with a career coach, mentor, or joining support groups for individuals making career transitions. They can provide guidance, accountability, and valuable feedback throughout the process. Their expertise and perspective can help you navigate challenges and stay motivated. They can also reflect and comment on your energy or body language as you talk about change, things you might not be aware of.
- Be open to starting at a lower level: Recognise that a career change may require starting at a lower level or taking a step back in terms of seniority or salary. Be willing to make the necessary adjustments to gain experience and establish yourself in the new field. Focus on the long-term growth potential and opportunities for advancement. I have recently watched some terrific documentaries on Netflix of women working and contributing to others in their 70s and 80s, taking a stance that you still have time to pursue something new can really help to make quality decisions rather than feeling you need to shift slightly but not fully due to age. If you felt, you had another 20 years to contribute – how would that change the career decisions and how you want to spend your time, today.
- Stay adaptable and persistent: Making a career change can be a challenging process with ups and downs. Stay adaptable, open to learning, and willing to adjust your approach as needed. Maintain a positive mindset, be persistent in pursuing opportunities, and leverage setbacks as learning experiences to propel yourself forward.
Remember that a successful career change takes time and effort. Be patient, stay focused on your goals, and celebrate small milestones along the way. With the right strategy, determination, and a proactive mindset, you can make a successful transition to a new and fulfilling career.