In this Career Change blog series, I’ll be exploring the dynamics of a career change at three different age milestones: 30, 40, and 50. One thing to remember about career change is that no matter what age you are, it’s possible if you want to make it happen. Career change at 30 is possible for anyone that really wants it! Of course, along the way, there are different challenges unique to each age group – and in these posts, I want to explore the differences people tend to experience at different life stages when navigating a career change.
Challenge #1 for a Career Change at 30 – Figuring out what you like and dislike about your current career.
If you’re considering a career change at 30, chances are you don’t like your current job. You may even hate it, or you may just know deep inside this isn’t the right fit for you. I get it – in fact, I’ve been there myself. I started my career in HR, and worked in it for almost 10 years. Early on, I knew I wasn’t happy in the role and couldn’t see myself working in a HR role for the rest of my life. But I didn’t understand WHY I didn’t like it, and you might be facing the same problem.
Even more challenging – you need to identify what you LIKE about your current role. Sure, I get it – when asked the question “What do you like about your job?”, your first reaction might be… “Ummmm…… nothing!!?? That’s why I want a career change.”
But think about it. Is there anything you sort of enjoy? Any aspects that you don’t mind about your job? For example, I didn’t enjoy a lot about my job, but I DID enjoy training and coaching people, as well as helping them develop and succeed in their careers. Identifying this was important – although challenging – because it helped lead me to where I am now.
Challenge #2 for a Career Change at 30 – Try to Listen to Yourself, and Do What YOU Really Want.
It can be really difficult to focus on what’s most important to you, especially as you’re still learning about yourself. The expectations of other people can often weigh heavily on you, so you might be worrying about what others think, including parents, friends, or even society as a whole.
It’s also likely you’ve spent quite a bit of time and effort in building your career and obtaining your education so far. People you speak with are HIGHLY likely to encourage you to keep on the same career path you’re already on. You’re likely to hear a lot of comments like “Just stick with it – it’ll get better,” or “So you’re just going to throw away all that experience and time you’ve invested?”
Don’t let these kind of comments influence your choices – what you do with your life is your decision. Try to remember that a lot of these comments from family and friends reflect that they care about you and want what THEY think is best for you. These types of comments may also reflect people’s own fears about uncertainty and leaving their own jobs. They could be individuals that highly value job security and stability, and can’t imagine facing a change.
Ultimately, you won’t be “throwing away” experience and time you’ve invested in your career. Look at it this way – you’ve already learned a lot, gained experience, and learned something about what you like and don’t like. I’m a firm believer that any job provides you with valuable skills and experience that you can use throughout your career – check out my article on how to use transferable skills to navigate a career change to learn more about that.
Ultimately, you need to listen to yourself and do some serious self-reflection to understand what YOU want. That can take some time, which leads us to the next challenge to be aware of.
Challenge # 3 for a Career Change at 30 – Take the time to think before you leap.
When you aren’t happy with what you’re doing, you may often feel desperate for a way out. Since you’re not enjoying your job, it’s often a high priority for you to do something, anything, to get away from what you don’t like, so you can start doing something you’ll actually enjoy! (And why wouldn’t finding work you look forward to be a priority, after all?)
However, it can be really valuable to take the time to plan your next move rather than quickly quit your job, no matter how much you want to. From a financial perspective, it makes things much less stressful, and it’s important to really think things through before you make a decision.
Take some time to think and explore your options before rushing back to school as well. Many people will decide to enroll in an expensive educational program such as a Master’s degree before fully exploring the possibilities. It might be the right choice for you, but why not take some time to really think about your options before making such a huge financial and time investment?
There are a lot of resources that can help you with the process. My article on how to navigate a career change in a great starting point. There are a lot of career assessments available that can help you learn more about your interests, preferences, and values. In addition, working with a career coach or counsellor can be very helpful in providing you with a new perspective on your career, assist you in meeting goals, and help you develop a strategy to transition your career.
Final Tip for Career Change (At Any Age)
The most important thing to remember is that the only one who can decide if a career change is right for you… is you! Everyone else in your life (friends, family, co-workers, bosses, etc.) may have opinions and insight, but the opinion that matters the most is yours. You are the only one who can truly know what you want to do with your life, and although others can help, the final decision is ultimately yours.
However – If you are facing the prospect of waking up every day, wishing you didn’t have to go to work, and wishing the days away waiting for the weekends – that’s a clear sign you need a change.
A career coach or counsellor can help if you know you need a change, but don’t know how to get there. If you’re facing a career change, I’d love to help you! My blog has lots of articles to help get you started, and I offer a wide range of services including career coaching, career assessments, resume writing, and interview coaching.