In this Career Change blog post 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. 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: You think it’s too late.
At 50 (or over), you might actually feel closer to retirement than the beginning of a career. It’s definitely true to an extent – you’ve likely had 20 to 30 years of work experience depending on when you started your career! Although this might seem discouraging, keep in mind that this makes this the perfect time to make your career change happen.
Depending on when you plan to retire, you still have a lot of your working life ahead of you. Some people plan to retire at 65, but others may choose to continue working past retirement age. Others still plan to work part-time after they retire to continue to pursue work interests and/or financial goals. Whatever you choose, the fact is that if you’re 50 now and you retire at 65, that’s 15 more years of work ahead of you – and it’s worth changing careers if you want to do something else.
The fact that you will be retiring in the next 15-20 years also makes this the BEST time to do it. Maybe there’s something you’ve always dreamed of doing – now is the time to give it a shot.
Of course, you’ll need to examine your financial, personal, and family circumstances to determine how a change might impact you – but you may have some savings in order to make your career change a priority.
Challenge #2: Getting Up to Speed
If you haven’t job hunted in a long time, you’ll probably quickly come to realize that the job search process has changed quite drastically over time. A few things to note:
- Resumes: It’s critical to know that resumes today need to be extremely targeted for roles. It’s no longer enough to simply include all of your experience and for the Recruiter/Hiring Manager to “understand” that you can do the job. Applicant Tracking Systems scan resumes for keywords and relevant content, and rank them accordingly. It’s important to learn as much as you can about this process so you can create a highly relevant resume.
- Networking & LinkedIn: Networking is a key part of the job search process, and online networking through LinkedIn has become a critical piece of the puzzle. LinkedIn allows you to create a profile, network with connections, and even apply for jobs online. If you don’t have a profile, this is a great time to create one and to start learning about the platform.
- Interviews: It’s become more important than ever to excel in an interview. This is critically important if you’re changing careers because you’ll need to communicate why you’re the right fit for the role.
Putting together all of the above and learning how to promote your own personal brand can take some time and effort, but it will set you off to a great start in terms of your career transition.
Challenge #3: Ageism
Although ageism is technically illegal, and shouldn’t exist – unfortunately it can be a reality. Starting a new career at 50 (and beyond) isn’t easy, and you may face some barriers related to ageism throughout the recruitment and interview process.
The problem with ageism is that it leads potential employers to make assumptions about you and your skillset. For example, they may assume you’re not very tech-savvy or that you’re going to retire soon. They may also worry that you’re set in your ways and not “trainable.” (especially if you worked for your most recent company for a long period of time). They could also have salary concerns and assume that they won’t be able to “afford” you. These types of assumptions can make employers reluctant to hire (or even interview) you.
I recommend trying to address these concerns upfront in either your resume or the interview.
So for example, if you think you may not be considered “tech-savvy” enough for the role, why don’t you highlight all of your technical skills in your resume? Describe a couple of projects you worked on recently that involved working with a specific software, for example. List all of the software you’ve used and that you’re familiar with.
What if they think you’re too set in your ways? Why not include examples of team projects or change management projects where you had to adapt to new processes and technology? This will show that you’re adaptable and flexible – and that you won’t have a problem fitting into their organization.
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.