Making a midlife career change won't be easy, but that doesn't mean it's not worth doing. If your current career is no longer fulfilling or doesn't enable you to spend time with your family, a career change could enable you to experience greater life satisfaction.
Planning For a Career Change: Nine Steps
Making career changes at midlife is very different than making career decisions in your 20s. You probably have more financial responsibilities like a mortgage and kids in college. You might be at the peak of your earning potential. You have more to lose, but you also have a lot to gain. Planning your next move starts with a little introspection. You should take some time to consider what your next career move should be.
1. Get Tested
Many career aptitude tests are available free online or you can take personality and career attribute tests at a local college or from a career or life counseling service. A test can't guarantee that you'll like a specific career, but it can tell you whether you have the aptitudes and personality traits of individuals who have been successful in the field.
2. Analyze Your Strengths
Take some time to analyze what strengths and skills you have developed over the course of your career. Many of these strengths will be transferable to your new career, and if you're keenly aware of your strengths, you'll be able to market yourself to potential employers with greater credibility.
3. Determine Your Needs
You don't want to make a career change without assessing whether your new career will meet your financial and personal needs. Before starting your career search, consider what type of lifestyle you want to have, the hours you would like to work and the minimum salary you will need to earn to maintain your standard of living.
4. Look Into Education and Training
After narrowing down the fields in which you would like to work, you'll need to determine whether your current background and education are sufficient for entering the new field. If not, you may want to consider going back to school to receive a second degree or certificate. In some cases, you may simply need to take seminars or training certifications within the field to position yourself as a viable candidate. Talk to someone who currently has a job within the field and ask whether there are any specialized trainings or certifications that most job candidates hold.
5. Consider All Your Options
If you're looking for a major lifestyle change, you may want to consider striking out on your own. You can do this in your current field, opening your own business or starting a consulting firm, or you can try something completely new and different. Websites like Career Profiles can help you understand the risks and rewards of this type of career change while also providing you with a wealth of knowledge on a number of different career options.
If you enjoy teaching others, there are a number of ways in which to utilize your skills as an instructor. You could teach within your current field at a local high school or college, if you have the appropriate credentials, or you could provide private instruction on a specialized skill to novices. Working as an online tutor may also be a possibility for you.
6. Create a New Resume
Having a well-thought-out resume is your key to making your next career step. You will need to summarize your strengths and experience on a resume in a way that really emphasizes how your experience is most relevant to your new career goals. If you need help, talk to a career counselor or a professional resume writer to get tips on writing a new resume.
7. Engage in Professional Networking
Once you have your resume ready to go, you need to tap into your network to help find the right opportunity. You've accumulated a lot of friends and coworkers over the past 20 or so years, and it's time to contact them, explain your new career goals and solicit their opinion and help. They may even know of job openings that would match your new goals to a T. Working your network will be the best way to get an "in" with the companies you're most interested in working for, so this is the perfect time to start attending local Chamber of Commerce meetings or joining a service club like Rotary or Kiwanis.
8. Set Up Informational Interviews
Keep in mind that getting an interview in a new field won't necessarily be easy, so you shouldn't wait for prospective employers to call you first. Consider setting up informational interviews with companies that you would like to work for or with individuals who are doing what you would like to do. This "informational" approach gives you the chance to lead the questioning, but don't be lulled into thinking that an "informational" interview requires any less attention on your part. You still need to be able to project your skills, needs and personality. At the end of the informational interview, don't be afraid to ask whether the company is hiring and if you can leave a resume with the individual you spoke with.
9. Using Career Change Resources
This is the time to soak up all the information you can about the process of career changing as well as information about the career into which you are considering changing, so do your research and make sure you're fully prepared for all the potential ups and downs involved in a career change. A few books that you may find to be helpful include:
- Resumes for Dummies
- Life's a Bitch and Then You Change Careers
- I Don't Know What I Want But I Know It's Not This
- Just Around the Corner: The Baby Boomer's Guide to a Career or Job Change
- Now What Do I Do?: The Woman's Guide to a New Career
Enjoy Success in Your Future Career
Making this type of life altering decision won't be easy. You will probably hit some roadblocks along the way, but if you're truly motivated to change careers, you won't likely regret the choice in the future.