Millennials might favor job hopping, but it’s also something that can cross the minds of those decades into their career. For some, the decision for a career change might be a matter of reclaiming a sense of purpose and happiness. For others, it might be a matter of pursuing a lifelong dream. Whatever the motivation, switching gears mid-way into a career is a reality for many people. In fact, according to a 2018 survey by hiring firm Robert Half, 59 percent of workers ages 35 to 54 and 51 percent of those 55 and older believe that job hopping is beneficial.
Moreover, making a career change at 40 or beyond can sometimes be easier than you think. According to an American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) Older Worker Survey, 82 percent of adults 47 and older who had “attempted a career change after the age of 45” were “ultimately successful.”
Here are a few tips you should consider if you’re thinking about a midlife career change.
Make Sure Your Motivation Carries Weight
You might have a romantic idea of changing careers — the promise of a new work environment, or perhaps a bigger paycheck. But it’s important to have realistic expectations and understand the time and effort it will take to learn a new industry. Consider the amount of research and training that you might have to commit to. Do a thorough self-examination to pinpoint the driving forces behind your desire to change careers. Identify those key reasons and makes sure they carry value and can be explained to an employer if need be.
“No employer wants to hear that you want a new role because you hate your old one,” career expert and author of Knockout Interview, John Lees, told The Guardian.
Don’t Be Afraid to Go Back to School
If it turns out that your skills aren’t transferable in your new job pursuit, don’t be hesitant to return to the classroom to get some additional training.
“There is a stigma, particularly among older people, that they are past the point of schooling, but older students are often the best students because they know what they want and take school seriously,” Saeid Fard, president of the career site CareerExplorer, told GOBankingRates. “There are also plenty of mini-programs designed to train people as quickly as possible, as well as plenty of government financial support programs in important careers like cybersecurity. ”
Consider the Financial Consequences, If Any
Can you afford a career change? Will it affect your ability to provide for yourself — and your family? These are all valid questions to think about before embarking on a new career path.
Now, that doesn’t mean your happiness should take a back seat for the sake of having a stable paycheck. In fact, your level of happiness at your job will often impact your productivity. For example, one study reported by Forbes found that happy workers are 20 percent more productive than those that are not happy with their jobs. But it is important to understand the financial implications that can come with leaving an established career.
Make Use of Your Network
Whether you have officially decided to change careers or not, make use of your network. It’s a good idea to talk to someone in the industry you want and gather information about what you’re truly in for.
“Once you have found some careers you could be interested in, talk to people in that career,” said Fard. “You’d be surprised how often even a cold email works if it comes from a genuine place of curiosity.”
Another way to get an inside scoop on your potential new career is to conduct informational interviews. In a piece for employment website Monster, writer Daniel Bortz said that conducting informational interviews is a great way to gain insight about the career you want.
“One of the best ways to expand your circle is to go on informational interviews with people who currently work in the field you’re pursuing,” Bortz wrote. “During these meetings, be sure to ask meaningful questions (e.g., ‘Where do you see the industry going?’ or ‘Which professional associations or trade publications do you recommend?’).”
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