It is said that the only thing that is certain in life is change.
Though this phrase has proved to be true a number of times, there are situations where a change seems impossible and absurd. A change in profession at an age of forty or fifty is one of those situations where peers may pause and look at you quizzically with one question – why?
If you're over 40, you probably already recognize that making a career change when you are at a young age is much easier than when you're older. Typically, the older you are, the more invested you are in your current career. This means you potentially have much more to lose. Many mid-life career professionals remained in careers that were not fulfilling or engaging because they felt that their job was simply “satisfactory.”
If this sounds like a lot like you, don't let these fears influence you to stay in a job that isn't satisfying your long term financial objectives or interests. The risks of staying in such careers are often greater, compared to the cost of making a strategic career switch. That is, to one that is able to keep you engaged and provide the remuneration you desire.
How to start?
Making adequate preparation for the job-hunting
process is a good way to start. This means writing a substantial and attractive cover letter in addition to the all-important resume. As an older worker in the workforce, it's important to “shout” your experience as much as possible. List the important skills you've gained over the years and the various responsibilities you've held. Show that you are versatile, too. Moreover, you should also demonstrate how your past experiences has prepared you for the work you are seeking. Dig deeper in the career that you find interesting. Helpful guides for career research are readily available on the Internet and you should really make use of them.
Paint a clear mental picture
It is very important to paint a mental image of the ideal career you desire. Be very specific, right down to how close the job is to you, along with the amount of income you would like. You can even imagine your ideal office space, whether it is indoors or outdoors, or the kind of co-workers you would like to work with. Conceptualize and flesh out every tiny detail of a career that you can really love and respect.
Develop an action plan
Now that you have done your research, take time to put your plan together. Do you need more education, additional financial resources, a new resume or support from your family members during the interim period? Detail a plan of action and then follow it step by step. Don't flee from a stable job irrationally. If you really want to make viable career changes, be wise and smart in the decisions that you make. Exercising patience will very likely pay off by the end of your job hunt.
Taking classes to upgrade yourself can help you develop stronger skills and excel in a career switch even across industries. Take for instance academics-wise, going back to school to get a master's degree in education allows you to learn more about the expectations of a teacher and tips on tricky topics such as classroom management. More importantly, this grants you the ability to enter the education system at a higher level than with only a bachelor's degree. Therefore, you can further your horizons and need not start your pay at the entry level.
Leverage on your networks
A significant benefit you may entering the workforce over younger generation is that you just might have the right connections to assist you in finding and landing that next gig. When you are introduced to a potential employer through a mutual contact, you have gotten an implicit endorsement for someone whom your future boss trusts. So use your networks to connect with the people you need to reach.
Things have likely changed a lot since you last looked for a job, especially one in a new career field. While you may not agree with all the policies of the younger generation, do not be too stubborn or you will likely be left behind. Going along with change doesn't have to mean letting go of your moral or personal values.
There is no reason why you cannot change your career at mid-life
After 40, many people begin to look at life differently. They often begin to feel that life really is too short to be stuck in a dead-end or unsatisfying job. At mid life, there's no reason you can't change your career and find a job that better fits you. It doesn't happen overnight, so take your time. Assess your skills and interests as well as your financial requirements to determine which new career path is right for you.
This article originally appeared here.