Career exploration isn’t just for twenty-somethings. According to an Indeed survey, the average age of career changers is 39. Often, professionals want to make a mid-career change but don't know how to go about it. As a result, the job search process can seem daunting—especially if you've been at the same company for 10 years or more. At that point, you might feel like your job-hunting skills are rusty and that your entire network consists of the people you work with. Then by the time you start thinking about resume updates, cover letters and job interviews, your head feels like it’s going to explode.
Here’s some good news—transitioning to a new career or industry doesn't mean you will need to begin from scratch. On the contrary, your experience and transferrable skills can help open doors to positions you never dreamed of. One reason is that soft skills are more in demand than ever. That means the strengths you've developed in leadership, problem-solving, and teamwork will give you a competitive edge so you can land the job you really want.
If you’ve been thinking about a mid-career change for a while, don’t wait. Here are five valuable tips to get you on the path to self-discovery and fulfillment.
The first step in your career change journey is understanding your "why." In other words, why do you want to change careers? If the answer is that you hate your boss, your work culture is toxic, or you’re feeling burned out, then you probably want to reconsider. Make sure you are running towards something instead of running away from something. In that case, your “why” might look something like this:
These are all excuses that are based on fear. If you really want to commit to a mid-career change, you will have to get comfortable facing fear head-on. Acknowledge it, but don't let it keep you from attaining your ultimate goal.
Now that you've identified your "why" and faced your fears, it's time to pinpoint the end goal. This step will require both introspection and career exploration. From an internal perspective, ask yourself questions like:
Then think about roles you would like to pursue and start reaching out to people in those industries. Find out firsthand what the day-to-day job looks like and what skills, experience and education are required.
This phase is critical because the last thing you want is to jump into a new career and then realize it's not what you thought it was.
Once you know your skills and what is required, start filling in the gaps. That could mean returning to school, taking an online course, or getting a certification. Keep in mind that you can do all this while still employed at your current job by taking classes targeting working professionals. In addition, take advantage of free resources like blogs, podcasts, videos and other online assets. Depending on the profession, you might even find a company willing to train you to do the job.
At this stage, you’re ready to update your resume and hone your interview skills. You might want to lean on all the free resources offered on the Internet or even consider hiring a career coach. Are there new skills you need to develop, like creating live videos or speaking in front of a large group of people? The best way to get good at anything is to practice, practice, practice. Find people who excel at that particular skill and emulate them. Remember, the more you do it, the easier it gets.
The thought of a mid-career change can be exciting and scary all at the same time. Is it worth it? According to Indeed's survey, the overwhelming response is yes, with 88% of career changers saying they are happier since making their move. Don’t let inertia keep you stuck in a job you hate. We all have gifts that deserve to be shared with the world, and yours are no exception!