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 […]
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.
Understand your “why”
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:
I want to be my own boss, so I can have more control over my career and the flexibility to work where and when I want to.
Since I was young, I’ve always had a passion for cooking and dreamed of opening my own restaurant.
My accounting job just isn't energizing me. In fact, it's sucking the life out of me. I want to transition to an HR career where I can have more personal interaction and improve the employee experience.
Change your mindset
Now it’s time to tackle that voice in your head that is saying things like:
What are people going to think
You’re too old to change careers
You’ll have to start at the bottom
You’ll have to take a drastic pay cut
It’s going to take you too long to acquire the skills you’ll need
You’ve invested too much time in your current career to pivot now
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.
Get clear on your goal and explore
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:
What are my natural talents?
Of those gifts, which am I most passionate about?
What specific group of people would I most love to help?
What problem do I want to solve for that group of people?
What kind of contribution do I want to make to the world?
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.
Exploring different careers can take other forms, including:
Attending networking events
Listening to podcasts and webinars
Volunteering, part-time jobs, shadowing and side hustles
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.
Fill in the gaps
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!
Article written by: Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family.
Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.