What You Need to Do to Make a Midlife Career Change

By Deborah Mitchell | Small Business

It happens more often than you think. New management cancels a position, a company goes bankrupt or you have an epiphany on the bus home one night, and all of a sudden, you know it’s time for you to switch careers.

When that happens, usually in your late 30s or early 40s, reinventing yourself may seem like an impossible task. But with a little preparation and a lot of determination, you can take on change with a clarity that will lead you right into your next dream job.

Take time to regroup. 

Whether it’s a week without your cell phone or a month at your parents’ country house, it is important to take the time to say goodbye to your old career. If you were terminated from your position, you may need to lick your wounds and rebuild your ego, and that’s important so you can move forward with a clear mind. Even if the decision was your own, it’s always better to make sure that your next steps are built on a plan, not adrenalin.

Related: 9 Reasons to Quit Your Job As Soon As You Can

Shifting from daydreaming to blueprint mode might take a while, but you will find strength in organization. Put your finances in order so you can sustain the blow of a reduced income.

Do you qualify for unemployment? Can you live off your savings? Can you take a part-time job while you’re getting ready for your second act? There are always many avenues to take, as long as you don’t see problems as obstacles and keep your eyes on the goal. 

Assess your skills. 

Regardless of the industry you’re aiming for, your previous experience always matters. All skills are transferable, and while you may not need them for a specific position, they’re important to state on your resume.

It is true that markets are all about niches these days, but workers on the other hand are expected to multitask and save corporate monies by being able to get as much work as possible themselves. And you’re not just applying for a position, you also have to think about the step after that, so your skills have to fit in all the ways.

It is even more important if you’re an entrepreneur since your starting budget might be limited and you will need to establish for the get go what you can do by yourself and what you need to pay for.

Invest in education. 

Before investing in new clothes for job interviews or a great desk for your living room, put your money where it matters. Adding education, and perhaps even a hands-on, practical internship, can go a long way. Night schools are a great option, but at this point you’re not necessarily looking for degrees, unless you’re aiming for a job that requires certification.

Related: Stop Hating Your Job Long Enough to Think Through a Solid Escape Plan

The Internet can save your life more often than not! Trade your Pinterest-pinning and retweeting habits for watching instructional videos on YouTube and educational sites such as Lynda.com. Divide your learning needs into what you can get for free and what you have to pay for, not between what you need to master and what you don’t really have to know.

Take into consideration that you’re competing with a younger, less experienced, but much more knowledgeable generation, so if you want to make yourself valuable in a new field, there isn’t anything that you don’t need to know. 

Gather your success team. 

BFFs with ice-cream buckets are great and they definitely belong on your team. But broaden your horizons outside your Facebook friends, and start seriously building your LinkedIn account. Who you know is not just about who can get your hired. Look for hidden market mavericks on your contact list, those who are willing to Skype with you for an advice-rich chat.

Do you know someone else who made the switch you’re aiming for? They might be willing to show you the ropes, you just have to ask.

If you show how committed you are to change, your enthusiasm will remind people of their own passion, and you will be surprised at how many business connections will be willing to turn into mentors.  

Whether it’s new management or a need for change that is forcing you out of your job and into a new line of work, making a career switch has the potential to revive your professional passion. Decide early on if you’re looking for more balance or more action, look at what you have and what you need to acquire, and start networking. 

Related: Move On or Keep With the Devil You Know? Balancing Change and Stability.

Subscribe to our mailing list
* indicates required
Small Business Services