Changing career is not easy for anyone, regardless of their age and background, but it definitely can be a big challenge at 40, in your midlife. Just like any big shift in our lives it is full of known and unknown hurdles, questions and victories. This post is not concerned with the motivation behind why people in their midlife often want to change career, but it will try to cover the most prominent issues that you have to face if you decide to do so.
So, you have done a lot of soul searching and you realized that you need, want and are ready for the risky step – midlife career change and you are about to embark on that journey. If you know what direction you want to take when it comes to the field of work and the exact type of work or job title, then you are already way ahead of many people who have it yet to discover. Still there are many other challenges:
Issue: You may not have the required experience
Unless your newly chosen career is related to what you have already been doing, it is very likely that you do not have the required experience to apply (and be considered as a serious candidate) for the job you want. Instead of just applying, getting rejected and feeling deeply disheartened after a series of rejection you need to build a strategy on how to transition towards your new goal job. When it comes to the experience factor you should try and see if any of the experience you already have can be used indirectly in your desired job. Volunteering, internships, practice in the field can be good options to get some experience.
Issue: You may be considered too old of a candidate
Unfortunately this type of discrimination does happen in job hunting and it does a lot of damage to both job seekers and employers. There is not much you can do about how old you are, and fighting this stereotype may be a futile endeavor. But, however discouraging it may seem, there are many benefits to hiring a middle aged worker and a lot of companies know it. Those who don’t know it – don’t deserve you. The bottom line is that instead of getting discouraged by this apparent weakness, you should just focus on all of the benefits that you, as an individual would bring along.
Issue: You may lack particular skill set or knowledge
Apart from the actual experience in the field, you may lack some key skill sets or knowledge for your desired career change in midlife. In order to avoid being rejected immediately, you should work on analyzing, understanding and obtaining the skills and knowledge required for that particular field or job. If your current career can support it, try introducing those aspects in your current work, actively seek involvement in tasks that will extend your skills in the right direction and get the needed training. With the abundance of online courses, you do not need to go back to school again – you can learn from the comfort of your home using any of the services such as Coursera, EdX, Alison and many others.
Issue: Your network is very weak in that area
One of the key benefits of networking is that it helps in job hunting. Of course, our current career plays a key role in who will be part of your network and most people that are there will be connected to what you have been doing so far. If the desired field for your midlife career change is diametrically different from your current job, you will find that you do not know many people who can help you out with advice, information or connections. That’s an opportunity to start going to networking events, following relevant topics on social media and participate in related forums. This way you will also meet new people, step out of your comfort zone and learn in advance what to expect in the new job.
Issue: You literally need to start from scratch and don’t know where to start from
If you have all of the above issues, it may seem too overwhelming and you don’t know where to start: whether to learn, gain some experience or start networking first. Each of those activities is difficult and takes time and lots of effort. The best thing to do in this case is to first look within and see what your true motivation for the change is. Whether it is the saturation with the industry you are in, the company you work for or any other factor, knowing what your strongest motivators are will also uncover working on what area will help you feel better. If you feel stuck and not learning much, then getting your hands on new skills will not only make you feel better, but also will help you initiate the transition.
What issues have you faced when changing the career? What have you learned from the experience? Our readers will love to hear more from you – please comment in the fields below.