You Still Have Time! 6 Tips for a Mid-Life Career Change

Mental Health

Middle-aged office worker getting ready for a career change
Think you’re too old for a career change? Think again.

If you are around the halfway point of life, chances are you’re also midway through your career. Workers often question if they want to spend the next 20-odd years doing their current job. 

With all the time we spend at work, it’s important we’re happy with our career. You may be considering a career change for a range of reasons including:

●  You’re bored and disengaged

●  You want to try a new experience

●  The work is physically demanding

●  Your mental health is at risk 

Some dismiss the thought of switching careers because they feel they are too old and will stick it out until retirement. Others make the leap.

So if you are a Gen X (or older) and wondering if there’s a way you can break out of your current career and into a new one, the answer is yes!

#1 Do Your Sums

At this time in your life, you no doubt have financial responsibilities - possibly a mortgage, bills and children. It may be the most expensive time in your life. A career change may mean a reduction in income if you need to study, learn a new skill or start at the bottom of a new career.

Financial concerns stop many people from making a career change but if you save and reduce some expenses, it’s possible. Make sure you have enough funds to see you through any lean times or your partner has secure employment before making the leap. 

#2 Have a Plan

This isn’t a time to make rash decisions. Before you leave your current job, develop a plan so you know how you will turn your career change dreams into a reality.

If you need to do some study, find out as much information as you can on courses. Going back to study as a mature aged student can be daunting. But there’s no need to worry,  41% of Australian students are over the age of 25.

Even if you don’t need to undertake any study, there’s a chance you could improve your chances of making a career change by learning a new skill. There are plenty of online opportunities to learn new skills and gain experience while working in your old job.

You may need to update your resume and start looking for jobs.  

Put together a timeline and action small steps every week towards your career change. If not, the weeks will turn into months and your situation won’t change.

#3 Speak to a Professional

Some people know they want a career change but don’t know what that looks like. Preparing a plan is only possible if you know what it is you want to do.

Career Counsellor

A career counsellor can help you make the best decision for your career. They can help you easily transition into a new profession or help you search for the right job. There are jobs available today that didn’t exist when you started out your working life. Your ideal job may be one you haven’t heard of.

Transferable Skills

A career counsellor could help you identify skills that could be transferred to a new field or different industry. You may not have to do a lot of study or retraining if you consider the skills you already have.

If you find admin work boring, then you could use your high attention to detail and organisation skills in a career that requires these skills. Think about what you are good at and what you’re passionate about to help make the move.  

#4 Use your Contacts

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Chances are you know plenty of people.

Go through your LinkedIn account and see if you can meet with people who work in the industry you’re interested in. Speak to recruitment agents about what jobs are available and what you should do to secure one.

If networking hasn’t been high on your agenda in your working life, use your personal life. Look through your social media contacts and send messages to anyone who may help. Put out a message asking if anyone has friends or family members working in an industry of interest. People are more helpful than you may think and flattered that you want to hear about their career. 

Ask plenty of questions so you’re confident it’s the right move. You might even meet someone willing to mentor you in finding your new job or checking in with you during the early years of your new career. 

#5 Have an Open Mind

You might have 20-odd years of work under your belt but they may not count for much in a new field. Starting in a new career may require you to start at the bottom again and work your way up. Make sure you have the patience to do the hard yards.

As early as a few decades ago, it was considered a good thing that you would choose a career and stick with it. Even at the same organisation for your entire working life. But times have changed. Our workplaces and workforce have changed. Retirement is a long way away if you’re unhappy at work. Changing careers is a big decision.

#6 Be Prepared to Stay Where You Are - If It Feels Right

They say a rest is as good as a break. Sometimes it’s not a change of career that’s required; it’s just a change. Taking a holiday break, starting a new course, or just poking about looking for new work opportunities, can help to consolidate that you are in fact happy where you are. A rethink and a refresh are helpful for many of us if we have been in the same career, or role for many years. Taking the time out to look at where you are in life, the skills you have developed and where you want to spend your next chapter can be a really useful activity. It could lead to stepping up to new tasks or asking for a different role with the same employer rather than stepping away completely. 

Getting Help to Get Started

Changing careers is a big decision. If you need to speak with a qualified psychologist, contact PeopleSense by Altius on 1300 307 912 or (08) 9388 9000, or contact us online.

For additional reading take a look at an article prepared in discussion with Noble Oak 

Category: Mental Health