Is It Too Late to Change Careers?
Every day, many people question “is it too late to change careers?” The answer is: it's never too late. According to Andrew Naber, an industrial-organizational psychologist and data scientist, the average person will spend one-third of their lifetime working, approximately 90,000 hours. That hefty portion of life should be enriching, yet for many, it’s a source of dissatisfaction.
Your career has a monumental impact on your well-being and being stuck on a path you don’t want to take can be detrimental to your mental health, often resulting in stress, depression and anxiety.
Of course, quitting your job and turning your whole life around on a whim isn’t always realistic (although some do manage it!). You’ll likely need to take a few steps back before you can move forward. We have some tips for anyone thinking about making a career change later in life, which include:
Ask for advice
Figure out finances
Ask for advice
First things first, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Move beyond your existing network and seek help from both people who have already pivoted careers, and people who work in a career path you’re interested in. Additionally, there are many specialist services to contact who can give you tailored advice based on your individual skill set.
What do you want out of this career change? A better salary? More flexibility? Greater passion and enjoyment from your role? Perhaps all three. Whatever your motives are, attempt to clearly outline them and make a plan to achieve them through long and short term goals. This could come in the form of a five year career development plan, or it might be something a little less fleshed out, like some simple bullet points. By writing down your objectives, it can help you understand and commit to them more easily.
Telling people about your goals is also a great exercise, especially if they’ll keep you in mind should future opportunities arise.
Figure out your finances
Changing careers can involve taking side steps or backward steps that may affect your income. With less experience, jobs may not be willing to match your previous salary. This is exacerbated if you decide to spend time obtaining qualifications. So, preparing yourself financially will help to insulate you from a large pay drop.
Approaching a career transition gradually allows you some time to prepare and save to avoid any nasty surprises on the journey.
Many people decide to re-enter education to prepare for a career change. Many of the skills you’ve picked up in your career will be transferable, but sometimes getting a degree or attending training programs is a necessity for new career paths.
Even if you don’t need a formal qualification for your new job – perhaps you’re just entering a new industry, for example – it will pay off to do as much research as possible. Podcasts, webinars, and development coaching are great ways to learn more about the industry. What you don’t have in experience, you can make up for in knowledge and enthusiasm.
Networking is a great place to gain insightful advice and guidance for new adventures such as changing careers, as well as getting your foot in the door for new opportunities. And, it works best when it’s mutually beneficial, so figure out how you might be able to help other individuals within your network.
This could include anything from giving advice in areas you’re already an expert in, volunteering, or even offering freelance/contract work, which will help you build a strong and impressive portfolio. Don’t forget to offer people your LinkedIn profile or business card so you can connect again in the future.
Social media, especially LinkedIn, is a great place to find like-minded professionals in your desired industry. Many are more than willing to impart wisdom personally. By engaging in the industry and keeping up with trends, you’ll be much better equipped to make the switch.
Making a career change late in life can be daunting and stepping outside of your comfort zone is never going to be easy. Remember that the best decisions in life will involve courage and a lot of proactive planning, but that shouldn’t stop you changing careers, no matter how late in life that may be.
If you’re still feeling nervous, take comfort in the fact that Harvard Business Review found that 82% of people who attempted a career change after age 45 were successful. They also 87% reported that they were happy they made the change, which proves it’s never too late to take a step in a new direction. Thinking about making the leap? We have expert coaches who can help make any change or transition smoother and more enjoyable.