You can completely change your career - and your age won't matter

Published: 19 Aug 2016 By Georgina Bloomfield

When we initially leave school or carry on to university, we’re constantly being asked what we want to do with our lives. As we leave university and enter the wider world, we’re asked what our five-year plan is – then it’s what our ‘forever’ career plans are. Before we know it, we’re on a path to doing something we probably never intended to do in the first place, but it makes the money we need and we’re doing something that we may not be passionate about but we’re happy to do for the time being. Years pass and all of a sudden we never carried out those plans we initially wanted to do all those years ago. However, it’s easier to change careers later on in life than you may think. Here are a few pointers on how you can completely change your job role or career and your age won’t be taken into account.

How happy are you at the moment?

Before you panic and ultimately quit your currently consistent and stable job, you should think about how happy you are at the moment. Are you (for the most part) living a good life? Is your job impacting negatively on your life? If so, is it because of the nature of the work involved or the industry altogether?

Take your job out of the equation. Other than your job are you completely content with your life choices? Is there anything outside of your career that may need changing? If it’s simply a case of needing more money or you hate your working hours, try to make changes to your current job first.

Make changes where you are

It’s important to make changes where you currently are before making any life changing decisions which you may later regret. If you need to learn new skills to progress or even if you feel you work too many hours, get those cut down and sharpen up your skillset. Are there any internal vacancies going where you are at the moment? If so, perhaps try to apply to those so at least you stay in the same company and you’re not taking a huge risk.

Keep an open mind

If you’ve decided that there’s no way you can change anything about your current job to make you happier then it’s definitely time for a change. Changing careers is always a big step no matter how old you are, but if you’re in your forties and fifties it can be a more daunting task. Avoid the common mistake made by many which is to have a scattering approach to your job application process by applying to as many jobs which have a vague relevance to what you want. All you’re doing here is wasting your time and energy into a (what will be) fruitless job search which will only end up making you feel like you’re too old to apply anywhere.

Have an open mind when you look at future jobs. If you possess the skills required by the employer and you’ve got a wealth of relevant experience then go for it. However, if it’s a job that’s completely different to what you currently do then you’ll have to work harder to tailor your CV to that job position. You will have to strategise your job search more than ever. 

What do you want to avoid?

Think about what it is with your current role that you’re trying to escape. Is it the industry, the hours, or the work processes? Think about this carefully because you don’t want to panic and end up taking a similar job to what you’re already doing. Just because the job title is different doesn’t mean the responsibilities will be changing.

Take advantage of your network. Speak to as many people as possible about where they’re working and think about how you may fit into a similar role. Get in touch with old contacts and people who may have made a similar job change to you for advice. It’s never a bad idea to ask for help. Sometimes, it’ll be who you know rather than what you know.

Think halfway

If you want to completely and utterly change your career, it might be too much of a change to do at once – so you may have to take a job that covers a couple of elements from your current role mixed in with some completely new ones. This is a good idea for several reasons: Firstly you stand a better chance of getting the role with your existing experience and skills. Secondly it might be the right amount of change you need, at least for the time being. Wanting to totally overhaul your whole career path takes a lot of time, and unless you can start right from the bottom again this may be the best practical option for you.

Take your time but be quick

So, on the one hand you cannot rush the search for a totally new job because you could end up making too many mistakes and wasting your time. On the other hand you can’t hang around. The longer you leave it to change your career the harder it’ll be. If you’ve been looking passively for the past few months, it’s time to make a decision. You either need a new job and you should go for it or you shouldn’t. Good luck!

Have you had an experience in trying to find a new job but you’re worried that it’s too much of a change? We want to hear from you! Email etj.editor@theiet.org.  

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