After investing years in a career, one day, you might wake up and realize that you don’t want to continue on the same path anymore. Or you might get a taste of another professional life and develop a liking for it. Or you may be thinking you can put your skills to better use in another domain.
There are many reasons why someone 45+ years into their life would want to switch careers, which is completely fine, as long as they have the desire and determination to go through the change.
John Jayzlo, a partner at Leadership Capital Group, recently held a webinar on Transitioning to a new career focusing on professionals that fall in the 45-60 age group. John calls it one of the hardest decisions to make and execute in one’s professional life, and rightly so. This article covers John’s thoughts and tips to make the transition smoother and well-executed.
More than 1.5 million career seekers between the age of 45-60 make a career change per year, and that should be enough to motivate you to take a step further if you’re on the verge of making a decision. An encouraging 82% of people in this age group were successful in their career change.
The time is never and always right, simultaneously!
You might be waiting for the perfect moment to make the switch, but what if it never comes? We need to make a moment perfect for big tasks to accomplish.
Here are some tips that might accompany you in your decision:
Build a support system ahead of time.
While we’re adapting to the new normal, powerful networking has become more crucial than ever before. Whether you are working a job or thinking of changing it, ensure that you’ve connected yourself with the right people who might be able to offer you the right advice or resources, thereby making things easier.
Be prepared to tighten the belt and lean on a working spouse.
As career shifts are difficult decisions, they can disturb your financial cycle if you’re not prepared. Make sure you have a financial back-up plan.
From where ‘I am right now’ to where ‘I want to be.’
A study revealed that 49% of C-level executives seeking a career change were nervous before committing to the shift, which is understandable. Thinking things over is a natural reaction to change, but after you have stepped into the process of shifting, do not waste time. Judging by your current skill set, you can estimate the time it will take for you to find and adjust to the new environment.
Research shows that people took 11 months to achieve what they define as a successful career change. And people who weren’t as successful took double the time. This disparity resulted from the difference in skillset, as the ones who took more time invested in developing professional, soft, and hard skills through training and courses.
When making the career leap, evaluate the skills you have on your side.
Statistically, successful people used seven skills, and the unsuccessful ones used only two to get through a career change.
On that note, here are the top 5 skills to consider when talking about success in career transition:
- Interpersonal and public communication
- Thought leadership
- Technology comprehension
Whether you’re changing your job in the same field, going to a new industry, or making a total pivot, these skills, among many others, can be utilized to understand what your company/an industry needs and how you can help it grow.
Update your resume and be consistent.
Nobody likes lengthy resumes, so keep it short and crisp (under two pages) and strictly focused on the last 10-15 years’ achievements.
Familiarize yourself with informational interviews.
Research your target company/industry, choose the right words and facts for your answers, and prepare questions you might have for the interview panel. Don’t forget to update yourself on the professional trends concerning them!
Avoid conventional wisdom.
Maintaining a precise focus is significant to ensuring that your expression of career plans is succinct yet articulate in your networking circles such as career sites and even in interpersonal communication. It is key to introducing yourself to the new environment and proving your worth as a credible individual. Other marketing platforms you could exploit in your favor are social media channels.
One of the pros of making a career change is that you already have prior experience in your hands, which, when smartly analyzed, can help you bring perspective to the new job. Your previous work experience may or may not link to what you will be doing in the future, but it can certainly help you bring new ideas to the table in your new career. So don’t shy away from using this opportunity to promote your strengths!
Reaching out to a career coach or mentor.
We all need a little advice, and it’s invaluable when coming from a professional who can conduct an in-depth evaluation of your skills, accomplishments, ambition, and knowledge according to a ‘real-world’ career search strategy. Not only can they guide you through the process of negotiating a new deal, but also counsel you on what will come after you seal the deal.
A few misconceptions people hold related to career; John cleared them up for you in the webinar. Here are some key takeaways:
- Qualifications will guarantee an interview: No matter how strong your resume is, you cannot go further without interpersonal skills.
- Potential targeted companies need to know everything about you: No, they don’t want your biography. They only need to see what’s relevant to their field of interest, so don’t overwhelm them with too much unnecessary information.
- No network because I don’t need favors: Networking isn’t asking people for favors; it is staying in touch with the right people who can direct you through your career and assist you with things when needed.
- I’m the right person for the job, so my age doesn’t matter: It very much does!
- Avoid being a jack of all trades: Even if you have a few skills, be excellent at them.
- Repackage your experience: Keep learning new things with time and try to add fresh perspectives to what you’ve achieved so far.
- Rethink how to build your network: As John mentioned multiple times, try connecting with the right people as you move forward, it’ll only help you in the long run.
- Challenge yourself throughout your transition: Keep pushing your limits and move out of your comfort zone; who knows, you might evolve from a master of a single trade to a master of many businesses.
Depending on the direction you take, this decision can transform your life for the better or the opposite. Career transition also impacts one’s personal life, so don’t forget to choose what you are passionate about, involve your family in these affairs, and make decisions wisely.