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Navigating a Mid-Life Career Change

Have you ever considered a mid-life career change? If you have, this blog is for you! 

Navigating a Mid-Life Career Change

There are a lot of expectations surrounding how your career should fit into your life journey. This is especially true for women; even in an apparently progressive age, you’ll find there will still be a lot of outdated views. One of the more prevalent is the idea you should stick with your initial career choice. Or that your desire to change demonstrates some form of personal weakness. This is, of course, complete nonsense.

The fact you’ve reached mid-life and are considering something new is a testament to the idea a life well lived is filled with diverse experiences. Embarking upon a new journey is something to be celebrated. Still, there will be challenges along the way to your enriching new mid-life career. It’s worth taking the time to understand what these look like and how to navigate them.

Let’s run down a few key areas you should focus on.

Choosing a Path

The self-knowledge you’ve developed over the years can positively inform the direction of your career change. This also ensures your choices can be more personally rewarding. This is why it’s important to take some time to choose and plan the right path for you.

Some considerations here should include:

Your Values

Too often, the priorities of your employers will not quite mesh with your own. But making a change is a chance to have a career that matches and supports your personal values. Following a professional path in alignment with your social, ethical, and spiritual priorities will also tend to make for a more satisfying experience. Take the time to research industries, companies, and professional associations. Look at how they exhibit behavior that reflects your priorities. Research the mission statements of businesses’ websites and take note of media coverage. If a high moral standard is foremost in your needs, it can be worth exploring jobs you know are defined by their professional ethics, like journalism or medicine.

Your Balance

Perhaps the most important aspect of a new mid-life career path is understanding how it affects your quality of life. Do you want a career that enables you to follow your curiosity for the subject matter, like scientific research? It might be that you want a career to support your passion for travel. In which case, being a pilot or in hospitality management may be appealing. If you want to be able to work your activities around your family or social life, freelancing could offer flexibility. Formalize the aspects of a job you value most — the level of autonomy you want, the scheduling — and look into career paths to match these.

Gaining New Skills

One of the main considerations when exploring a new career path is the need to upskill. Learning a new set of abilities is usually a valuable, fascinating, and fun prospect. However, it’s just as important to know it can represent a commitment of time and finances. Look into the requirements for your target career and what options are available to you. You can then use this information to decide whether the positive outcomes are worth your investment.

If your chosen career requires a degree or certifications, you might find it difficult to attend a school full-time. After all, few people have the luxury of quitting their current source of income so they can go to college for a few years. However, more universities are offering part-time and online courses. Even science-based subjects can often be taken remotely. When these courses have practical elements, you can usually schedule a visit to the lab at a convenient time. This allows you to work your academic needs around your current commitments. As such, it’s worth talking to course providers and exploring your options so you can find a practical route into the skills you need.

That said, it’s important to remember an increasing number of careers are no longer reliant upon formal qualifications. Employers are recognizing the value of self-directed education or learning by doing. Coding is a good example here. Indeed, there is growing recognition that more women are needed in software development. You can get started by learning at home using video tutorials and software exploration. But there are also various organizations and academies geared toward providing classes, workshops, and boot camps to help you upskill in this area. Some of these will be free, but even for those that are not there are often scholarship schemes. Many of these are targeted at women and students from traditionally marginalized backgrounds.

Representing Yourself

Following training, there’ll come a time when you’ll need to make job applications. This is often a daunting process, especially with an awareness that age discrimination can still be a factor. Age shouldn’t be an issue, and overt discrimination here is illegal. But the reality is that people harbor conscious and unconscious biases. Part of the solution here is to effectively communicate your skills and your significant overall value to a company. Your application needs to highlight how your technical abilities, soft skills, and experiences make you the best possible candidate for the job.

Your resume is a vital element here. Companies will sometimes receive hundreds of applications. This is especially true of those accepting online applications. Your resume, therefore, needs to stand out over the crowd by leaning into an experience- and achievement-centric approach. Just listing your achievements in chronological order isn’t appropriate. You need to take time to frame the context of your successes in an attention-grabbing, engaging way. Link the positive outcome of a project directly to your influence on it. Make it clear how it benefited from your input. Give examples of which of your skills helped you overcome specific challenges. The aim here is to let potential employers see how you can be essential to the success of their business.

You Have So Much To Offer!

A new mid-life career is a chance to enrich your personal and professional experiences. This makes it important to consider what your career priorities are and plan an upskilling approach that works for you. Remember — you have so much to offer the world. As such, don’t just rely on your listed employment history during the application process. Put time into demonstrating your value and why the company needs someone of your caliber.

Have you ever considered a mid-life or later-life career change? Please share with us in the comments at the bottom of this page! 

Dan Matthews is a writer, content consultant, and conservationist. While Dan writes on a variety of topics, he loves to focus on the topics that look inward on mankind that help to make the surrounding world a better place to reside. When Dan isn’t working on new content, you can find him with a coffee cup in one hand and searching for new music in the other.

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