10 Tips on How to Successfully Switch Careers If your career hasn't amounted to all you once thought it would be, it's not too late for a career switch. Here on some tips on how to switch careers - no matter your age or occupation.

by Sandy Bloom

You’ve spent your whole life working your way up the career ladder. You’ve gotten so far – yet maybe you feel unsatisfied, unhappy, or unchallenged. Your job just doesn’t give you the thrill that it used to. You’re bored and unmotivated, and you never look forward to going into work.

These may be signs you are ready for a career switch. As someone who is mid-career, it may be hard to admit that your job is just not what you hoped it would be when you started out years ago. What’s worse, you may feel trapped and think it is impossible to ever make a change for the better. If you have a family or many financial commitments, you may not want to risk making the decision to chase after a pipe dream and start from the bottom again. These are common concerns for people who are considering a career switch mid-to-late in life.

Follow these 10 simple tips to learn how to successfully, and responsibly, switch careers midlife and start to enjoy your day job:

  1. Forget your age. Employers don’t see a number, they see a person and they see the value and skills you can bring to the table. Remember that and stay confident.
     
  2. Evaluate your skill set. As a mid-career adult, you already have years of work experience under your belt. This experience means you already have mastered some, if not many, different skills that could be useful in a future career change. But not all the work you have done in the past has been enjoyable (exactly why you want to make the switch in the first place!), so you want to make sure your new career choices include the tasks you’ve enjoyed doing.

    According to the Career Consulting Corner, a simple way to get started evaluating which career to make the switch to is by taking a blank sheet of paper and drawing a large “T” on the paper. On the left side of the T, write down the tasks you have enjoyed doing during current or previous jobs and volunteer experiences. Then on the right side of the T, write down the tasks you did not enjoy. This will help you determine what type of tasks your new job should entail.

    Also, as important as it is to determine the skills you already have, you must ascertain the skills you will be capable of developing relatively easily by furthering your education or training through online certification and degree programs.
     
  3. Look into your financials. An important question to ask before making a career change is, “Am I willing to take a pay cut?” If so, how much? You’ve spent the past few years or decades climbing the career ladder and earning financial success. But when you are about to switch to your dream job, it may require exchanging pay for job satisfaction, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons.
     
  4. Consider More Schooling or Education. Sometimes, switching careers requires taking a class or two either to brush up on your current skills and knowledge or to gain more. It may also require earning an entirely new degree; if so, consider online degree programs, which allow you to continue working at your current office and simultaneously earn from home the education you need to stand out as you start on your new career.
     
  5. Determine which field interests you. Consider your personality and choose a career that is best suited to your strengths. If you are an outgoing, talkative person, you may be great at working and interacting with people all day. If you are quiet and shy, you may not want to choose a field that requires going up to strangers and making conversation.

    To get a better grasp on your personality type, you may want to reach out to a life coach or career counselor. These professionals will help you do a personality assessment and advise you on which direction to go.

    You can also take some time to volunteer or intern in the field(s) you are interested in, if your financials allow for it. This is the best way to really see what your future job entails.
     
  6. Figure out which career will utilize your skills and be the most enjoyable. Research the various careers that interest you and find out what these professionals do on a daily basis. To get ideas of all the careers out there, you can research classified ads, talk to your peers and mentors, and check out career books.
     
  7. Research your new career idea thoroughly. Network and talk to people who work in the field you are interested in and find out how they got started, the skills they needed to get started, and if there is any degree or training program that could help you obtain those skills. Attend networking or industry events to meet professionals and potential contacts.

    Read about the potential career opportunities in that field – are those positions in demand? Are they in demand in your local area or will you have to move? A good place to start to get this information is the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, which provides statistics on projected employment growth in various fields in its yearly Occupational Outlook Handbook.

    In addition, contact companies or small businesses that you would like to work for and ask for informational interviews to come in and see what they do on a daily basis. As a mid-career professional, it’s also important to ascertain whether you will have to start from the bottom and work your way up or if you can transfer the skills you already have into a mid-level position.
     
  8. Fix up your resume. When you switch careers, you should not use the same old resume you’ve been using for years in your current industry. Since you have taken the time to identify what is important to employers in your new field, you can play up those skills, instead.

    Additionally, make sure to have your resume reviewed by a professional and also by friends and family. The more eyes on your resume, the better.
     
  9. Stay focused and enthusiastic. Anything is possible – so keep up the positive energy. That vibe radiates during interviews. When an employer sees that you are making a career switch after careful thought and analysis and that you are following your dream, they’ll be more willing to take a chance on you.
     
  10. Be Persistent. A new job in an entirely new field may not happen overnight. It’s going to take time to choose the right career, assess your skills, talk to the right people, and get your resume in order. Be smart about it, hang in there, and keep at it!
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