Article by Hans Schumann
If you think it’s too late to change your career at your age, think again. Take Andrea Patterson from New England, who became a firefighter at 66, or Ress Fix, Los Angeles, who started her second career in television commercials at 80. Career change is possible at any age.
The experience you’ve gained in life has value, and it comes with a wealth of transferable skills. There are people out there who need what you have to offer! This is different from the value that younger people bring. There’s no need to compete with them.
For example, in professions such as coaching, therapy and consultancy, age is often an advantage. It gives you gravitas and credibility. You could also set up your own business where age doesn’t matter because you are your own boss.
If you’re considering a career change, here are my five top tips to get you started:
- Establish what matters most to you in life
I believe that a career change has the best chance of success if it allows you to pursue what’s most important to you in life. There are things that you feel naturally drawn to do; you’d probably do them even if you weren’t being paid. For me, this is coaching. For others it may be teaching, hosting events, leading teams, creating communities, building companies – or something completely different.
Consider also what exactly you want from your career in terms of your lifestyle, environment and opportunities. Is there any way to create those things in your current profession? Would a change of employer, location or position be sufficient, or does it really have to be a complete change?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be in a good position to plan your career move.
- Identify your skills
My clients often believe that their options are limited to their current profession, because they can’t see how many transferable skills they have. For example, a good waitress doesn’t just serve food. She has other essential skills such as teamwork, crisis management, customer service and complaints handling.
Write down a list of your transferable skills – they’ll come in handy if you apply for a job that’s different from what you’re currently doing. If you identify skill gaps, then explore how you can address them. Could you self-study, attend a course or maybe gain some practical work experience?
- Research your new career
A career move is a huge step. It’s important to find out as much as you can about the new career before you invest in it. The internet is a great resource for this, but even better is to speak to actual people who already work in the sector and industry that you’re interested in.
Who do you know who can tell you exactly what it would be like in that line of work and what employers are looking for in candidates? If you don’t have any suitable contacts, you could ask people on LinkedIn.
- Plan your transition wisely
Unless your wellbeing is at risk in your current job, I wouldn’t recommend leaving it without a proper plan. A career change can take time; you may even need to gain additional qualifications or work experience before employers will consider you.
One option is to study and gain work experience in your free time while still in your old job. You could also phase your transition by reducing your current job to part time while you find your feet in your new career or business.
- Get a mentor or coach
How about finding a mentor who is established in your chosen new career? He or she would meet with you regularly to share their experience and help you create a strategy for transitioning into your new profession. If you don’t know anybody suitable, try LinkedIn or search online for mentorship programmes for which you may qualify. You could also hire a career coach to support you with your transition.
There are many ways in which you can reinvigorate your career at any stage in your life. It may be a different employer, a different work location, a different role at work or an entirely different career; it may even be setting up your own business. You have plenty of choices. Look out for people who have done what you would love to do. Learn from them – and be truly open to the possibilities in your life.
Whatever your age, life’s too precious to waste it in a job you don’t enjoy.
Hans Schumann, The Masterful Living® Coach, is a career & life coach and author of the book Falling in Love with your Job – How to create more fulfilment and excitement in your career, which is available on Amazon. For more information go to www.hansschumann.com orwww.LoveYourJobBook.com.