Advertising
Advertising

How to Get a Job When You’re Changing Careers After 40

How to Get a Job When You’re Changing Careers After 40

If you are changing careers after age 40, you should know something about the late Dr. Paul Burgett, the beloved former vice president and provost of my alma mater, the University of Rochester. During a visit to the university in 2016, he shared,

“You are only limited by your imagination.”

In other words, if you can imagine it, you can have it. Far from an empty platitude, Burgett shared this wisdom as he pondered his career that began in his twenties and spanned more than 50 years.

Notably, Burgett enjoyed a 54-year career at the University of Rochester. He arrived at a time when Blacks were not accepted at most institutions of higher learning, yet he went on to earn three degrees from the university’s Eastman School of Music. Burgett later became a dean of students at Eastman, a dean for the university, a provost, vice president and adviser to four University of Rochester presidents.

While these titles are admirable, historians will record Burgett’s greatest accomplishment as becoming an icon emblazoned in the psyches of tens of thousands of university alumni and Rochester community members. By all intents and purposes, Burgett knew something about imagination. He also knew something about defying expectations.

If you are reading this article, you are likely considering a job change after considerable time in a specific industry. Experience brings comfort, and if you are upending a pattern, you are likely facing discomfort and uncertainty. However, as you focus on your next chapter, I hope you will also hone your ability to imagine.

If you believe your age is a barrier and you focus your energy on that versus the wonderful skills you have accumulated over your vibrant career, you will stifle your imagination. To unleash your imagination about the future, here’s how to get a job after 40:

1. Ask for Help

There is something in our culture that leaves many of us reluctant or unwilling to ask for help. As Lifehack Founder and CEO Leon Ho put it,

Advertising

“Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.”

In fact, most people are rather generous in their willingness to offer guidance and coaching. If you are in the job market at any stage in your career, but especially after 40, ask for help:

Afraid to Ask for Help? Change Your Outlook to Aim High!

Ask for help from friends and colleagues who have made a career change after 40. Ask for help from millennials to get a sense of the technology they are using and find most helpful.

Ask millennials for their perspective on the most and least helpful qualities about colleagues who are north of 40 so you can be mindful of what to and what not to do. Reach out to hiring managers and request informational coffees.

These are low-stakes meetings that will give you insight on how you could approach interviewing and launching a new career.

Finally, consult a career coach to learn everything from how to craft a resume to how to identify technical mentors to how to enter a new field. If you ask for help, you are bound to get it.

2. Identify Transferrable Skills

My day job is in public relations and strategic communications, but before I became an author of a public relations book, I was once a recruiter for the software development company MindLeaders.

Advertising

My experience recruiting has helped me as a hiring manager. Many of the skills I learned as a recruiter – clear communication, tips to narrow the applicant pool, the ability to sell a company or a position, etc. – are transferrable.

If you are changing jobs, think about the underlying skills that could be helpful in a variety of settings. I will admit that it is often easier to point out someone else’s transferable skills than to recognize your own skills that may serve multiple industries.

If you are struggling to identify your strengths, ask family members, friends and colleagues what they see as your transferable skills.

3. Focus on Your Transferrable Skills

When you are making a career change, getting an interview is only part of the equation. Once you land the interview, you obviously must make a positive impression and stand out from other candidates. To do this, focus less on what you can’t do and more on what you can do by being laser-focused on transferrable skills.

When I was interviewing with the software development company, I knew very little about software. My answer to every question was some variation of “I have never done that specifically, but I would love to learn” or “I did something similar when I worked as a ….” I left the interview confident that I would not only be passed over for the position but that I wasted both mine and the interviewer’s time.

To my surprise, the company called me a few days later and offered me the position. Sure, I had a learning curve, but I also was committed to learning and applying transferable skills. That experience remains a standout in terms of memorable interviews.

4. Seek out Coaches in the Industry You Wish to Enter

It is impossible to know what you do not know. To ensure you are learning and meeting metrics that make you a valuable contributor, consider getting a technical coach who is well-versed in the industry you wish to enter.

The coach can serve as a connector to other people who can assist you, and the coach can also support your understanding of the technical aspects of your role.

Advertising

5. Download Podcasts, Articles and Videos on the Industry of Interest

In our digital age, there is a host of information available to support learning. As you think about breaking into a new industry, carefully research the industry.

You can do this by downloading and listening to podcasts on the industry, reading industry-specific articles and reports, and watching industry-related videos. This will allow you to know what’s happening in the industry. It will also help you have informed conversations with hiring managers, coaches and other people connected with the field you wish to enter.

6. Brush up on Technology

If you are contemplating a job switch after age 40, meet with people in the industry you wish to enter, and ask them specifically what technology they rely on to do their job. You will also want to determine which social media platforms they find useful for their work and for staying up to speed on their industry.

Research indicates that millennials tend to use Instagram and Snapchat to a higher degree than Generation X, but both millennials and Generation Xers are similar in terms of their Facebook usage. Generation Xers also tend to use LinkedIn and Twitter to a higher degree than millennials. Baby Boomers tend to use social media to a lesser degree that younger generations, and the Pew Research Center has data that suggest their technology adoption is increasing rapidly.

I am sharing this information because social media is more than personal preference; if you are entering a company whose target audience is millennials, you will need to be versed in the best platforms and technologies to reach this demographic.

Also, research the communications platforms (such as Slack or EverNote) people in your desired industry are using to stay in relationship with one another. This will signal to hiring managers that you are proactive. It also suggests that age will not be an impediment to you adopting technology.

7. Volunteer

One of the best ways to gain information about a new industry is to volunteer in that arena. Volunteering is a win-win as volunteers gain insight and employers receive additional help.

If you are unable to work full time without pay, look for opportunities that allow you to contribute a few hours each week. This ensures you are able to continue working full time and volunteering without a major schedule disruption.

Advertising

8. Refrain from Discussing Your Age, or Discussing Your Age as a Liability

When interviewing, be careful not to volunteer your age. Your age has absolutely no bearing on your ability to perform well, especially if you do your research and thoroughly understand and adopt in-demand skills for the position you are applying.

Since your age holds little weight, think twice about freely disclosing it. If you do talk about your age, be careful not to be too self-deprecating or in any way suggest that you are anything less than proud of the experience your age has afforded you. You do not want to involuntarily give hiring managers reason for pause.

9. Inquire about Benefits and Vesting Schedule

If you are changing careers after 40, you will need to pay careful attention to not only the employee benefits package, but also the vesting schedule.

Since retirement and estate planning is likely top of mind, you will want to learn as much as you can about how the company will support your financial and benefits needs. This is also the place where you can apply the negotiating skills you have acquired over your career.

Just because a benefit is not voluntarily included does not mean you should not acquire about it. For instance, I always negotiate more than the standard vacation package. Even if an employer offers new hires two weeks for the first year, I almost always ask for more and I use my years of experience as a negotiating tool.

Final Thoughts

In the end, the weight of Burgett’s words still speak volumes. The people who defy expectations, are the people who have courage and insight to imagine that great things are possible. They also have the fortitude to implement a plan to reach their goals.

So as you contemplate your next move, adopt the tips outlined in this article, and be sure to pass on what you are learning to others you meet along the way.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

More by this author

Jennifer R. Farmer

An author and trainer specializes in helping socially-conscious entrepreneurs, celebrities and activists

16 Good Habits of Happy and Successful People 10 Conflict Resolution Skills Every Manager Needs 5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You) 10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively How to Improve Assertive Communication Skills for Better Relationships

Trending in Smartcut

1 How to Set Realistic Short Term Goals for a Successful Life 2 How to Start Setting Strategic Goals for a Successful Life 3 Why Is Behavior Change So Hard? Science Explains It 4 6 Ways to Finish Strong (When Your Momentum Is Low) 5 11 Reasons Why We Fail to Achieve Our Goals

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 17, 2020

How to Set Realistic Short Term Goals for a Successful Life

How to Set Realistic Short Term Goals for a Successful Life

Change begins with the hope of what’s possible in your life, as hope leads to a sense of expectancy. Combine this with setting short-term goals, and the likelihood of being happier and more successful moves from possibility to reality.

Short-term goals, when created with well-formed criteria, offer incremental steps towards successfully achieving your bigger goals.

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll discover the secret to creating short-term goals that will set you up for success and help you sail past challenges of staying motivated easily.

What Is a Short-Term Goal?

Short-term goals are “short,” meaning the time frame can be as short as 10 minutes or a day, or as long as a week or even 12 months. Well-formed short-term goals begin with the end in mind and can be further connected to long-term goals.Quick tip:

Write down the specific result you want to achieve and the date when it should happen. Then, work backward from this date, describing what you’ll notice yourself doing (and achieving) until you take the first step.

A short-term goal is the smallest step you need to reach a bigger goal centered around achieving something you passionately desire.

Passionate desire” is the key.

As Tony Robbins says,

People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals – that is, goals that do not inspire them.[1]

Having passion when setting goals means getting your mind and body activated to fuel your energy and focus. Each time you achieve a short-term goal, your body celebrates by producing and releasing chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins (feel-good neurotransmitters).

Ian Robertson, a cognitive neuroscientist and author of The Winner Effect: The Neuroscience of Success and Failure, says,

Success and failure shape us more powerfully than genetics and drugs.

The regular release of the body’s natural chemicals supports brain change at a neural level, building your confidence, and renewing your goal-oriented focus.

Here are some short term goal examples to give you an idea of where to start[2]:

Advertising

short term goals examples short term career goals list of short term goals examples short term and long term goals examples list of short term career goals short term objectives

    The Benefits of Setting Short-Term Goals

    Regardless of the area in your life where you set your short-term personal goals, it will have a ripple effect across every area of your life. Here are just some of the benefits of good goals:

    • Improve your career prospects and your sense of identity.
    • Improve your energy in a way that’s noticeable at work and home.
    • Improve your mindset and your attitude around how you engage with others.
    • Improve your health and your desire for self-improvement.

    6 Steps to Success With Short-Term Goals

    Setting short-term goals will lead you closer to a happier and more successful life, but can you achieve that?

    Complete the following steps, and you will start achieving your dreams:

    Step 1: Know Your Best Hopes

    Try this process yourself by thinking of an area in your life that you’d like to improve.

    For example, what are your best hopes for your finances/relationship/career/health?

    This process involves “chunking up” your ideas to imagine the results more clearly. In this process, you try to achieve not only the goal and the outcome it gives you, but also the changes in your behavior and mindset as a result of achieving your goal.

    Step 2: Notice What’s Different

    The next question to ask yourself is: “What would you notice that was different from the way you usually did things?”

    Noticing helps you build a vision of what could be possible. The richer the description you can build around the tiny details, the more real your preferred future becomes.

    To complete this step, you may want to utilize some visualization techniques.

    Step 3: “What Else?”

    Most of us know there’s a hidden reason or a long-buried hope beneath why we want something.

    Often, our ego gets a little defensive and protective of it, but if we dig and resurface the truth, then a weight can be lifted, allowing you the freedom to move forward.

    Step 4: “Who Will Notice the Difference?”

    Relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and your partner are important. By imagining the change they’ll notice, you can add another perspective to your vision.

    Imagine what they will notice about you that would let them know something changed about you as a result of achieving this goal.

    Step 5: Imagine a Miracle Happened Tonight

    Imagine that if you went to bed tonight and a miracle happened, and you were the very best version of yourself and that you had achieved your best hopes.

    When you woke up tomorrow morning after the miracle happened, what would you notice that would tell you you’ve achieved the change you’re seeking?

    Advertising

    Step 6: Describe Your Day as If the Miracle Had Happened

    Go through your day, beginning with what time you would wake up, and then describe the differences you would notice in every tiny action you do.

    Notice in detail what’s different about this day, a day when you are at your very best because you’re living your best hopes.

    How to Track Your Short-Term Goals

    When you set a short-term goal, establish a measurement system to track your progress:[3]

    1. Create a Running Tally

    One of the best devices to keep your short-term goal setting on track is to keep a running record or tally of the number of days in a row that you’ve sustained your goal.

    For example, if improving your health is important to you and you plan to reduce your weight by 5 pounds by not eating any foods containing sugar, then set up a simple chart and track how many days in a row you can do this. Aim for 5 days, then 10, then 20 days in a row. If you have a small diversion and eat sugar one day, simply start again.

    Once you feel confident that you can continue with this step, add another, such as taking 5,000 steps per day. Again, set up a simple tally chart, either in your diary or somewhere visible and enjoy marking up one more day that you’ve achieved your short-term goal.

    2. Keep a Journal

    Maintaining a journal will help you focus on identifying the things that are different because you’ve set a well-formed, short-term goal.

    Aim to complete the journal at the end of each day and recall in detail the things that you’re noticing. This helps keep you connected with your desired outcome and the transformation you’re experiencing in both your behavior and mindset.

    Take a look at this guide if you’re starting out journaling: Writing Journal for a Better and More Productive Self (The How-To Guide).

    3. Share Your Progress With a Trusted Friend or Coach

    By voicing the change and expressing how far you’re noticing yourself moving towards your goal, you’re reinforcing the power of change you’re experiencing.

    You’ll also be activating the feel-good neurotransmitters that are so important for bringing the confidence, motivation, and positive changes you need to succeed.

    Here’re more reasons why you should get yourself a life coach: 7 Reasons Why You Should Find a Life Coach to Reach Your Full Potential.

    4. Visualize Your Progress

    Before you go to sleep in the evening, visualize your tomorrow. See yourself continuing to do the things that support your change.

    Walk yourself through the tiny details that add up to the changes you want to see yourself doing, including the time you’ll wake up. In the morning, re-activate the visualization and then step into your day.

    Short-Term Goal Example: Your Career

    How can you advance your career with short-term career goals?

    Advertising

    Start by Planning Your Career Visually

    Walt Disney was sacked for lacking imagination. Oprah Winfrey was told she’d never make it on television. Careers are destroyed by naysayers intent on keeping you small. The successful person designs a career goal and then creates incremental steps to ladder up with short-term goals.

    Justin Dry from VinoMofo, a successful Australian wine distribution company, always begins his goal-setting process with visual planning. He says,

    I need to see it all in front of me like a puzzle I’m putting together. It kind of looks like the workings of a madman with lots of weird and wonderful shapes and lines connecting the words.

    Whether you use masses of post-it notes that cover a wall, large sheets of paper to spread your ideas on, or a journal to map your path, messy planning gets your ideas out of your head so you see different possibilities and pathways available to you.

    Begin this process by taking 15 minutes to answer, “What are my best hopes for my career path?”

    Write down your ideas and place them somewhere you’ll notice them every day.

    Think Like a Start-up Entrepreneur

    While successful career planning starts with a messy and random process to let those idea gems rise, the next step is taking these nuggets and using them to set your direction.

    Think of yourself (and your career) as if you’re the CEO of your successful start-up—one with a clear vision of what you want and how you’ll get it. Rather than waiting for a boss to give you goals, be proactive, and set your own.

    Begin by listing the bigger steps needed to achieve your goal. Then, chunk these down into smaller steps with specific actions needed to achieve them. These action steps are the workhorses of your short-term goals.

    Create a specific time frame to complete them and maintain accountability as if you’re reporting to your “higher up.”

    Begin this process by asking yourself: “What difference will I notice when I take these steps?” Then ask: “What difference will my boss notice when I take these steps?”

    Establish Triggers for Your Daily Habits

    Twyla Tharp (born 1941) legendary dancer and choreographer, maintains an exacting routine designed to trick her mind into a daily exercise habit[4]:

    I begin each day of my life with a ritual; I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st street and First Avenue, where I workout for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.

    It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning makes it repeatable and easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about.

    To do this list, create a trigger points—the smallest step you’ll do that will catapult you into taking action as Twyla Tharp did. What will be your ritual of “getting in the cab”?

    Advertising

    Talk About the Future

    Melanie Perkins CEO of Canva, a thriving design and publishing solution, is known for “frequently talking about the future.”

    Orienting your thoughts towards a future-focus reinforces how important your vision and goals are to you. Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said, “You are what you think.”

    • Make it a habit to read your goals daily.
    • Think about what you’ll notice that will be different in your life when you achieve them.
    • Express your goals to someone important in your life.
    • Whisper them to yourself throughout your day.

    Future-focused conversations (both with yourself and others) establish a pattern of expectancy, which continues fueling not only your desire, but also the expectation of achieving it.

    Manage Mental Resistance

    When you begin with hope, you activate a sense of expectancy—a belief that what you want is not only possible but within reach. Hope and expectancy are two powerful motivators in propelling you forward to a successful life.

    When you’re moving forward with hope, you’re orienting yourself towards your desired future. When moving away from something you perceive as painful, you’re activating fear, which can also be a strong motivator to help you avoid pain; for example, losing your job if your quarterly performance scores don’t improve.

    Sarah, a manager at a busy merchandising company, saw her doctor because she was feeling tired. After a thorough examination, the doctor advised Sarah to lose 25 pounds as this was contributing to her tiredness. The news felt overwhelming as Sarah worked long hours and rarely found time to shop for fresh food, so she relied on fast food to keep her going.

    For Sarah, the doctor activated her fear by describing what could happen (heart attack and/or diabetes) if she didn’t manage her weight by shedding 25 pounds.

    While “moving away from” motivation can be successful, a way of amplifying positive motivators that will see Sarah begin “moving towards” her goal is by talking about what outcomes Sarah would notice by losing 25 pounds.

    For example, managing her weight may see Sarah being more efficient at work, being more social, or feeling more able to manage work pressures and deadlines.

    To do this with your own goal setting, think about what’s important to you about achieving your short-term goals. Ask: “What will you notice that will be different in your life when these changes happen?”

    Summing It up

    Change is possible. Short-term goals that build upon each other are the stepping stones to achieving your best hopes.

    Using your creative imagination by noticing the small differences occurring daily offers a positive way to create practical change in an easy and doable way.

    Above all, make sure your goal is powered by passionate desire so you achieve your desired outcomes.

    More Tips About Goal Setting

    Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next