Advertising

How to Change Careers Successfully When It Seems too Late

Advertising
How to Change Careers Successfully When It Seems too Late

The wake-up call often comes when you least expect it. Maybe you’re enjoying a relaxing get-together with your old college buddies when someone turns to you and says, “Wow, I never thought you’d become an investment banker. I always thought you’d write a novel!” If this leaves you wondering how to change careers, you’re not alone.

Before you know it, you find yourself remembering your old dreams—and comparing them to the career field where you are now. Life rarely goes according to plan. Marriage, kids, and grandkids often come earlier than imagined—or later.

Maybe you pursued one career path because you were considered the breadwinner, but now someone else in the family is the breadwinner. Conversely, maybe you landed a job, thinking you’d stay for six months, and now you’ve been there for sixteen years.

A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed out that “baby boomers held an average of 12.3 jobs from ages 18 to 52″[1]. For millennials, who are more technologically apt, that number is likely to be much higher.

As this proves, it’s perfectly normal to change careers and begin a job search even when it seems too late! Steering your way through a career change is part calculation, part chance, and part leap-of-faith.

If you feel stuck and are ready for a career change, take these steps to guide you.

Step 1: Be Mentally Prepared

These points can help you master the psychological aspects of a career change at any age.

Now or Never Is a Fallacy

For most professionals, there is no cut-off age for striking out in a new direction. People do it at all stages of their careers.

If you’ve ever dreamed of leaving a large company to start your own business, you are not alone. Similarly, thousands of entrepreneurs and people working for one-man shops decide each year that they’d like to work for larger organizations.

You’ll find hordes of baby boomers looking for a redo alongside mobs of GenXers and Millennials—especially as the boomers now remain in the workforce longer than their predecessors.

Advertising

Your Career Is not a Straight Line From A to B

You don’t have to have your career trajectory completely decided from the start. In fact, that’s an unrealistic expectation, no matter how methodical you are.

People change. Industries merge, morph, and in some cases, disappear. Careers rarely follow the straight and narrow.

Many careers can be compared to journeys—there are the adventurous patches, boring patches, downright scary patches, and the hills and valleys, too. The trick is to try to have a little fun while you’re charting out your various careers.

Don’t panic if you find you need to change your career. It may take some work as you sort through job posts, write cover letters, and pursue your dream job, but you’re up for it.

Career Changers Are Among Good Company

Consider these well-known trailblazers whose careers took a radical turn:

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, studied computer science and electrical engineering at Princeton, went on to establish himself as a Wall Street prodigy, then quit to launch Amazon.com.

Sara Blakely, a billionaire businesswoman, was a fax machine salesperson before creating her signature slim wear line, Spanx.

Jonah Peretti, co-founder of the media sites Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, initially taught computer science to middle schoolers.

Be Ready to Take on the Naysayers

Expect plenty of advice—usually of the discouraging kind—from friends and family when they learn that you’re exploring a career change. Those you know best are often the most vocal in trying to thwart your plans.

Be prepared to field a flurry of pessimistic conjecture and doomsday scenarios. Know, though, that when your loved ones question your judgment, they’re not necessarily doubting your talent but trying to look out for your wellbeing. Stepping out of your comfort zone will make anyone close to you uncomfortable.

Advertising

Keep in mind that pessimists avoid the unknown, while optimists invite new challenges. Above all, believe in yourself and follow your instincts. Don’t let your fear of change paralyze you from seeking out your new career path.

Project an aura of enthusiasm, energy, and passion. You’ll find it’s contagious.

Step 2: Be Proactive

These tips can help you master the practical aspects of changing careers at any age.

Take Baby Steps

Ease into your new direction. Start building the skills you’ll need to make the switch.

Find out what skills you will need, and do whatever it takes to add them to your skills arsenal. Make the time to invest in additional training.

Start by devoting a half-day each week to your new pursuit until you’re ready to confidently make a move.

Clearly define where you want to go and what you’ll need to do to get there. Take an inventory of your strengths. Read trade magazines, and study up on industry trends.

Volunteer

Charitable organizations are often looking for volunteers to help them with their outreach, social media, and engagement. You can show up without the requisite skills and learn as you go in a fun, convivial, low-pressure environment, which will help you expand your experience and skills.

Take Online Courses

Today, LinkedIn and many other providers offer online courses in everything from accounting software to time management to mastering Excel. For extra credit, see if you can find classes that award online badges for completing each course.

Don’t be shy about adding these certificates to your online profile. Keep your profile fresh by adding more and more skills to it.

Advertising

Take a Temp Job

Depending on your field, it may be possible to freelance at a company where you learn on the job.

Remember that you can’t just show up at a potential employer’s claiming you have the skills. Taking a temporary job that allows you to polish your skills is proof that you’re serious about your career change.

Network!

Build a family tree of contacts. Explore beyond the main branches of your work acquaintances, industry groups, and social contacts. Join your alumni organization. Tell everyone.

Ask friends and friends-of-friends to meet you for coffee to explain what it is they do and tell you which skills you’ll need to succeed in your chosen field[2].

When you want to learn how to change careers, start by networking!

    If you have friends or associates with ties to the organizations where you want to work, ask your contacts to make an introduction. The majority of today’s jobs are found through one’s own networks. When jobs open up, companies invite informal recommendations from internal and external channels.

    Step 3: Take It Online

    This last step can help you master the online aspects of a career change at any age.

    Develop an Online Presence in the Field of Your Dreams

    Reconfiguring your online presence will be a critical step in your career change. Fine-tune your digital identity to reflect your new direction, tailoring your profile to the role and industry you’re after. Include keywords that are relevant to the industry so that recruiters can find you.

    Craft a clever personal statement that states your interests, your values, and your dreams. Once you’ve zeroed in on your message, also pick and choose which outlets make the most sense for it.

    Will your personal statement resonate on LinkedIn? Or is it highly visual—making it a better fit for Instagram?

    Advertising

    Polish your sites until they gleam, then get active so others take notice. Add insightful content to your social media pages that goes deeper than the information on your resume, such as commentaries on something taking place in your newly chosen field.

    For more on how to build an online presence, check out this article.

    Final Thoughts

    Americans spend 1,800 hours or more each year working. That’s nearly one-third of your life, and it goes without saying that your job satisfaction and career goals have a great bearing on your life’s happiness barometer.

    Set out to intentionally pursue career satisfaction, looking for opportunities to fine-tune your working life so that you find fulfillment.

    If playing the piano is your personal bliss, could you meld your love of music with your clinical psychology background and find a job using music to promote healing? Perhaps there’s a foundation that would fund you in a multiyear study.

    Or, if you’re a movie buff for whom every encounter has the makings of a screenplay, why not sign up for an evening class and see if your years of writing advertising copy could morph into a career move into the film industry?

    Achieving your career change successfully will occur when you mentally prepare, take a proactive approach, and mine your personal and online networks. The pay-off will be in a life well-lived in a successful career.

    More Tips on How to Change Careers

    Featured photo credit: Jason Strull via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Vicky Oliver

    Author of 6 best-selling books on job-hunting and job interview questions, business etiquette, frugalista style, advertising, and office politics.

    How to Create a 5-Year Career Development Plan (With Examples) 9 Ways to Swiftly Make a Midlife Career Change How to Make Going Back to School at 30 Possible 15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow 8 Easy Steps To Finding A Career Right For You

    Trending in Career Success

    1 What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career 2 How to Create a 5-Year Career Development Plan (With Examples) 3 4 Effective Ways To Improve Your Work Performance Greatly 4 14 Steps to Achieve Career Success on Your Own Terms 5 How to Make the Career Change You Need (The Complete Guide)

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on January 10, 2022

    What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

    Advertising
    What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

    Do you remember being invited to your job interview? Do you feel the same way about your job today? There’s nothing more soul-destroying than waking up Monday morning dreading the fact that you’re about to step back into slavery for a job you hate.

    You savor every minute at home before sadly turning the key in the lock to close your front door. From that moment on, you’re counting down the hours and minutes until it’s ‘TGIF’. Your anxiety might even start simmering well before your weekend is over.

    Your boss might be a bully or a manager who cannot actually lead and guide their team. Receiving mixed messages, being twisted and turned in multiple directions with none of the directives being for any real benefit can plummet your motivation and satisfaction so deep you’ll almost hit the Earth’s core.

    You love what you do and what you trained for, but any potential ounce of enjoyment has now completely evaporated. You feel dead in the water.

    You might be shocked at the suggestion that if you’re feeling these things, it’s actually a very good sign! You’re likely to be on the cusp of a significant cross-road that is going to change your life.

    Is Hating Your Job Normal?

    Do you feel horrible when you think about your job? Like everything in life, your job will always keep changing. Every day won’t be perfect. Some days will be challenging.

    However, you’ll always know when things are not right. You’ll know whether you are having a bad week or you are in a toxic situation. If you hate your job, you are not alone.

    A study conducted by Gallup found that 85 percent of the workforce in the world is unhappy.[1] If you hate your job, you need to examine where you are, whether you can improve your situation or if you should think of submitting a weeks notice of resignation to start a new job search.

    How to Cope When You Hate Your Job

    What to do when you hate a job that you once loved? The following key steps are going to set you back on the golden path to enjoying career success despite the muddy waters you currently find yourself in.

    1. Recognize the Signs of Discomfort

    Long gone are the days where we might expect to join a business or corporation and spend our lifetime working our way up into a cushy senior management role that will take care of us and our families for the rest of our lives. In fact, it’s actually risky business to even think this way.

    Pay rises are less frequent. Your skills and opportunities to expand your skills are now limited by staying within one job or organization. By definition, having a career means being on a continuous journey of development.

    Nowadays, the average person changes jobs in their lifetimes between 10 and 15 times. [2] Not changing job environments caps your capacity to grow your knowledge and strengthen your capabilities. You actually make yourself less employable.

    With the globalization of many businesses, you’re not only competing against people in your local neighborhood for your ideal role, you’re competing with folks from other cities, interstate, cross-country, and overseas.

    Advertising

    Some organizations are evolving with a constant focus on being innovative, taking calculated risks, and embracing new technologies — those that aren’t are falling to the wayside. If you don’t flow with the changing tides yourself, you could quickly find yourself stuck stagnant on a sinking ship with no lifeline.

    Monday morning blues are a key sign that you hate your job and it’s time to start thinking and doing things differently. What you are feeling is actually a blessing in disguise.

    2. Work with A Career Coach And/or Therapist

    When we really detest our daily grind, it’s high time to keep a lookout for the development of symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.

    Don’t just look for physical signs such as feeling greater and frequent fatigue, increased emotional eating, poor sleep. Loss of motivation, concentration and lower general interest not just in your work but in your personal life activities and relationships…these signs should raise alarm bells.

    Your friends and family might start reflecting they’re fed up of hearing about how your boss is constantly laying blame on you for their mistakes.

    Tolerance has worn thin listening to constant complaints about your doing the work of two people yet never confronting your boss about it. Continuing to play the broken record of your pain is not only sucking the lifeblood out of you but your friends and family as well.

    Don’t hold off working with a therapist and/or career coach when you notice these things. Both professionals will help you recognize the full picture of your experience and how it’s impacting you. Of greatest value is their helping you to start identifying changes you need to make and how to turn those into reality.

    When your emotional, physical and mental resources are drained from coping with your soul-destroying nine-to-five, your mindset is unlikely to have the optimal sensibility to hatch your escape plan.

    You’re likely to be operating from a fixed mindset of desperation than innovation and run the stakes of moving from one crappy job situation to another.

    Invest focus to rediscovering your worth, career interests and learning how to dream big again. Go deep in exploration of what your values are around what you want your work to give to you and mean to you.

    If working with a coach or therapist feels like an uncomfortable step for you, consider looking into undertaking a course that helps you work through these questions. Give yourself a gentle kick to ignite momentum in a different direction.

    3. Change Your Workspace

    Hostile or toxic work environments lead to competition, negativity, bullying, unrest, sickness, and high turnover. A toxic workplace is just one of the signs that you hate your job and can poison your personal and professional life.

    Working in a toxic workplace feels horrible. And it takes little effort for the workspace to become toxic. Why do workplaces become hostile and toxic? When leaders cultivate the culture of me-first or kill or be killed, the workplace becomes toxic.

    Advertising

    Other organizations start well and fall into the trap of chasing power or money. At times, a single employee can cause the entire workplace to become toxic. And it takes a lot of time to restore such an organization.

    The best thing that you can do for yourself and others working in a toxic environment is to get out.

    4. Don’t Be Stagnant for A Long Time

    Do your colleagues and loved ones congratulate you on your work anniversary? What comes to mind when they wish you the best in your career? You might start wondering what you’ve been doing over the past couple of years because you’ve been at a standstill. And you don’t like it at all.

    It’s quite difficult to identify stagnancy in a job. And when you do, you’ll start feeling like you are doing the same things over and over. Before you realize it, five years have passed and you haven’t developed yourself in any way. This eventually leads to a lack of passion for your job.

    You might feel stagnant at your job for several reasons. First, you could be the problem. If your job is easy and there’s no one to challenge you, you’ll find yourself going with the flow. Prolonged stagnancy can lead to burnout.

    To avoid this, you need to ensure that your career challenges and excites you. While your career shouldn’t be your life’s purpose, it should be something that inspires and motivates you.

    Regardless of your post, you’ll always need to be creative to move forward. You need to find simple ways to infuse creativity in your job. You can start organizing files or developing your design skills.

    5. Read Simon Sinek’s Find Your Why

    Reading Find Your Why by globally renowned organizational consultant and speaker Simon Sinek could be a transformational step in finding your way back to experiencing a successful and enjoyable career.

    Sinek and his co-authors explain there isn’t really a difference between having a professional why and a personal why.

    It’s just as much the reason why your friends and family love you as an expression of the work you put yourself into every day. It’s less about tasks and activities and really about what emotional and mental satisfaction doing those things brings you.

    What results is a beautiful tapestry of people not just experiencing an incredible product or service from you. You love what you do, create and get to give and they love you back for channeling that passion into that service and product they experience to benefit from.

    This article also guides you through to discover your why:

    How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

    Advertising

    6. Try to Avoid Workplace Burnout

    When you have a lot of duties and responsibilities at work, you’ll have limited or no time for yourself and your loved ones. Working all the time can lead to stress and burnout.

    One of the popular types of burnout that you’ll experience is worn-out burnout. Worn-out burnout is usually experienced by employees who are always overworked with little or no positive outcomes.

    Burnout usually happens because the cycle is continuous and it starts taking from your professional life, relationships, personal life, and your health. You can avoid workplace burnout by balancing your working life and personal life.

    7. Consider Expanding Your Thinking and Entrepreneurial Flair

    You might think “I’ll always be an employee” and the thought of starting a business might scare the living daylights out of you. Even then, there is a strong chance you have monetizable talents that could, at the very least, swiftly direct your mindset away from the chilling notion of being stuck in your dead-end job for eternity.

    The thought of creating a product or service all by yourself could be dauntingly foreign. Doing something like this could feel like ridiculously fathoming a climb of Mt Everest when you don’t know the first thing about climbing or hiking!

    But once you start looking and having explorative conversations with different mindsets about ideas, instead of debriefing the horrible day you had yet again in your job, things will start to change. Like Sleeping Beauty being awoken from slumber by Prince Charming’s first kiss, you’ll start discovering a whole new way of thinking you won’t ever want to harness.

    Look at what skills you have to perform your current job. What skills have you acquired in the past that might simply have been dormant for a little while? Do you miss being able to exercise certain skills?

    When you have the discussion with your career coach, you’ll discover there are probably many more skills, knowledge and experiences you could even package and sell than you realize. However, remember: it’s not just about the money. It never should be.

    Even if you have been an administrator for many years, could the next step be writing introductory course administrators or young job seekers could benefit from? There is no better teacher or education platform to learn from than hands-on experience. It might be a side gig you create which you pitch to and deliver at high schools and job-seeking agencies.

    You might create a face-to-face workshop and/or an accompanying course that you create and sell on online education platforms such as Udemy or Teachable.

    Your course might inform and teach interview techniques and communication tips for working with managers and bosses. You might suggest what exercising initiative looks like and what individuals can do to help themselves feel comfortable and confident early in their jobs.

    There often is nothing more satisfying than learning and knowing that someone else’s challenges and problems were overcome because of wisdom and experience we could share with them. We all have something we can teach and offer people. What might you have to offer?

    8. Consider What You Want to Be Doing, Not Just What You’re Currently Doing

    It’s time to start letting the masses know what you’re capable of, not just in terms of what you have done but what you’re aspiring towards and charging forward to achieve.

    Advertising

    Global recruitment firm Robert Half explains how personal branding is essential to progress and enjoy a successful career.[3] Providing an impressive sounding resume and a cover letter are no longer enough.

    What we engage with and how we show up online and offline is taken into account more now than ever. So we need to be strategic.

    If you are looking for opportunities to work in overseas companies in your industry, you might consider researching best practices other off-shore companies are engaging in and writing your own short LinkedIn post about it.[4] Or you may simply look to post a link to what you have found and provide short critical evaluations about it.

    Start thinking about how you market yourself and stop leaving it to chance. Whilst many think social media is only for personal social items, consider how your engagement on these platforms portrays you to your audiences. Steer potential employers and business partners to see you as you want to be seen, not just as you are.

    9. Get Back on Track by Learning New Things

    When you are waking up each day with a sick feeling in your stomach knowing work duties call, there is a hard reality you have to face:

    It’s your responsibility to make the necessary changes. It is no one else’s responsibility to make you feel happy or satisfied with your work. At the end of the day, it’s yours.

    If you want to have a successful career, you have to take charge of the direction and types of experiences you want to have on your journey. Where do you want to go? How far and why? What training or opportunities might give you this? Is it executive coaching? Perhaps undertaking an MBA? Allow yourself to think laterally too.

    Let’s say project management is a skill set you need to learn, or incompetent boss snidely commented you would never make it without these skills. Could volunteering to crew for an event speaking company platform fast track your learning as to what’s involved? Financial forecasting, marketing, resource and supplies management, working with different team member personalities and managing client relations…you could never gain hands-on experiential learning like this you via a classroom or online course.

    The e-learning industry is forecast to reach $325USbillion by 2025.[5] With the quality of online learning gateways growing exponentially with very affordable costs of access to world-class teachers, golden opportunities to increase your skill set and knowledge are at your fingertips.

    Never has there been a better time for you to design a career pathway and forge an enriching educational journey that feeds not just your professional curiosities but personal interests too.

    Final Thoughts

    No successful career has ever involved dancing to the same tune. When you find yourself despising your job more often than not, change is nigh. By using just one of these tips above, you can rechart your course to have a successful career.

    In a short amount of time, you won’t only resuscitate the self-worth and recognition of our unique value that dead-end jobs can steal from you. You’ll enjoy deeper, prolonged levels of satisfaction, energizing self-discovery and opportunities to turn your career into a far more gratifying journey you could ever have imagined.

    The best part is that you don’t even have to wait to land the dream job. The journey itself will be magical.

    Advertising

    More Tips for Career Success

    Featured photo credit: Christian Battaglia via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next