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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

How to Swiftly Make a Midlife Career Change

How to Swiftly Make a Midlife Career Change

You wonder how they did it. How did your friend, a librarian at your public library, snag the fabulous marketing job at a digital ad agency? And how did the TV producer you’re acquainted with just become the prestigious publisher of an online parenting magazine? While you were watching “Game of Thrones,” how did so many of your peers manage to make a midlife career change that landed them in exciting new jobs?

One thing your friends probably didn’t do: listen to the naysayers. There will always be some well-meaning family member or acquaintance who will counsel you against any sort of career change, saying it’s too big a risk.

Aren’t your mid-30’s to early-50’s meant to be your optimal earning years where you advance up the ladder in your current field, this person may argue. Why would you want to sacrifice spectacular earnings for the paltry paycheck you will likely earn when you change careers?

Because maybe it’s not all about money. Maybe you’ve decided that your chosen career path doesn’t have the allure it once had. Or maybe the change you’re after is about money!

You realize that you’ve already reached the pinnacle of your earning potential at a figure well short of your original goal. Instead of being held back by this fact, it forces you to really examine your long-term career trajectory[1].

Below, find your 5-point plan for how to swiftly make a midlife career change.

1. Allow Yourself the Luxury to Dream Big

Now that the idea has taken hold, what is your next step? You may have to reckon with financial responsibilities, such as a home mortgage, a car payment, and a family to support, so making a rash move isn’t in your best interest. Still, give yourself the luxury of dreaming big.

Give some thought to what your ideal career looks like:

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  • What’s your perfect job title?
  • What responsibilities will make up your workday?
  • What qualities would make for an outstanding boss and great colleagues?

Make a list and refer back to it as you consider new opportunities.

2. Do Your Due Diligence

Next, do your homework. Understand the fundamentals of your dream job so there won’t be any unwelcome surprises later.

Find out whether this occupation offers a respectable starting salary and is in a growth cycle. Explore any additional educational requirements and available programs.

In this investigative stage, take an inventory of all the hard and soft job skills you have to offer. You probably have more transferable skills than you realize.

For example, if you’ve been teaching high school science but want to venture into the medical research field, your classroom experience may have more crossover potential than you first thought.

A scientist working in a medical university lab, for instance, may oversee undergraduates helping to carry out the research. Similarly, strong communication skills honed from teaching classes may make you a whiz at presenting research findings.

3. Think of Yourself as a Matchmaker

Look at job postings for your dream position — and for a tier or two below it if you’ll need to work your way up. Consider how to adapt your abilities to the job requirements.

Think of yourself as a professional matchmaker, creating a match between yourself and your potential employer. Pinpoint and promote those traits that make you most desirable, and know how to put your best attributes forward.

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Employers will be attracted to your technical expertise, but also to your people skills — the soft skills that make you a good communicator, a reliable team player, and a value-driven employee.

Suppose that you’re applying for a financial analyst or financial planner position. Hopefully you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in a major that qualifies you, such as business or economics. Then showcase your accounting skills, analytical acuity, and dexterity with a spreadsheet. Many firms have their own software, so you’ll want to plug your overall knowledge of technology along with your talent for navigating computer platforms.

Beyond proving that you possess these hard skills, you’ll shine if you can also highlight two or three people skills. Provide relatable examples. Strong verbal communication and unwavering integrity are two skills with particular relevance to careers in finance.

Beyond that, it’s always a good idea to remember that every job involves interacting with people. People skills are always in demand.

Ideally, you will perfectly match your skills with the skills needed in the job of your dreams. For those skills that you already possess, be sure to describe them in the way they’re stated on a job posting. As for the skills you don’t possess, put a plan in place to acquire them.

4. Carve out a Path for Mastering New Skills

The radically changing nature of most industries today can actually work in your favor. Even veteran workers in professions such as consumer electronics, retail, and service industries, to name a few, need to re-educate themselves to stay on top of the changing way business is conducted in today’s technological world.

Still, before you spend the time and money on any program, check out reviews by previous students, ask colleagues for recommendations, and carefully read the course descriptions.

Here’re some options for you to master new skills:

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Online Courses

If you’re a self-starter who is pressed for time, online courses may be the easiest way to pick up needed skills for the job you’re after. Online courses run the gamut from providing a quick 2 to 3 hour introduction to a potential career path to offering specific training. Some online programs even reward you with a full-blown degree from a prestigious university.

Continuing Education Courses

Another route to acquiring new skills for a midlife career change is to take continuing education courses at a local university or community college. Weekly, in-person classes will allow you to keep your day job.

Consider discussing your goals with your boss. Some companies encourage continuous learning. Home Depot, for example, offers employees up to $5,000 towards approved courses. Ask your supervisor whether your company has an educational assistance program. You will save your hard-earned money, and your employer will be investing in a very important asset: you.

Career Training Programs

Many high-skilled, high-paying careers require a specialized industry certification. Moreover, today’s career training programs are a far cry from the vocational education centers of the past. They’re now driven by technology and often taught by instructors working in the field. These programs are career-focused and can be completed faster than traditional community college and four-year college programs. It’s often possible to set up a class schedule that includes online, evening, or weekend classes.

Academic Degree Programs

If you decide to go all-in and enroll in an academic degree program (MBA, MFA, or other), discuss low-residency options with your academic counselor that will allow you to earn the degree while being flexible about hours spent inside a classroom. Fellowship programs, while intensely competitive, can fully fund a master’s degree in some fields.

5. Attract Notice Through Smart Networking

Along with gaining requisite skills, you’ll need to ramp up a robust networking campaign[2]. Seventy to eighty percent of jobs never reach the open market in an online listing. Why? Because the jobs are filled before they go public.

When you network, which, broadly speaking, means reaching out to employers and employees in the field of your dreams, you increase your chances of hearing about a job long before it hits the open market.

Smart networking means taking a two-pronged approach:

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First, target your friends, acquaintances, and industry connections who may be able to give you a foothold for making a contact inside a particular firm. While it may be considered old-fashioned to tap your organically grown network, it still comes with the best odds of success.

Make a point of meeting face-to-face with anyone who can offer you a lead or provide a reference. You never know what kind of opportunity will unfold from these offline connections. For a midlife career change, face-to-face networking is a great strategy to pursue.

But don’t stop there. Employ social media, which will exponentially increase your networking opportunities. Today, first impressions are mostly made in cyberspace. Making a strong online impression through a carefully curated social media profile may attract hiring managers and recruiters.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, every good match comes down to a “speed date.”

Throughout your career transition, you’ll be working to effectively make the case that your skills are the skills that your dream company needs.

Just like speed dating, where strangers make snap decisions on your “date-ability,” employers will decide your hire-ability in less time than it takes to eat lunch. With both, first impressions are key.

More Tips on Making a Midlife Career Change

Featured photo credit: Brendan Church 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 Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details How To Write Minutes of Meeting Effectively (with Examples) 13 Critical Things to Consider Before Switching Careers How to Swiftly Make a Midlife Career Change Why You Are Never Too Old for College (And How To Make It Work)

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Last Updated on January 14, 2021

8 Reasons Why You’re Unhappy at Work (And What to Do)

8 Reasons Why You’re Unhappy at Work (And What to Do)

Work isn’t great right now. Do you remember when you were so excited to get this job? But now, the excitement of change and accomplishment has worn off, and you find yourself in a general state of unhappiness at work…

Why are you really unhappy at work? There are plenty of reasons to be unhappy in your job role and it is easy to place blame on other people or things out of your control. What is the real reason, underneath your excuses and the feeling of just knowing you aren’t happy?

And why don’t you just quit? That is always the go to move, isn’t it? You don’t like your job, quit it and find another. But after a few jobs, you find that the problem isn’t the job, it is like no matter what dream job you get, you end up back here. Unhappy. Even if this job was your dream before, the crushing reality that it is not all you thought it would be is setting in. And in reality, not all of us can just quit our jobs and flit off and get their dream job, we have lives and responsibilities.

So I compiled a helpful list of all the top 8 reasons people are unhappy at work and what to do about it to help you move forward towards a happier life in your current job role.

1. You Hate Your Boss

Your boss, thou who decides thy fate doth hath the uncanny ability to rub you up the wrong way. Not everyone likes their boss, we all dream of this perfect boss who doesn’t micro manage and isn’t incompetent. But nobody is perfect, not even your dream boss.

Your boss controls your work environment, they organize work, define your job role and is your support network and back up if you reach a problem. If you have an issue with your boss, it’s time to take some responsibility and do something about it. You are not responsible for your boss’ behavior but you can control your reactions, actions and attitude moving forward.

If you walk into the office every day committing to hate your boss, there is no room for growth or amending fences. You need to decide to find a way to make this work, here are the 3 things you can do to help you take control of your happiness at work:

  • Discuss your issues with your boss and find a way you can both work together. Team up and create a plan so that you can both work and not vex each other.
  • Improve your communication skills with them. We all communicate in different ways, you need to find a way to see eye to eye. Find out how they communicate and learn to communicate in that way so that they will respond to you better because they feel heard and understood.
  • Step up. If you can’t reason with your boss and they keep shutting you down, find a way to work around them so you don’t have to rely on them. Take on more responsibility.

2. You Hate Your Co-Workers

We ALL have co-workers we do not like, they drive us up the wall in ways you couldn’t even imagine. Your happiness is dependent on your environment and, if you spend 40+ hours of your week in an environment that doesn’t make you happy, you will be unhappy.

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Co-workers play a huge part in this, as social creatures, we crave social interaction and we are forced to socialize with our co workers simply by proximity. If we are surrounded by negative people who don’t make us feel good about ourselves, unhappiness and a drop in self confidence follows.

What can we do about this? We have two options when dealing with annoying co workers:

  • Change your attitude about them. Realize that the things your co-workers are doing that annoy you are just reflections of your own inner judgement. For example, Brenda from accounting tells lots of white lies and it drives you mad because you hate lying. That is an issue with your experiences with lying and not something you can control. You can’t control their actions (the white lies) but you can control your reactions (your very obvious eye roll and comment). Instead of responding negatively to them, change the narrative to a more positive judgement and release the negative one. Re-write who you think they are and see the other side of the picture. So when Brenda tells a small white lie, think about how she does it to make someone else feel better, even if she doesn’t believe it herself, she’s compassionate and focus on the good.
  • Avoid them. Some people are just incompatible, it can’t be helped and if you can’t change them or accept them for who they are, simply avoid them at all costs. Requests to move desks if you have too, find a way to not be around them if they are causing you this much pain and stress.

3. Your Job Isn’t Fun or Rewarding

Your job isn’t always going to be fun and games; and when it no longer becomes rewarding, you are going to feel unhappy. Human beings thrive on rewards and entertainment and we love competition. By making your work environment fun and rewarding, you will start to enjoy going to work.

How can you make your job more fun and rewarding?

  • You can try creating games for yourself to play, friendly competitions with your co workers (if you like them!)
  • Create a rewards system so if you hit a target or goal, you get a coffee from Starbucks or another small treat. An example of this would be, if you close 3 files by 5pm, you get to have a cocoa nib; or if you win today’s sales target, you get to have the victory trophy on your desk for the day.

4. You Don’t Believe in the Work That You Are Doing

This one is one of the core reasons you’re unhappy in a job role; you are living out of alignment of your core values.

If your job role doesn’t match up with your core values, then you will be miserable. If you value helping people and you work in program coding, you will struggle to be happy, unlike someone whose values problem solving.

It isn’t impossible to enjoy your job if your values don’t align with your work. You could reason that by doing program coding, you are helping someone, be it your co-workers or the people who will eventually use your project. You can always flip your perspective.

Learn what your core values are and find a way for them to align with your job role, in doing so changing the motivation that drives you to do your work. For example, to help people or to problem solve.

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And if you can’t, maybe it is time to start to consider a career change into a job you have always wanted to do secretly, deep down.

5. You Feel Stagnant in Your Job Role and You Are Bored

Your job isn’t going anywhere and you feel like you are wasting your time on this earth, feeling utterly unfulfilled. We love being safe and secure but we also love progression, we get bored of the same ol’ same old, we want new challenges and things to do. If you are just pushing through papers, day in day out, you will become unhappy so what can you do about it?

  • Apply for a promotion or ask for new challenges from your boss.
  • Mix up your attitude, find ways to make it more fun and exciting.
  • Shop around for a promotion at another firm.

6. You Are Underpaid

You feel underpaid for the work that you are doing and it is making you feel unhappy because all the hard work you are putting in isn’t being appreciated enough. If it was, you wouldn’t feel underpaid.

Let’s ask the hard question, are you really being underpaid? Or do you just feel unappreciated or overworked? Maybe it is because you have taken on additional responsibilities and you feel like you aren’t being rewarded accordingly.

People who are unhappy because they feel underpaid are stressed about money, they are working hard and it is going unnoticed and unappreciated.

The key component at play here is stress. Increasing bills and expenses in their personal life, general life stresses, more and more work is coming in and it is being unrewarded and you feel like you need a reward for handling all this stress. And you do, but you have been purchasing stress relief for a while and you need more money to pay for more stress relief, as more stresses get dropped into your inbox each day.

If you feel underpaid, it is because you don’t love your work and it’s is not worth the amount of stress for your salary. Have you heard that famous quote:

Working for something you don’t care about is called Stress. Working for something you do care about is called Passion.

Here are things you can do to spark happiness when you are feeling underpaid

  • Reignite your passion with your work, find meaning in it and see the results that you are creating. Every day you come in and you make a difference somehow, start to see how it’s affecting other people, and start to appreciate yourself for doing it.
  • Ask for a raise. Simple but often never done option.
  • If you are being underpaid and if there is no room for a raise (and you have asked), then I suggest finding ways to reduce your stress levels. Trying things like guided meditations, exercise or stress relieving hobbies can reduce the feeling of being undervalued because your life is suddenly so much more than just working for money.

7. You Are Overwhelmingly Overworked

We all get burnt out from work sometimes as work comes in flows of business. And at some point, you crack and the pressure and stress gets to be a little too much; especially since you have sacrificed your personal life just to try and keep on top of this ever increasing workload.

If you feel overworked, you need to learn some self-care so you can keep on top of the burnout:

  • Stop helping out unnecessarily, at least until you feel under worked. Start saying no to anything that isn’t vitally important.
  • Find a way to automate or reduce your workload. Delegate, hire new staff, get programs into to automate parts of your job role.
  • Keep on top of your mental health, make sure you are doing the necessary things to keep it in check, whatever your process is (or find a process and implement it).
  • Set boundaries. Work shouldn’t be your life, if you say you are clocking off at 6, you clock off at 6. Set hard boundaries because this technologically advancing modern world will push them. If you finish work, don’t check your emails, leave the office, go do something recreational to help you relax and rest, I advise going on a walk to let your head relax.

8. You Are Feeling Really Unappreciated at Work

One of the core driving elements in humans is our need for recognition and if it goes un appeased, you will feel unhappy. You can try and force appreciation out of your co-workers and bosses, like a child with their 10th crayon drawing sticking it under their parents noses and gladly proclaiming what they have done. But that is never as satisfying as it seems and the validation received is not authentic enough, it feels hollow and empty.

So what can you do about it since you cannot control anyone expression appreciation of your hard work?

Be the change you want to see in the office. Create an initiative to show everyone else they are appreciated, I bet that half of your office feel unappreciated.

Start a culture of appreciation and gratitude, start thanking people and noticing their hard work. Go out of your way to make someone else feel appreciated, the more you do it, the better your environment will become.

With all things, Expectation equals Manifestation. If you treat everyone with appreciation and make an effort, they will most certainly make an effort to appreciate you back. Someone just has to start the chain, why shouldn’t it be you?

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All of these issues can also be resolved by you quitting your job and finding a greener field. Sometimes your job just sucks, your boss is just unworkable, no matter how positive you are, people are always unappreciative and negative and you really are underpaid.

What If You Hate Your Job But Can’t Quit?

There is a difference between being unhappy in your job role and hating your job which makes it much harder when you want to quit and you can’t. Not everyone can just quit their job whenever they feel like it, even with some savings hidden away, you have bills to pay, a social life to maintain (when you can get one!) and people who rely on you. But you HATE your job, you wake up in the morning and you really wish you could wake up as somebody else in an alternate timeline.

Here are our top 3 things to do when you really hate your job and can’t quit.

  1. Change departments or job roles within the business. Shop around, see if there is another role that would be more suited to you or that you would actually find more interesting.
  2. Change your attitude. You attitude controls your reality, if you wake up and decide that you hate work, you are not going to have a good day. Change your mindset from negative to gratitude. Make a list of all the reasons you are grateful for your job, it may take a while, but the more reasons you find the be grateful, the easier it is going to work will become.
  3. Apply for other jobs, there is nothing stopping you from quitting your job if you have another solid job lined up and if it’s making you THAT miserable. No amount of money is worth the struggle to your mental health.

Final Thoughts

Remember that happiness is completely within your control. How you handle outside influences trying to wreak havoc on your happiness by putting you down and making you feel unworthy is completely up to you.

You can’t always let every comment bounce off you like water off a duck’s back, but you can control the environment you are in, the attitude in which you face adversity, and you control what you think. Make an effort to learn to see things in another way because even if you quit and go to a greener grass, not everything will always be “perfect”.

More About Leading a Fulfiling Career

Featured photo credit: Mimi Thian via unsplash.com

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