Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 4, 2021

How To Make the Right Career Choice After 30 And Succeed

How To Make the Right Career Choice After 30 And Succeed

In college, you have about a one in three chance of switching majors at least once, according to government stats.[1] It’s not a big deal then, because you’re not locked into a professional path. What happens, though, when you want to make a career change later? Are you stuck at 30 with the career choice you made at 20? Not at all.

In fact, plenty of people make minor and significant career power moves after adulting for a few years. Some have become disenchanted with their original picks. Others realize their talents are more suitable in some other field. Whatever the reason, all career movers usually feel trepidation. After all, busting out of an unfulfilling career choice before midlife seems daunting.

Here’s the truth, though—it doesn’t have to cause undue amounts of stress. Truth be told, you can do a full u-turn professionally with a career choice that works. You just have to take a few steps to up the chances of emotional, intellectual, and fiscal success.

1. Stop Pursuing Your Future Life on Today’s Terms

As Jason Jaggard, the founder of executive coaching firm Novus Global, points out, you don’t have to waste time finding out how to live life on your terms. Why? You’re already doing it—you just don’t realize you’re doing it!

“Your life is the perfect expression of your current terms. Before you try to be successful on your own terms, first you’ll want to improve your terms.”[2]

Advertising

Consequently, you need to figure out why your current life has worked for you so far, why it doesn’t work now, and what price you are willing to pay to change it. For instance, you might be going to a nine-to-five job and making “x” amount of dollars annually. What has the 9 to 5 gotten you so far? (i.e. security?) So, security is one of your current terms. But is that the term you want? Maybe not.

Figure out what your next-gen terms will be. You’ll be in a better position to negotiate them as you look into a new career.

2. Audition a Bunch of Careers

Before you dive into a career choice that seems like a dream come true, act like Simon Cowell and audition a few possibilities. Consider it something like a taste test. Set out a buffet of business options and then figure out a way to try them all. As an example, you might want to shadow someone in the career or interview a person from LinkedIn—yes, even a stranger. People are quite open to responding to requests for guidance.

Evaluating numerous paths will only help you feel better about your upcoming move. The last thing you want to do is assume that a field will be “the one,” only to find out you were wrong. That’s like going into a marriage after only a first date. So, allow yourself to think big, but don’t commit to any specific career choice until you’ve tried on several.

3. Pinpoint Your North Star

Every job seeker and career climber has a North Star. It’s Mt. Everest, the pinnacle of “I made it!

Advertising

Jawad Ahsan, the best-selling author of What They Didn’t Tell Me, says you need your North Star as a guide. Ahsan recommends that once you have it, you can “work backwards from there to where you are today, and focus on the experiences you need to get to stay on your path.” He suggests getting help from sherpas along the way, such as honest mentors.

What if you’re having difficulty focusing on your North Star? Picture yourself in three years. Where are you? What does your life look like? Be general. Don’t get all muddied in specific jobs. Just be open-minded. Do you want to manage others? Work independently? Be creative? Help people solve big (or small) problems? Your answers will help you define your North Star.

4. Keep Your Day Job—for Now

As you become more excited at the thought of a career change, you might be tempted to quit whatever you’re doing now. Please don’t. You’ll only set yourself up for potential hardship. Here’s why: It can be very challenging to explain to a would-be recruiter why you suddenly left a position. The recruiter may see you as a “flight risk,” and that’s not a good look.

Yes, it can be tough to keep going into an office or situation that leaves you disengaged. Nevertheless, you will at least have income flowing into your account. And having enough money today will keep you from fretting if you have to take a lower salary temporarily later. After all, sometimes, reaching your North Star will require detours like going back to school or taking lesser paying positions.

5. Try a Side Hustle

Many people have discovered that the gig economy isn’t just a way to earn some extra bucks while you’re working full time. It’s a terrific, low-risk method to try out careers.

Advertising

Consider this: You would love to work on old cars for a living. But you’re currently an accountant, and your family counts on your income to cover expenses. As a result, you start a little side business working on a few friends’ antique autos from your home garage.

In time, you get quite the reputation as someone who knows how to turn a clunker into a status symbol. With a little help from a decent website, word-of-mouth marketing, and thoughtful digital advertising, you land lots of clients. If you can reach a tipping point, you can flip your side gig. How? Perhaps you keep working as an accountant during tax season but fix cars the rest of the time.

6. Get in Gear to “Skill Up”

Unless your career change choice is a straight lateral move from what you’re doing today, you’ll need new expertise. Fortunately, you live in a virtual world. That means you can take courses online from reputable organizations and universities. Some classes and workshops are free or extremely affordable, too. This allows you to upskill in a precise way to boost your resume.

As you begin to enhance your abilities and education, start expanding your network. For instance, on LinkedIn, begin to connect with people in fields that might interest you. Don’t be afraid to ask strangers to become connections. Lots of people will say yes. You can even message them and ask for suggestions in ways to get more experience in particular industries.

7. Remain Patient Throughout the Process

What’s one of the biggest reasons job hoppers lose faith when trying to change careers in their 30s or beyond? The answer is easy—lack of patience. It can be tough to wait months or years to get what you want. That’s why you have to keep yourself motivated (and why you shouldn’t allow yourself to be ruled by the negative people in your world).

Advertising

Some people like to keep journals of their day-to-day journeys. This keeps them focused on the ultimate prize. Others literally remind themselves of their passions regularly so they aren’t tempted to quit. Veering away from a career path takes a lot of inner strength. Surround yourself with supportive family and friends and leave the naysayers beyond.

8. Prepare Yourself Financially

When you’re just setting out on your career in your early 20s, you aren’t as worried about earning a salary. Sure, you have bills to pay. But you probably don’t own a house or maybe even a car. Switching careers in your 30s is a completely different ballgame.

By the time you’re in your 30s, you likely have multiple financial obligations. You might even have a spouse or kiddos or at least a furry friend. Utility bills, internet payments, and student loans add up. Therefore, do yourself a huge bonus and sock away money as soon as you realize you’re going to change careers.

9. Share Your Career Choice Goals With Others

It can be tough to make good decisions in a vacuum because you’ll probably miss something. Consequently, you may want to share your career change decisions with close friends or loved ones. Explain what you want to do, and listen to their responses. They might have some amazing feedback or ideas that you never considered.

Will some people try to talk you out of shifting careers? Certainly. Don’t dismiss their concerns out of hand, though. Instead, hear them out. What they say might include a few nuggets of wisdom that you can use. Besides, you’ll appreciate having folks to share your successes with when everything starts to come to fruition.

Final Thoughts

Above all else, your life is a journey ideally dictated by what you need and want. If you’re approaching 30 and feeling disconnected careerwise, contemplate a move. You’ll be in good company with all the others who have made the trip before you.

More Career Advice

Featured photo credit: Tim Gouw via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Kimberly Zhang

Kimberly Zhang is the Chief Editor of Under30CEO and has a passion for educating the next generation of leaders to be successful.

6 Reasons Why Taking Up Digital Skills And Knowledge Is Crucial How To Make the Right Career Choice After 30 And Succeed How to Protect Your Mental Health in Tough Times How To Be Successful In Leadership As an Introverted Leader 18 Brainstorming Techniques for More Creative Ideas

Trending in Career Success

1 8 Easy Steps To Finding A Career Right For You 2 How To Excel At Work And Achieve Career Success 3 How Social Media Can Hurt Your Job Search And Your Future Career 4 How To Make the Right Career Choice After 30 And Succeed 5 How To Be a Self-Starter And Take Initiative At Work

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on March 24, 2021

8 Easy Steps To Finding A Career Right For You

8 Easy Steps To Finding A Career Right For You

In the U.S., workers on average spend 90,000 hours of their lives working.[1] This means that it is likely you will spend more time working than with your spouse or partner. For this reason, it is especially important to love your job. When you are in a job you love, it feels custom-made just for you. You feel your values reflected in the company’s mission. You feel rewarded just for working there — “Thank God it’s Monday,” you think each week, and the paycheck is nice, too.

Here are 8 steps for finding the career that fits your personality like a glove.

1. Look At Yourself Carefully

Firstly, Look Inside

Some diagnostic tests help you assess who you are and what jobs make a good fit. Among free assessments you can take, the Myers-Briggs personality test is among the most popular for gauging how you perceive the world and make decisions. It consists of some 90 either-or questions that indicate whether you consider yourself an extrovert or introvert, and what influences perceptions.

Knowing yourself and the qualities associated with your personality type can help you decide whether you would be more comfortable in a front- or back-office setting, are more of an “ideas” or “execution” person, or prefer an open office or a quiet, enclosed setting to do your best work.

Career Explorer is another diagnostic careers tool, and offers a free Career Test to reveal how your interests and goals match up against some 1,000 careers. The test asks your general interest in a handful of random careers, along with your career satisfaction in previous jobs, and predicts career matches that fit your profile.

Then, Look Outside

Your friends and family members often know you better than you know yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask them, “What kind of career do you see me in?” or “How can I find a career that’s right for me? and pay attention to their answers.

Also, think back to talents you enjoyed in your younger years, particularly those that elicited comments from others along the lines of “You’re going to make a great ___________ some day.” Others often see special abilities in you that you may have overlooked.

2. Write Lists

The perfect career awaits you if you do your homework. Keep careful lists of the qualities you possess and which types of businesses will reward those qualities.[2]

Advertising

Similarly, when your friends have ideas for you, write them down. You want to be able to go back and reflect on different career paths.

Putting pen to paper — or fingers to keyboards — and allowing yourself to follow ideas where they lead is a valuable step for finding the career that is right for you.

What elements of past or current jobs and experiences stick out as the most enjoyable? List them. Think of careers where you could recapture some of those elements.

Write down the activities where you find real joy. Do you love decorating or rearranging your living room? Could this translate to fulfilling work in interior design or merchandising? Or do you find children endlessly entertaining? Perhaps you would find teaching or youth development a rewarding career path.

Generate a list of ideas, no matter how eccentric they may seem, and see if any patterns emerge.

Write a Master List of All Your Strengths and All Your Weaknesses

Be as specific as possible. If you hate waking up before 11 a.m., it is going to be hard to hold down a 9 to 5 job (unless you can work remotely in another part of the country with a different time zone). If you love talking to people, maybe the back office of a research department is too isolating for you.

Are you high energy or laid back? Do your strengths or weaknesses tend to make you a natural leader or more of a maverick? Own your particular personality strengths and quirks, and think about the various work environments where you could make the most of them. Do you like receiving direction or chafe when someone gives you feedback?

3. Set up 15-Minute Informational Interviews

All of this introspection will help you narrow your search criteria, but then it must lead to action. Ask around to see if there is anyone you know who would spare a few minutes to discuss her field with you. It could be a friend or a friend-of-a-friend or even one of your parents’ friends. You may be surprised to find that people often want to offer advice on the steps to take to start out in their field.

Advertising

Prepare some questions in advance, for example: ask how the person ended up in her field, what best prepared her for her career, which aspects she most enjoys, and how the field is changing.

Depending on how forthcoming the person is, you might also ask if she would mind if you sent a resume to keep on file in case of any future openings.

4. Read Job Postings

Before you apply for a job, start reading job postings in the two or three fields that excite you. You can find postings on LinkedIn, MonsterJobs, Indeed, Glassdoor, and Simply Hired. Do you feel goosebumps zipping down your spine when you read about certain jobs? It could be an indication that this is the job of your dreams.

Familiarize yourself with job descriptions to learn common industry terms, roles, and in-demand skills. Glassdoor, for example, gives you an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to work for a given company — but keep an open mind, too, knowing that former employees with a grudge are usually the most motivated to post reviews.

5. Write Your Resume

Your resume should reflect the skills you possess and the specific skills sought in a job. But be sure to customize and change your resume appropriately for each position you pursue. Don’t be afraid to parrot some of the words on the list of requirements back to the company. Many times, companies will actually use the key words mentioned in the job posting when screening resumes.

Research the organization that you are targeting and try to work in examples that have relevance to their customers or clients, or to issues taking place industry-wide. State how you can add value by quantifying results you achieved in former jobs or even volunteer activities. For example, “coordinated silent auctions for children’s advocacy organizations that brought in $29,000.”

Ideally, you will want to concisely recount your skills to make a riveting impression as a professional ideally suited for the position.

Check out these 10 Killer Resume Tips to Nail Your Dream Job.

Advertising

6. Watch a Movie or Two That Features a Character Working in the Field

While movies tend to exaggerate, you may see something that either confirms that you belong in that environment or scares you away from it. Career conflicts are a genre in themselves — you can find most any job represented in some form on the big screen.

The character played by Anne Hathaway in “The Devil Wears Prada,” who successfully navigated her nightmare boss played by Meryl Streep, showed the ups and downs of working on a fashion magazine. Meanwhile, “Legally Blonde” likely inspired a whole horde of young women to enter careers in law.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Risk

When it comes to job-hunting, the biggest risk is not taking a risk. Write a cover letter that truly reflects your own personality. Remember that you need to stand out, not just blend in to the hundreds of “blah-blah-blah” letters.

So, if you’re funny, be funny. If you’re serious, adopt a more measured tone. If you’re intellectual, use bigger words. Be you, not what you think you should be. When you’re authentic, it improves the likelihood that the career you find will be the right fit for you.

Think of ways to show passion for the career path you are pursuing — and then make the case for why it is the right fit for you. Hiring managers look for candidates with dynamism behind their desire to work for the company. Choose words that reveal that you are passionate, not passive: instead of “helpful,” your findings were “game-changing.” Instead of “useful,” your discoveries proved “transformational.”

Here’s How to Write A Cover Letter That Stands out from 500 Applicants.

8. Thank Everyone Who Helped You — and Especially Everyone Who Interviewed You

The gracious job-hunter lands a job faster. Even if you don’t snag a job the first time around, when you remember to thank the people who granted you an interview, those people will remember you and think of you for other opportunities. Thanks should also go to those who provided you with a recommendation or who took time with you for an informational interview.

While it may seem old school or downright quaint, a handwritten thank-you card still carries cachet. It shows that you took time to be appreciative. Or, if you send a note electronically, sincerely show gratitude and help the person remember you by bringing up something he said that you found helpful or insightful.

Advertising

A thank you to one person should not be able to be swapped with a communiqué to any other person who helped you in your search.

You Are on a Campaign to Land a Job until You Land the Job

You will likely have to meet several people in a company. Inevitably, those people will talk to each other. Make sure the emails that you write them are different from each other instead of canned notes with different names attached. Take a look at these tips on how to write a thank-you email.

Show unwavering cordiality and professionalism to everyone whom you encounter in the company. Even if you come across the receptionist entering the restroom at the same time as you, politely hold the door. Your good impression will travel throughout the office network.

Bonus: Return the Favor When You’ve Landed Your Job

Congratulations! You finally landed! Now it’s time to pay it forward.

Remember all those who helped you follow the key steps to your sought-after career, and never pass up an opportunity to help others land jobs they love.

Returning the favor will make you even more appreciative of having found the right career for you. And, when you look for your next job, you will find that you’ve built a network of helpful people on whom you can rely.

More Job Hunting Tips

Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next