Age is just a number. You’re not a number you’re a great candidate!
How to approach a career change at 40 plus.
What would make you really happy? If you could switch jobs now, what would inspire and interest you enough to make you want to rise early and go to work with enthusiasm and a sense of purpose every day?
Perhaps you think it’s too late? It might be true that given the years of study it requires, the career in law you wish you had pursued is now out of reach, but with a bit of thought you might find a related role in which you can use the wealth of skills and abilities you have built up over the years as you took a different direction.
Self belief is where this re-evaluation process has to start. To tell yourself that you can’t achieve your goal is to admit defeat before trying. The fear of failure can induce failure, and before you know it you’re on a downward spiral without giving yourself a fighting chance. Don’t waste time on regrets and start your positive thinking journey now. Sometimes we just have to dare to dream.
Take stock and think laterally
So, you know what you should have done twenty years ago. At forty plus it might be too late to start your career as an athlete or psychologist, but maybe you could still become an athletics mentor or train to become a counsellor; both roles in which experience is valued over youth. It’s time to look at the offshoot careers. Consider the length of the academic courses you might need to do, along with any further training, internships or voluntary work that are expected to achieve your goal. Also consider if at the end of the process you will have the competitive edge against other twenty-something applicants. Does the profession you are considering value experience, or is it associated primarily with younger graduates? If the role fits into this stereotype, would you really be happy working in that environment anyway? This is the time to take a step back and look objectively at career paths, and in turn to look inwards at where you are right now, and where you would feel comfortable in being in the future.
In the UK, despite anti-discrimination laws, age can be viewed in a negative way. In comparison with for example Japan, where life expectancy is longer and culturally age is associated with wisdom, the UK workplace can seem like an unnecessarily biased environment. To build your confidence and gain that psychological edge, don’t be above asking for help to bring about the change you desire. Attend career development seminars, approach CV writing services, job coaches and employment counsellors. Other opinions are invaluable, and professional job search personnel might be able to help you take a step back and see the opportunities you are missing by being too close to the problem.
Ask yourself if this is the right time to make a radical career change. It’s a big step and other aspects of your life need to be stable in order for you to focus all your energies on your career. While you make the transition, maybe you will need to take on a low stress part time job to keep afloat financially. Temporary work as a means to an end could help you pay for a professional development course, and if the work is in any way related to your new career, then that’s even better! Your transferable skills are building all the time.
Keep a sense of perspective
To bring clarity and insight, write a list of all your skills and achievements relevant to your dream job. Start a blog or a website related to where you aspire to be. This will also help with job applications and will build your credibility in the profession. Talk to people already working in your chosen career both in person and online. If possible attend relevant networking events. Start to say ‘yes’ to opportunities coming your way, you never know where they might lead. Often your career path unfolds naturally, but if the direction feels wrong, accept that it’s a mistake and take a sideways step. Don’t dwell on mistakes or obsess for too long about making a decision. Constantly worrying about what might go wrong will not help. Life is full of uncertainties and while you spend time worrying you could be missing an opportunity. Lead an interesting life, socialise and seek out different experiences and people. It will help you to decide where and what you want to be, and if nothing else it will make life much more entertaining.
While you go through this transition keep things in perspective. Look at this new experience in a positive way, it’s an exciting time and this could be your best year yet! Learn to bounce back when things get tough, and be prepared to make sacrifices because you know that your future happiness and success are worth the struggle. Be resilient and strong. Find your niche and sell your unique self to the best of your abilities.
Sell yourself, be yourself
Finally, create your own success by offering your skills speculatively to employers. Make doors open by suggesting how your skills might benefit their organisation. Be polite, professional and warm, and try not to take it personally if your ideas are not accepted. Putting so much emphasis on every attempt creates too much pressure. Yes it’s important, but at the end of the day it’s just a job. Show enthusiasm and charisma and enjoy the process of meeting the people you might be working with soon. If they like you but can’t employ you for whatever reason, they might be able to suggest other departments or workplaces you might try. Look at it as a networking exercise rather than as employers assessing you. If you can do the job and come across as being good to be around you are more than half way there. Why would they not want to work with you? As in all things there are no guarantees, but a calculated risk taken now could mean a look back with no regrets in the future. Surely it’s worth taking your best shot at achieving this today?