Age is just a number

Age is just a number. You’re not a number you’re a great candidate!

How to approach a career change at 40 plus.

nothing is impossible


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.


Seek advice


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?


Facing Redundancy

As far as the “Worst Things to Happen to a Person” top ten, aside from death and divorce, being made redundant probably ranks pretty high. If you have been working for a firm for a long time, maybe since you left school even, then it may be a serious shock to the system.
On the flip side to this, you may have taken voluntary redundancy as a prelude to early or at least semi-retirement, in either case, there are several steps you should take. Always best to strike whilst the iron is hot, so to speak, or at least whilst you are still feeling quite motivated.

Perhaps the first consideration is how this change affects you financially. If you have several years with a company, maybe you are being offered a generous package, which is good, but it is still worth checking your finances. First port of call is usually the Jobcentre and the possibility of getting access to some public funds. Over the years, I have heard some terrific urban myths about how to qualify for Job Seekers Allowance…get the facts, this is the time to cash in your National Insurance payments.

Still motivated? Then this is a good time to get your CV up and running – have a look through some of the articles related on this site for guidance, or better yet, give me a call for advice.
Your CV is possibly the single-most important tool in your job hunting tool kit and should be up to date and instantly available so that you don’t miss any closing dates.
Perhaps just as important as getting your CV up to date is knowing what you want to do now.

Redundancy could be viewed negatively but for those “glass half full” people, redundancy is more of a crossroads, so you might want to take stock of your situation and really decide what you would like to do from here on. Do you dream of a change? Could you do a course to get your foot on the ladder of your career change? This is perhaps the best chance you will get to do something like this (maybe your only chance!) A friend of mine found himself in a similar position – he did a one week crash course in plastering (the heart wants what it wants!) and it was enough to get his own business going – you get the idea.
The thing to remember about suddenly being presented with a drastic change in your routine is that once the two week “holiday” period is over, or in other words, once it has sunk in that you are now without work, is that you need to stay highly motivated if you are to get back into work quickly. It has often been said that getting a job is a full time job in itself, so make sure that you work out a good schedule of activity that covers Monday to Friday
(it doesn’t all have to be work, work, work though!)

Now is the time to call in as many favours as possible, all your contacts from your personal and business life are potential marketers for you, get your Facebook account updated with your news, Twitter, LinkedIn…these are all your tools to get your talent out there to be found by your next boss. If you haven’t been on the job market for a number of years, you may find that the world of recruitment is a different landscape.

Dave Smith Careers Visa

Dave Smith of Career Visa UK is our leading authority when it comes to personal careers advice.

He has worked in the UK recruitment industry since 1991 and is now an expert Jobsearch Consultant specialising in CV creation and improvement. If you need help in preparing to enter the Job Market for the first time or are planning on a career change – simply get in touch via his website You can also read more at his online blog at