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A career change at 40+ – how to make it happen

If you’re 40, 50 or older and wondering, ‘Is it too late to change careers?’, chances are the answer is no! Whether you’re desperate to leave your current job, or you’re just itching to try something new – changing careers can sometimes be exactly what you need. And the good news is, it could just take the right attitude to get the ball rolling – no matter how under-qualified you may think you are.

According to Isabelle Myers Briggs, the development of personality occurs in two phases throughout life:

  1. For someone who is young, the main task is to develop use of their preferred mental functions.
  2. As we mature and approach midlife, there is often a need to develop greater comfort with using your non-preferences. This can help you increase your performance at work, and increase your ability to deal with different people and circumstances. It can also trigger the need for a change be it a work, rest or play or a mix.

So whether you buy a flash car, launch your own business, change partners or learn a new hobby, rest assured it is part of you growing as an individual and needing to express other sides of your personality.

So what should you think about when looking for a career change?

Be happy

1. What makes you happy?

  • †††Well firstly try and figure out what makes you happy at work – and pursue it for that new career at 40 plus. So are you a natural born leader? Do you love being creative or problem solving?? Have you realised you like the people side rather than the data side of your role more over time?
  • Take your personality type test (MBTI) to understand your preferences and what careers they may suit. Then think about your strengths and areas for development, do you need to retrain?
  • Discover what retraining at 40, 50, 60 or above means. Will you have to go back to uni to get a degree, or is all the experience you’ve picked up enough to land you your dream job? You’ll also discover unexpected career options after 40+.
  • Just remember be honest. You don’t have to BS anymore. So, if you like working on your own – in your own headspace – that’s okay, too. Now, make the small part of your job you enjoy the most the main aspect of your new career.
Goal mapping to stay on course

2. Start with the end in mind

When you get home from your new career and switch on Netflix to unwind, what do you want to have achieved that day? Is it to earn more money? Contribute to society? Making something with your bare hands? Visualise that thing – or feeling –and it’ll help you achieve it.

Try Brian Mayne’s Goal Mapping template…it’s free and really focusses the mind

Retraining can seem daunting

3. Get stuck in and start learning

Retraining at 40+ can feel daunting, but you know by now how you learn best. Want a break from the office? You could go back to university as a mature student. Or if you are more the hands-on type – Learn on the job and do consider an internship, it’ll give you the foot in the door you need. Just look at fast food chain McDonald’s, where trainee franchisees put in a shift making fries along with the fresh-faced teens.

Worried your degree isn’t relevant to your new job? Don’t. Many employers value experience more than the letters after your name and you’ll be surprised by how many of your skills – taught at uni or on the shop floor – are transferable. Just make sure you bring them to life on your CV and in interviews.

Networking both on and offline is key

4. Networking is key

You’ve met more people, shaken more hands and done more deals than the 25-year-old you. Use this experience and network with colleagues and acquaintances. They can give you pointers about breaking into a new industry – and might even put in a good word for you. And don’t be shy. Would you mind if someone asked your expertise about getting into your profession? LinkedIn is a great place to find and connect with people in the area you are pursuing. People often want to help you’ll be surprised.

5. Should you stay or should you go?

Your new career could be closer than you think. Like around-the-next-corner close. If your boss values you and your skills above a job title, they might be willing to invest in your personal development to help you change roles within the company. He or she might even create a new position just for you. So, before you press send on that company-wide email – the one with a massive V-sign made out of dashes and brackets – swing by your boss’s office for a chat you never know what could be right before your eyes.

6. Consider your finances

Changing careers might mean taking a pay cut – especially if you’ve been in your current career for a long time.

So, being financially prepared to (potentially) start from the bottom is essential.

Firstly, find out what the salary expectations for your new career will be, so you can understand exactly how much you’ll need for a smooth transition. Then, make the necessary changes in advance – whether it’s adding to your savings accordingly, or looking at ways to supplement your income.

That doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and jump into something straight away though. Instead, test ideas whilst you’re still at your current job to get an idea of what actually suits you – in terms of working environment and job role.

Because whether it’s by taking a course, or volunteering, or by gaining insights from friends in your preferred field – there are many ways to test the waters without diving into a new job at the deep end.

That way, you’ll be able to make sure your career change is worth it – and, more importantly, actually right for you.

Volunteer to give something a try whilst your still in your day job?

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