Nothing’s quite as tough as navigating the big question of “what do I want to do with my life.” This is often a puzzling place for college students to be, but this conundrum may follow you into adulthood as well! If you’ve been in a rut when it comes to your career and are looking for another path that will bring you more joy, look no further. Though it may be a personal challenge, we’re here to help you navigate a mid-life career change.
**Photo by: Andrea Piacquadio
Determine Why You Want a Change
Finding what truly makes you happy can be difficult, especially if you’re not satisfied with your current position but can’t quite put your finger on why. Taking some time to think deeply and determine why you’re dissatisfied with your current job is incredibly important when deciding your next step. Knowing what you don’t like will guide you when looking for your next employer and career.
Some of the more significant causes of work dissatisfaction stem from:
- Being underpaid
- A lack of work/life balance
- Little room for growth
- Unsupportive/bad management
- Inadequate amounts of PTO
- A weak company culture
This can cause employees to lose motivation and grow frustrated with their position at the company. Whether your discontent comes from a lack of benefits like work-life balance or just a growing disinterest in the day-to-day work itself, it’s never too late to start over when it comes to your career.
Look Inwards and Pinpoint New Paths
If you’re at a crossroads with what you want to pursue, you can identify a new direction by looking inward at what qualities you possess, the day-to-day tasks or hobbies you enjoy, and what your motivations are. Taking an in-depth personality quiz that mixes Myers and Brigg’s personality types with career paths could help get the ball rolling. You should consider speaking with a career counselor to find your next path, as they’re equipped to assess your personality, skills, and motivations to pinpoint your best career options.
Diving into research on different industries online and even combing through job applications to determine what each profession’s day-to-day tasks look like is very beneficial! You can set up times to talk with your friends or peers in different careers, and pick their brains about their own work environment and fulfillment. These steps will help you identify your dream career and make strides towards landing the job!
Sometimes, embarking on a new career change can lead you towards the path of starting your own business venture. Being your own boss comes with many perks, like creating your own schedule and making all the important decisions. You may want to open your own restaurant, scale your side art hustle, or start a clothing boutique. Whatever the case may be, if you’re serious about this option, you can get the ball rolling by searching for retail spaces to lease, getting a POS system for optimal productivity, creating a detailed business plan, and exploring financing options. It may be incredibly beneficial to speak with a small business consultant who can guide you through the nitty-gritty details while also saving you time and money.
**Photo by: Tim Mossholder
Gather New Skills and Qualifications
With a new industry or company change comes new challenges. While there may be career opportunities that are easier to reach with your current qualifications, you may need to learn a few new skills if you’re looking to make a more significant switch. Some skills can be learned on the job, while others may have technical prerequisites for the position you’re seeking. If your new dream leans towards the latter, you may want to consider going back to school.
Whether this means getting a graduate degree, pursuing trade school, or just signing up for individual online classes, this is a great way to get motivated all over again. This will put you ahead during the job application process and help you stand out from the crowd. Another option is applying for paid or adult internships (sometimes referred to as “returnships”) or pursuing apprenticeships to get better acquainted with the daily workings of a company and a position.
Stay on the Job Hunt
When you’ve gathered all the qualifications you need and determined what position you want to pursue, it’s full steam ahead! Applying for jobs is a process and can be challenging at times, especially if response rates are low. Remember to stay organized and keep yourself accountable when aspiring toward a new career goal. Some of the best tips to help stand out from the crowd are to:
- Craft an engaging cover letter and resume: Make sure to cater your application towards the qualifications each company has laid out and use confident language. Outline the impact of your work experience with facts and figures. Add some personality to your cover letter to catch their eye while still remaining professional.
- Expand your personal network online: Building your profile online through LinkedIn, for example, can draw recruiters in and give you a way to connect with professionals in the industry. You can also find hiring managers on these platforms and reach out to them directly about positions you are interested in.
- Showcase your work: Whether you’re a writer with samples of your work or a designer with mockups to present, making sure you have a place to showcase your work is incredibly important. Revamp your portfolio or personal website, making sure it’s up-to-date, and attach this link to your resume and applications! The more visibility of your personality and quality of work, the better!
Once you’ve tackled these steps, continue to network with everyone possible. Send messages on LinkedIn to industry professionals and ask for informational meetings about their company or position. Attend job fairs and networking events wherever possible and continue showing your passion and motivation, as it will get you far. Talking to people and getting over your nerves will prepare you well for forthcoming interviews as well! As much as your qualifications and skill sets matter, showcasing your personality and how your presence will add to the culture of the company will make a huge difference as well.
**Photo by: Cytonn Photography
Staying Confident and Motivated
Once you’ve landed some interviews and potentially received some job offers, make sure to remain confident and ask for what you need. Don’t sell yourself short when it comes to salary and ask all the important questions. Look for a company with good benefits, especially if you have health concerns, and make sure that they’re going to invest in your growth long-term. Make sure that their beliefs align with yours and that what they offer checks all the boxes; remember, there was a reason that you left your last position and you don’t want to repeat any negative experiences moving forward.
Changing careers may be a hard jump financially, especially if the pay grade is different within your new profession. It can help to estimate your new salary and try to live off of this (or less) for a few months to see if it’s possible You may need to rework your budget or make sacrifices in spending habits. If you’re looking to make a bigger jump and move cities or states, you may want to secure a pre approved mortgage to determine how much you can afford to spend on a house. It may be financially beneficial to downsize and find a house with affordable payments depending on your new salary. You can also sell some assets like your car if you’re moving to a big city or expecting a lower salary with this new profession. Money isn’t everything, so finding a company and career that brings you happiness will be much more valuable to you in the long run.
Changing your career after being in an industry for so long may lead to feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. Though this is true, when you’ve finally found the perfect place for you, the mid-life career change will seem worth all of the effort and you’ll finally find a huge level of motivation again. Keep in mind that it’s never too late to search for a career that brings you joy.