Making the decision to change careers at any stage during your life can feel both exciting and daunting. There are many reasons you might be thinking about a change in your career – stress, work/life balance or lack of fulfilment. Whatever your reason and no matter your age, armed with the right knowledge and tools, you can step into a new role that is more aligned with your interests and values.
Here at Transitioning Well, we specialise in navigating life transitions in the workplace. Our national team of psychologists develop and promote best practice strategies and tailored solutions across the employment life cycle. Recently, we spoke to Noble Oak to share some expert advice on how to make a successful career transition in your 40s and beyond.
Top 3 things to do when considering a career change
Whether you grab a journal or scour the internet for tools to guide your reflection – think about your values and strengths, and what you want to achieve by making this change.
Leverage your network
Go beyond your immediate friends and family and find out who they are connected with; diversity is key in both exploring options and landing something new.
For most people there are many ways to achieve what they want; so stay open to less obvious paths to get what you want out of your career.
Mistakes to avoid when making a career change
Waiting too long
“The biggest mistake is waiting too long to make a change. Delay leads to several problems” (Holmes et al, 1994):
- Changing jobs becomes harder: whether the changes are functional or radical, previous job mobility is strongly related to future mobility.
- The focus becomes leaving: often people stay in a job long after they’ve stopped loving it. The motivation then revolves around getting away from the pain rather than excitement about what’s ahead.
- External drivers take over: moving sooner keeps you in control rather than being pushed out by changes in the company, industry or economy.
Failing to plan
The other big mistake people make is failing to plan. Like any other life transition, research tells us that planning is key to making a successful career change. (Schlossberg, 2007).
How easy is it to upskill for a new career?
There are challenges to upskilling, particularly as you get older, however, it is important to note that challenges for older people are NOT declining cognitive ability or motivation as stereotypes would have us believe. Older people can learn new skills when they see the relevance and the training is designed using adult learning principles. In fact, the ARC CEPAR (2019) reported that more than 90 per cent of mature employees surveyed were actively developing their capabilities.
External challenges include:
- Employers not providing older workers with training opportunities (ARC CEPAR report 2019).
- Companies being reactive in their training, rather than investing in skills that set their people up for the future.
- Focus on formal training rather than leveraging other options such as mentoring.
Personal challenges include:
- Developing the wrong skills; ones that will become less relevant in the future or that don’t build on your existing strengths and interests.
- Finding sufficient time, money and energy to invest so that you can fully master new skills.
- Waiting for employer funded training instead of taking ownership of your own development.
For more expert advice how to plan for a successful career transition, take a look at the full article on the Noble Oak website.