A career change at 50 years old can increase your peace of mind, passion and activity levels. If your current career doesn't satisfy you, changing fields can provide new challenges and relationships that will boost your work satisfaction. It's important, however, to know how to make that switch to ensure you get the desired results in your new occupation. In this article, we discuss how to change careers at 50, the advantages of doing so and how to overcome disadvantages.
Tips for making a career change at 50
Regardless of your reasons for swapping careers after 50, these tips can make the transition easier:
Think about more than money
When making a career change at 50, money may not be the most important factor in your choice of occupation. Equally or even more important are your health, personal satisfaction, impact on society and self-actualization.
Changing careers at a later age can bring unintended consequences, but it is important not to allow fear and negative emotions to discourage you from achieving your career goals. You may need the support of your family and friends, but do your best to persevere through the fear.
It is crucial to have realistic expectations when setting career goals to ensure you derive optimal satisfaction from your new job.
Update your skills
If you want to change careers, consider updating your skills and credentials now so it will be easier to transition later.
Be open to working with younger people
You may be in charge at your old job, but changing careers at 50 may require working with younger people. Some of your younger colleagues may hold senior positions and have divergent views. To succeed in the new role, try to accept feedback from your team members to better learn your new field.
How to make a career change at 50
Changing careers at 50 requires several definitive steps:
Perform a self-assessment.Determine the career you want to pursue.Identify the requirements of the new career.Rebrand your professional image.Create a career plan.Create powerful resumes.Be patient and positive.
1. Perform a self-assessment
The first step is to assess yourself and what you want in your next career. Find out what makes work interesting to you. A career counselor can guide you toward making the right career decision. Factors to consider include your age, health, retirement plans, skills and qualifications. At the end of the self-assessment, create a list of potential occupations and careers for further research.
2. Determine the career you want to pursue
After making a list of careers, narrow it down to one or two options. Before you select an occupation, research each of the positions to identify the one that best suits your interests, experience and skills. Some factors to consider include the career prospects of each job, the projected growth of the industry and the effect of technology on jobs in the coming years.
Another factor to consider is the earning potential. While money may not be your primary motivator for changing careers, you may still need the new occupation to pay bills and save for retirement.
It's best to pick a career that allows you to transfer skills from your previous job. That way, you won't need to spend extensive time and money on training and certification. Job satisfaction surveys can also help you determine whether the occupation is a good fit for you.
Here are more tips for helping to determine what you want to do:
Look for similarities
Many industries have functions that overlap. If you can't find a career that suits your skills and interests, look for similarities between the responsibilities of your former and new careers. Different fields often use the same management practices, although there might be slight differences.
Things like project management, organization, computer skills, interpersonal relations and integrity cut across diverse fields. If you can find common grounds, it becomes easier to select a new career where you can thrive and achieve your goals.
Take your time
Avoid rushing into choosing a different career because you are unsatisfied with your current position. It is better to take your time to research all your options and weigh the pros and cons of each career compared to your present job.
You may need to make concessions to achieve your aims when making a career change at 50. If you want to change careers to have more time for family and recreational activities, an ideal job may offer less pay but more free time. You may also need to move to another town or state, take up more responsibilities and even go back to school. A new career may require sacrifices, and this requires some flexibility from you.
Being flexible also means not restricting yourself to a specific work. The most viable occupation that matches your skills and experience may offer only part-time or contract employment. You can start with that to gain a foothold in the industry. After some time, you will build a network and have access to more opportunities.
Leverage your network
At 50, you may have already built an extensive network of colleagues, friends, relatives and acquaintances over the years. Informing these people about your plans to change careers could provide several opportunities.
3. Identify the requirements of the new career
Once you've chosen a career, determine what you need to enter the profession. Research the educational qualifications, certifications, licenses and other regulatory requirements of the occupation. You can check recent job ads for the specific skills and credentials employers in the industry want to see in candidates.
Another way to research a career is to shadow professionals in the industry and ask them for details about getting into the industry. The information you get from this research can give you an idea of the time and cost of entering a new career.
4. Rebrand your professional image
Once you've decided on a new career, it is important to rebrand your professional image to meet the expectations of the new field. Learn the industry language and practices, and rewrite your online profiles to make them more relevant.
This is the time to become active in the preferred social media space of your new career. Contributing to discussions and networking on social media can give your career prospects a powerful boost. Meet new people and let them know of your availability.
5. Create a career plan
Once you've positioned yourself as a professional looking to make a career switch, outline a plan. It is advisable to create short- and long-term goals you want to achieve considering your age, health and other factors that can impact your ability to continue working.
A good way to go about this is to have a file to organize potential employers, job ads, resumes, interview dates, networking events and other activities. This will make your job search efforts orderly and allow you to track your progress.
6. Create powerful resumes
You need a professional resume to promote yourself as the best candidate for jobs. This means having impeccable writing in your resume and knowing the correct format recruiters expect. Writing resumes requires tailoring each document to the specific requirements of each position.
It is vital to research each job ad and the employer before writing your resume to identify their core competencies and requirements. This will allow you to craft resumes that highlight your most relevant skills and show you as the best fit for the role.
7. Be patient and positive
When you apply for jobs, remain positive if it takes time to get a position. During this period, surround yourself with positive energy and engage in activities that move you closer to your goals. This can help ensure that you can deliver your responsibilities when you eventually get the position.
Advantages of making a career change at 50
Here are some benefits of changing careers at 50:
Switching careers at 50 can provide an opportunity to attain the highest level of professional achievement for many people. Many older people have gathered immense experience and expertise over the years, and changing careers allows them to choose an occupation or position where they can use their skills to deliver the best results and enjoy higher job satisfaction.
Another benefit of changing careers is reduced stress. Despite the perks attached to senior positions, many older professionals can't continue to work at the highest level because of stress and other demands on their lives. Leaving such a position for a low-stress environment can offer more value than a lucrative salary for some.
New learning opportunities
New careers offer people the opportunity to learn new things. It might be working with high-tech equipment, learning to code, using data to make decisions or collaborating with the younger generation. The prospects of learning something new can add more excitement to work, increase job satisfaction and help you create new relationships.
A new career can help you pursue your passion. At the beginning of their careers, many people don't know what drives them. As people get older, they have more clarity about their purpose, desires and activities that will give their lives meaning. For many people, going into another industry is the best route to making a career out of their passion.
How to overcome disadvantages when making a career change at 50
Here are things you can do to overcome the challenges of switching careers as a 50-year-old professional:
1. Keep learning
To make sure you are a viable job candidate, stay current on new information in the field. Read books, attend industry events, take online courses and stay open to new knowledge. Learn digital skills and be adaptable to the use of new technology at work.
2. Cultivate friendships across generations
If you intend to switch careers, build long-lasting friendships that cut across generations. Older people may have more authority in the industry, but younger generations allow you to use leadership and mentorship skills and help you stay on top of new developments.
3. Update your resumes
Keep your resumes up-to-date to improve the chances of getting hired. Optimize your resumes with the correct format acceptable to recruiters and make them compliant with applicant tracking systems. Keep your age and other private information confidential.
4. Focus on the positives
In discussions with recruiters and hiring managers, consider your age as an advantage. If the subject comes up, use it to boost your credentials in terms of the experience, achievements and qualifications you have earned over the years.