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Too late for a career change?

Published: Monday 23rd March 2020

Statistics say that 80% of us feel trapped in the wrong job. Unfortunately, this realisation doesn’t happen until we’ve been in the same career for years. Sometimes, even decades. While it’s reasonably easy to make a career move in your 20’s or 30’s, what about when you’re in your 40’s or even over 50’s? 

There are few jobs for life anymore 

Young businessman in modern office with carton box. Thinking over his next career move or career change.

As it stands, the workforce is working longer and the retirement age is set to rise in line with longevity. Over their working life, employees are more likely to work for a number of employers and switch jobs several times or more. It’s not unrealistic to imagine that school leavers today could still be working when they’re 70. This means that people are more likely to want to make a career change during that time. 

But career change at any stage of life can be daunting. Fortunately, for those that take that leap of faith, it’s nearly always a positive experience. People that make a career move do so because they’re unfulfilled where they are. Find a role that you love and it can be life-changing. So much so, that some people do it more than once. Skills learned in a previous career are transferable into a new one. So, in many cases, you aren’t so much changing career, as upskilling for the future.  

Career advice for older workers seeking a change 

Senior woman with trainer in front of laptop computer. Career change and new start concept

At 40, arguably, you have half your working life still ahead of you and it’s also an age when a lot of people take stock. Even at 50, you’ve a shed-load of experience under your belt and, potentially, another 15 years before retirementUnfortunately, that doesn’t mean it will be easy.  

The key to a successful career change, no matter what age you are, is to know what you want, do your research, make a plan and get the training/skills needed to make you employable. Don’t fire off a resignation email to your boss the day you decide it’s time for a career move – unless of course, you have a lot of money in the bank. You may have a lot of work to do, not to mention a lot of interviews to attend before you finally start your new career. Start small, research your options, get the skills you need and, if possible, volunteer to get some experience. 

There are jobs out there for you 

I love my job concept. Cup with hot coffee on grey table

When it comes to those interviews, if you don’t have specific experience in the job you applying for, frame your accomplishments in a way that demonstrates that you’re committed to succeeding. You may have to take a salary cut and, depending on the scale of your career move, you might have to start out at the bottom and work your way up. 

No career is a straight line from A to B and it’s never too late to make a change. But it can be done. There are plenty of examples out there. Look at Ronald Reagan. Before becoming President of the US at 69, he had a long career as an actorOlder candidates comes with benefits for employees. Life and work experience are invaluable and employers that fail to see that are missing out. 

Visit our online career guides to research the right career move for you. And when you’re ready, search Zoek jobs for the best opportunities.  

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