How To Successfully Make A Career Change Late In Life

April 18, 2018  |  

Credit: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Deciding on the right career path is never an easy task, nor is it one that is set in stone. While our parents and their parents before them, may have picked a career or even a company that they stuck with for years, times have most definitely changed. Gone are the days when the decision you made on the career front in your early 20s sticks with you until retirement. And, honestly, that’s probably a good thing. With so many opportunities available and so many avenues to truly take hold of your destiny and follow your deepest passions, why wouldn’t you consider a career change if the spirit moves you?

But that can certainly be easier said than done, especially if you’ve been out of the career hustle game for a while.

As many of us progress in our careers, there is a degree of complacency that sets in. That’s not to say that you lose the drive to succeed or rise up the ranks. There is no doubt that whether we’re looking for that first big break after college or are looking to make the big step to partner, department head or company CEO, many of us have an ambition and drive that is hard to stop (#blackgirlmagic #hustlehard). But, when it comes to making a career pivot, to leave behind the industry that you know so well to embark on a completely different course, it can be really daunting. Even more so if your decision to change things up is coming a little later in life. But with that said, there are a number of tactics that can be employed to ensure you’re successful in your newfound career.

1. Pursue Something You’re Interested In: This might seem exceptionally obvious, but hear us out. Don’t run to the first alternative career that flies into your Linkedin inbox from a recruiter. Whether you’re miserable at your current job and desperately looking for a change or even if you’re satisfied with your current gig but just want to try something new, make sure you’re pursuing it for the right reasons. Sometimes it’s tempting to just follow those dollars signs or jump on the bandwagon of an industry that, regardless of whether or not you’re interested in it, seems like it could potentially be lucrative. Making a career change after you’ve been in the workforce for some time is not a decision to be made lightly. And ultimately you want to have a passion and a deep-seeded desire to pursue whatever your next career is. Getting motivated to try something new and put yourself out there is no easy task, so don’t you want it to be something that truly makes you want to get up in the morning and get to work?

2. Consider The Side Hustle/Test Case to Full Swap Approach: As much as we’ve all dreamed about the day that we can walk into work, tell everyone where to go and how to get there and embark on an all-new and highly successful career journey, let’s make sure to add a dose of realism to the mix. It would be a real challenge for most of us to quit a job that has worked for us for the past several years or even decades to just dive in there and try something new. So whether you decide to start things off as a side hustle to see how they go or you do some due diligence by taking classes and just dipping your toe into the waters of a new profession, we can’t stress the importance of making sure you do the legwork needed to make the right decision. Of course, nothing is guaranteed and there is always the chance that you might not love the career that you’ve decided to pursue, but at least you won’t regret not doing your homework.

3. Make Sure You Have A Safety Net: This piece of advice isn’t simply for those who really embrace the second career and decide to start their own business and be their own boss. This is for even those who just leap into a different industry. As we’ve already discussed, nothing is guaranteed and sometimes as much as you think you’re going to love this new career it might not work out for you. So with that said, you want to be sure that you aren’t left high and dry if you need to make a hasty exit and think of a plan C. So make sure you’ve got a decent savings going, a rainy day fund of sorts that if you need to give yourself a little more time to figure out your next move, you have it comfortably and without the heavy pressure of bills and other financial responsibilities knocking down your door. Be smart, plan for the worst along with the best and make sure that you’ve got some wiggle room if you need it. Sometimes if things don’t go as planned, a little downtime while you regroup is exactly what is needed.

4. Don’t Be So Quick To Give Up: From the time we were children, we always knew that whether we were the new person in class, the new kid in the neighborhood or the latest hire at work, there is a notable and oftentimes uncomfortable transition period. It’s hard to not know anyone, to be lost, to not know your way around. And it can make even a great job feel terrible. But if you’ve made the decision to pursue another career and you’ve gone that far, then you owe it to yourself to give it your all and give it time. We’re definitely not saying that you should stick with it for years on end if it’s not fulfilling the hopes and dreams you had when you embarked on this journey. But if you’re a month in and are seriously thinking about returning to your old gig, pause yourself and give it some serious thought. Remember that you wouldn’t have made the decision to try something new if you didn’t actually believe that was what you wanted to do. So give yourself a chance to succeed and we promise you won’t regret it.

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