Changing Careers Later in Life

by McKenzie Chapman   Ulticareer  | Goals  | Advice  | Opportunity  | New perspective  | Career decision  | Job satisfaction  | 

If you’ve been following your blog, you’ll have read the story by Sue about her late life career change. Her personal story is an inspiring read about taking a change and putting in hard work.

People change careers many times throughout their lives. It’s never too late to start something new. It’s not uncommon to go through a career change at 50. Making a significant career change takes courage, perseverance, and a genuine interest in your new career path. So if you think you need a new career, then don’t be afraid of a career switch!

Here are some tips for navigating a late life career change:

1. Don’t be afraid of failure

You’ll likely stumble many times on your new journey. You can’t let this deter you. Changing careers will be a challenge, but the following tips can help you get through it, as long as you’re prepared to keep working through failure.

2. Be flexible

Although you shouldn’t give up, this doesn’t mean you should blindly plow through your plan. You need to actively evaluate and reevaluate your progress, timeline, and future goals when you’re switching careers. If something isn’t working, you need to recognize that and adjust. Things never turn out exactly as we plan, so it’s important to be flexible so that you can keep working and not break down as soon as the first pressure arrives.

3. Consider how this new path impacts society

The most meaningful careers are ones that make a difference. As people age, they tend to realize this more fully. The desire to leave a positive impact on the world grows stronger with time, so it’s important to consider this when you’re looking to change careers. Either seek out a career you feel directly impacts society, or reflect on how your chosen career has a positive contribution, even if it’s not always obvious. Knowing the difference your career can make will help motivate you on your new path.

4. There are many paths in your career

Careers are no longer a straight line. With the gig economy, many people have several different jobs or projects they’re working on at the same time. A career doesn’t have to mean getting promotion after promotion at the same company or even in the same industry. Building your career can mean learning new skills and completing projects across a variety of sectors. Nowadays, a career really means developing your proficiency at things you enjoy that you can successfully profit from. When you’re thinking about starting a new career later in life, consider if you want to start from scratch, or make shifts based on the skills you’ve already mastered.

5. Get educated

With a late in life career change, it’s important that you stay relevant. Educate yourself by reading industry news, connecting with people in the industry, updating your social media profiles, and enroll in classes if you need to learn new skills.

6. What side projects have inspired you?

Consider the different aspects of your various jobs and projects over the years; what have you enjoyed the most? What has sparked a passion in you and consumed your time and thoughts? If possible, pinpoint what that’s been throughout your life and find interesting careers that focus on that. Choosing a career is just as important as pursuing it.

7. Your career isn’t your life

Recognize that your career should not consume your life. It’s a cliché, but it’s true: you work to live, you don’t live to work. Make sure that you’re trying your best at this new career, but remember to not give it everything you have. You also need to save some of your time for your family, friends, health, and other activities you enjoy!

8. Meet new people

Since you’re beginning a new career, you’ll be branching out of your existing network. Actively seek out new people in your new career path. You can find a support system, mentors, friends, and potential leads. It can be intimidating trying to break into a group of new people who probably already have connections among them, and this is something you’re sure to run up against with a late life career change. But you’ve met many people throughout the years, have decades of experience under your belt, and you should feel confident about meeting new people.

9. Know your motivations

When you know what drives you, it will be easier to keep going when you hit a roadblock. Reflect on why you’re making a career change late in life. When you’re able to have concrete reasons why you’re taking the leap, you can use your motivations as a mantra to keep you going when you’re challenged.

10. Recognize your skills

You’ve been working your entire life, and you’ve developed an impressive skillset along the way. It might not always be obvious how or which of your skills will translate to your new career, but transfer they will. If you look at your experience from a new perspective, you may be surprised at all that you have to offer.

With confidence, hard work, and interest, your mid life career change is sure to be a success. Remember to be flexible on your journey, and have an open mind when things don’t go quite as planned.

Have you changed careers late in life? What was the transition like for you? What’s the best career advice you’ve received? Share your career change advice, and any careers you’ve had in the past, at UltiCareer and let students, or anyone, get to know what your type of job is really like.


on UltiCareer to help others on their job search, get to know what your type of job is really like.

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