When writing this blog about career changes, I was hesitant to put an age on it. After all, 40 isn't old and it doesn't mean that your career options are more limited. The thing is that when you change careers in your twenties and thirties, it's often done before you've climbed very far up the ladder. In your forties, however, making a career change can be a bit more risky.
If you're thinking about changing careers, here are 10 steps to help you along the way:
- Decide if you really need a career change - If you aren't happy in your current job, maybe there are ways to make things more exciting or more satisfying. Maybe there are some changes you can make that will help. If you're serious about the change, you can discuss options with your boss and find a way to make things better. However, in some situations, a change is necessary. It's important to know the difference.
- Write out your goals - Before you start looking, it helps to write out what your goals are. Are you trying to be happier? What professional goals do you hope to accomplish. From there, you will have a better idea about where to begin. This process doesn't have to take long, just writing a "mission statement" that lays out what you are looking for will give you clarity and will also give you something to refer back to when considering new options.
- Assess your career accomplishments - Make a list of the things you've accomplished so far in your life, not just in your career. These accomplishments can give you some ideas about what sort of change you need.
- Make a list of your skills and talents - Next, write down all of your skills and talents. Don't worry about sounding silly here, it's just for your own reference. Also, don't overlook skills that you have but that don't relate to your current job. Sometimes we have skills that can help us find the right job, but we overlook them because they aren't related to the job we currently have.
- Think about the things you enjoy - Write down your hobbies and also think about times in the past when you have been asked to work on projects that you really enjoy. These will also give you a clearer idea of what sort of jobs would be most fulfilling for you.
- Do some research - Once you have a clear idea of what you want, do some research and find out about jobs that would meet your criteria. Find out what experience and training you would need to qualify for them and what the average salary is.
- Narrow your focus - Now that you have done the research, you can narrow down your list to just a couple of careers that you are interested in. From there, you can focus on just those jobs.
- Learn new skills - Since you have a list of jobs you are interested in, start forming a plan to learn the skills you need to qualify for them. You might be able to take a class or two or invest a year or two into getting a different degree.
- Network, network, network - Never underestimate the power of networking. Get to know others who are working in your desired fields and ask them questions about how to break into it. They will probably be able to give you more information than you ever thought to ask. Not only that, but they will be the people who can give you information about job leads and even open a few doors for you.
- Get support and work through obstacles - Once you have a plan in place, get support from those closest to you and work through the obstacles to achieve your goal. Two of the biggest obstacles will be the fear of change and the fear of the unknown. These fears can hold us back and keep us from actually doing what's best for us. On your path, you will face challenges that will make you want to give up. That's where a good support system really helps and will keep you going.
Have you recently made a career change or have been considering one? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
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