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The Ups and Downs of a Late Career Change

by Helen Sabell

July 12 2017 - It's no secret that in today's fast-paced world, employees are becoming more disillusioned with the idea of carrying out their entire career within one organisation, or indeed, industry. With many opportunities for adult learning, there is no reason why careers need to stagnate purely because of age.

Naturally, late-stage career changes are a popular choice. Read on to learn more about the real ups and downs of making a job switch later in life.

Being Sure of Your Decision

Dissatisfaction in a role can arise from a number of reasons, and leaving is only one of many solutions. It's important to be sure of your decision to leave, and knowing what you are getting yourself into. Before making the leap, make sure that you have spoken to managers or an HR team, as well as other employees, about any issues you may be facing. Small obstacles can be easily fixed, while more widespread problems may signal that it is time to move on.

A career overhaul is needed when toxic patterns don't change. A stressful week might make anyone wish that they worked elsewhere, but you may feel differently in a few days time. By taking some time to talk to someone about your progress each week, or even writing down your thoughts, you'll be able to see these patterns more clearly and make a rational decision.

Quitting or Phasing Out

A career change doesn't necessarily mean quitting your job and walking out the door. Mid or late-career employees become used to a certain standard of living, supported by a regular paycheck. Going from a mid-level to an entry-level position may include a significant pay cut, and so some employees make the decision to phase out of their current role slowly. This could include negotiating a part-time arrangement or moving into a different department more aligned with your new goals.

Keeping Your Expectations in Check

In an ideal world, we would all be inspired by the work that we do, and never have to worry about money or mortgages or putting food on the table. Unfortunately, while making a late stage career change will boost your enthusiasm, it may come at the cost of your standard of living. Speaking to a careers advisor or coach about your current opportunities will give you a realistic understanding of how much you should be cutting back.

Hunting For Your New Role

Positioning yourself as the perfect candidate for an entirely new industry with little experience can be a daunting prospect. As well as chatting to careers counsellors and recruiters, it's a good idea to invest in some self-improvement via adult learning.

Online courses can be completed in a short space of time around your other commitments and will give your resume some fresh experience. They're also the perfect testing ground to reinforce that this new path is right for you.

For many mature age students, returning to study is a common concern. You might be surprised to find that the projects completed through study can still reflect and enhance real-life situations.

Networking Within Your New Industry

Focus on the contacts that you currently have at your disposal, and reach out to anyone who is working in the industry you want to pursue. Attending events, conferences, or niche adult training initiatives is also a great way to meet new people, and don't forget to update the old resume and LinkedIn profile. Do some digging into the companies that you would want to target, and reach out to people who currently work for them. Speaking to employees is the best way to get the inside scoop on what it's like working for an employer.

Finding Confidence Within Yourself

Perhaps the biggest hurdle for those about to embark on a late-stage career move is their own self-doubt. The truth is that we don't necessarily have just one dream job, and as we mature over time, we can realise that our current role isn't fulfilling us. We spend more than half of our waking hours at work, and so a supportive, collaborative and challenging environment is essential to contribute to our overall sense of purpose.

A common problem is feeling so overwhelmed with the pressure of choice, that we are paralysed into inaction. The best strategy is to just start, perhaps with small steps, to work towards your new career. Take a night course, or attend networking events to begin chatting to the right people. For those that find their calling, the next steps will fall into place.

Author Bio

Helen Sabell works for the College for Adult Learning, she is passionate about adult learning. She has developed and authored many workplace leadership programs, both in Australia and overseas.

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