If you have found yourself questioning whether you chose the right career, you are not alone. In fact, nearly 49% of workers have made a dramatic career shift by the time they are 39! Regardless of whether you are feeling the itch because you want higher pay, more flexibility, or just simply don’t enjoy your work, you should embrace the desire for change.
To make the leap a little less intimidating, we interviewed eight successful business leaders who too made a big midlife career change. Keep reading to learn more about their experiences and their best tips for anyone ready to take the leap!
Leverage Your Skills
I recently made an “industry” career change after spending 25 years in the staffing and recruiting world, specifically working in the agency side of recruiting. While I was still passionate about bringing the best talent to the best companies, I was sensing that it was time to leverage all those years of expertise and experience elsewhere. I began to evaluate what “transferable skills” I had and how I could leverage the diversity in my abilities and background to bring to a new industry and/or employer. The next step was to do some “creative targeting,” or identifying opportunities in the external marketplace, to determine what businesses, industries or companies would value my skills and experience and perhaps bring a new perspective to that particular role/company. Finally, for many of us, we are looking to be part of an exceptional culture and team, filled with innovation and the ability to thrive personally and professionally, that was ultimately the final criteria for evaluating the next career opportunity!
Kristy Bach, BestCompaniesTexas
Explore the “What If?”
When I was 22, I traveled around the country in an RV interviewing people about their career paths. Over 300 interviews were conducted, and I heard my fair share of midlife career changes. Accountants turned to goat farmers. CEOs gave up corner offices to become fiction writers. IT professionals started a frozen custard shop. The stories go on, but I think the commonality that drives people to make a midlife career change is the feeling of living (and dying) with “what if?” That “what if” feeling eventually becomes too strong to ignore. Some people listen to that feeling, trust it and make a change. Others ignore that urge, bury the feeling, and keep on with what they’re doing. My tip is just to listen to your feelings. Acknowledge them, explore ways to make it work, and if there’s a light, follow it.
Brett Farmiloe, Dallas SEO Company
Find the Right Company
When looking into a career change, the task isn’t always as complex as switching entire industries, but switching companies to better serve you and your professional development. After being at a company for a number of years, this change can be just as scary as jumping into an entirely new field! My tip would be to find a company that highly values the integrity of the ownership of the organization. Being able to rely on an owner that speaks clearly and does what they say they are going to do leads to high job satisfaction and will make the career transition much easier.
Chris Dunkin, Portable Air
Take the Leap
Making a midlife career change can be a daunting decision that feels like a setback. There is a certain idea that by the midway point in your career, you should be a seasoned professional who is thriving in their field. However, living life includes growing as a person and as a professional. Sometimes you no longer feel fulfilled by the career you chose in your 20’s and that is perfectly okay. If you are considering a midlife career change, take the leap and do it.
Ryan Nouis, TruPath
Work in a Space That Genuinely Makes You Happy
I made a massive career change back in 1991. I previously worked as an attorney in Chicago and St. Louis before opening my own printing company in Tennessee. The tip I would give to someone looking to make the big jump is to work in a space that genuinely makes them happy. I know that sounds cliche, but it is true! At the end of the day, you have to wake up every morning and go to work—so work should be something you truly enjoy.
Eric Blumenthal, The Print Authority
Take Courses Online and Offline
Almost 10 years after I launched a career as an IT Support Officer, I switched to a career in creative writing and content writing. So far, I haven’t had any regrets. That isn’t to say that it has been smooth sailing. From time to time, I still encounter tough challenges which I have learned to surmount. My tips for anyone considering a career move would be this: Take courses online and offline. It will help you to go into the job market with adequate knowledge. Also, try out the job on a part-time basis or as a freelancer. This way you are sure that you’ll be happy taking on your new career. Also, interview role models who are doing the kind of jobs you intend to go into.
Chioma Iwunze, Time Doctor
I was happy in the hospitality industry as an HR executive and hotel general manager. But 20 years of anything is enough! My advice is to be flexible. I started out thinking I would create feature articles for magazines but was wooed by the resume industry. It’s the perfect blend of business, nonfiction writing and helping people follow their dreams.
Joni Holderman, Thrive! Resumes
Reinvent Yourself Through New Skills
Like most folks, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was in college, or after college, or after I got my first job, or second job… you get the idea. I figured it out as I went. I have been exceedingly lucky in my professional life to be surrounded by people who have turned into mentors and friends who have been selfless with their time and fiercely generous with their knowledge. When you know where you want to go, start working toward it.
Now is one of the best times in our history to reskill or reinvent yourself. Everything is available online, from free courses to bootcamps (usually 8-12 weeks), to full-blown degrees. In my personal experience, I’ve found that you don’t need a 2 or 4-year degree to get most roles anymore. You need the aptitude, motivation and a little bit of grit.
Sydney Stern Miller, Tech Talent South