Do you find yourself dreaming of a new career? You’re not alone. Nearly half of older millennials say they wish they had chosen a different career path. Dreaming is easy, but taking that leap isn’t always so simple. Consider this career change advice before taking the next step.
Ask Yourself the Tough Questions
Why do you want to change careers midlife? This may be difficult to answer, or perhaps the answer itself is complicated, but unpacking it can help you determine if you want to change fields completely or look for opportunities in the same industry but at a new company. Most importantly, take time to really mull over this decision. Don’t let your judgment be clouded by a few bad days — thoroughly weigh all the benefits and drawbacks over a span of weeks or even months.
Ultimately, it’s your decision, but trusted friends, family and industry experts may provide valuable insight and offer significant midlife career change advice that you haven’t considered. Gaining your closest confidants’ support is critical for making your career change at 45 (or older) successful.
Give Your New Career a Test Run
Without some firsthand experience, jumping 100% into a new industry may not be wise. If there’s a new industry you’re interested in, gaining experience working hands-on in the field may be key for a successful midlife career change. A related job shadow, internship or a part-time job could give you the insight you need to decide if this is the right fit for you. In addition, these experiences can also build up your resume.
Take a Class or Two
If it’s a completely new career path you seek, taking a class or two within the new field can expand your knowledge base. Research what classes are available through a local college, online or in your community.
Update Your Resume and Cover Letter
Because your resume and cover letter are often the first opportunities you have to showcase your skills to a prospective employer, it’s important these tools are up-to-date — especially when you’re shifting your career in a new direction. Highlight your relevant skills to show a clear connection between your experience and the new position. These tools allow you to tell your story and convince your prospective employer you would be a good choice.
Bonus tip: When your resume is current, reach out to those in your network who are connected to the field you want to pursue. They can help introduce you to others in the profession.
Consider Your Finances
Your new career path may promise a bit more variety, flexible hours or a chance to pursue your passion, but if it’ll leave you strapped for cash or delay retirement it may not be the best move. Take a close look at the new gig’s salary, benefits and retirement offerings to ensure you can afford the change.
- Salary: If your new career promises a higher salary, then this is one factor you don’t need to worry about. But, if changing careers midlife means taking a pay cut, you may need to evaluate your budget to see if you can swing the move financially.
- Benefits: Pay isn’t the only financial factor to consider. Do you depend on your current employer’s benefits, such as medical, dental, vision and life insurance, or long-term and short-term disability? If so, before you make a midlife career change, you’ll want to be sure your new employer offers the same benefits, or it could end up costing you more.
- Retirement: During the midpoint of your career, you’re probably thinking about retirement more and more each day. When looking at new employers, evaluate their retirement packages and whether or not they offer a 401(k) match.