You’ve been in the workforce for a decade or more. Maybe you’ve worked for the same company the entire time, or perhaps you’ve moved around a bit (or even a lot). But you’ve begun to feel like you’re not in the right place. If you’ve started to think about a career change and you’re over 30, there might be a number of things holding you back from taking the leap. But, whether you know it or not, you’ve got a lot of things going for you, too. Here’s our list of skills and experiences you’ve likely gained by the time you’re 30 and why they make your 30s and 40s a good time to make a career change.
1. You’ve Gained New Skills
By the time you’re in your 30s, you should have a good idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are. In college and for a first few years after, most people still think they’re good at (or bad at) the things they were good or bad at in high school – maybe you were good at math and bad at writing. So you probably got a job that required you to use your math skills. But along the way, many of us learn new skills and develop or discover new talents. And it’s possible that you’ve actually realized you would like a career that focuses more on these new talents and not so much on the abilities you were originally hired for.
So don’t rely on old notions of yourself: think about your career thus far and the moments when you’ve truly enjoyed yourself, inside and outside of work, and evaluate what that tells you about your future career options. Having the experience of growth and change puts you at a distinct advantage that younger career-changers.
2. You’ve Had Success & Proved Yourself
If you’re trying to convince an interviewer that your past experience in construction would make you a great bank manager, you’ve going to have some trouble making the connection. However, if you focus on the fact that you started in construction sweeping floors and rose through the ranks to become a site manager, the interviewer will understand that you worked hard and were trusted with gradually more important responsibilities by your employers. This speaks volumes about your abilities to learn and handle responsibility. Focus on transferable skills such as management experience (even if it was only managing the summer intern), communication abilities, and organizational skills.
Furthermore, a solid decade of work history means that you probably have some former supervisors who can back up your claims that you are someone who can be trusted. Use those people – even if it’s not your current boss – to enhance your likelihood of successfully changing careers.
3. You Know When to Say No
By the time you’re in your 30s, you have a better sense of what might be telltale signs that a position or a particular company isn’t for you. For instance, maybe you’re looking for a better work-life balance but the hiring manager mentioned dinners are catered when the
team works long hours. A younger employee might be thrilled by the idea of free dinner. Meanwhile, you can read between the lines: get ready to work long past 5pm on the regular. Furthermore, if you take a new position, you’ll be able to tell pretty quickly if you’ve made the wrong choice. Does the atmosphere and culture suit your personality, work style, and long-term goals? If not, you don’t need to wait around to find out more: you already know that you need to start looking again.
4. You Are Young Enough to Take a Risk
In addition to having a decade or more of experience under your belt, there’s the flip side of the coin: you’re still young enough to be able to tolerate some risk and instability during a career transition. In your 50s or 60s, you’ll likely be looking forward to retirement. Changing careers at this point, while certainly not impossible, comes with a threat to your plans for retirement. But when you’re in your 30s and 40s, you still have plenty of time to progress in your new career and build a retirement plan. Furthermore, if you have children, the younger they are, the easier your career transition will be: a second grader needs less financial support that a sophomore in college!
If you’re contemplating a career change – no matter what age you are! – and have questions about how to present your skills and experiences to a new audience, we would love to hear from you. We have years of experience helping people create the documents and profiles that get them the job they want, even if it’s in a completely new industry. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for our blog next month, on the pitfalls to avoid during a career change!