Everything You Need to Know About Making a Midlife Career Change

Posted on November 11, 2021

No matter how long you’ve been working in your current field, it is never too late to make a change if you feel the need to try out something new. Your happiness and sense of fulfillment at work are crucial, so if you’re feeling stuck and unmotivated, it may be time to look for something different. 

Making a career change at any time can be difficult, but it can be even more difficult if you are looking to make a midlife career change. However, a new beginning might be exactly what you need to start achieving your dreams. Here is everything you need to know about making a midlife career change.

1. Plan for the change

A midlife career change isn’t something that you simply wake up one morning and decide to do that day. You need to think about it over time and decide what you want to do. It’s incredibly important to take some time alone and reflect on what you want and what would make you happy. It often helps to write all of these things down and keep a list.

You should only move forward with the change when you are confident and feel comfortable with your plan, knowing that the change will give you fulfillment in the long run. Make sure to do plenty of research on the job or field you are looking to move to. You should know everything it entails, the expectations, any additional requirements, and its pros and cons. 

Learn as much information as possible and never make drastic decisions without preparing because it can cause you more problems in the future. If you plan well, you can make a successful transition that will help you achieve your dreams.

2. Test the field before you change

Don’t just quit your job abruptly because you’ve decided that you want to make a career change. Rather, take time and do research to ensure that what you plan to do will take you where you want to be in your career life. 

It is best to test your career while still at your current job and determine whether it will be a good fit before you commit. One of the best ways to do this is by taking a part-time side gig in your intended career field as you learn more about it. You can also find other professionals that work in that field and ask them about it.

Penn-Mar offers a number of part-time and even substitute positions if you’re looking to take a career in the human services field for a test drive.

Even if you already know a decent amount about the field you are looking to switch to, it is imperative to start gradually and grow as you learn more and work to advance your career.

3. Embrace the change

Changing to a new environment may not be easy. You will meet people with different mindsets, backgrounds, and even expectations. You may even start out earning less money than your previous job since you are starting something new.

All of this can be expected when making a midlife career change. It’s important to remain realistic and not raise your expectations too high. Rather, be ready to embrace the change and prove how valuable you are through your work. 

Remember, career fulfillment is more than money. It would be best if you felt fulfilled, happy, and passionate about the job as you grow. Either way, being honest about your expectations and plans upfront is always the best way to approach a new job.

4. Apply your experience

You already have a wealth of experience working in other areas and interacting with many people, so you should use that to your advantage when looking to make a midlife career change. Even though you’re changing to something new, you may have ideas about how the industry works. This is because you have in-depth knowledge of your current field, and you can apply the experience when you transition to the new one, even if the two fields are not directly related. 

For instance, if you’ve been working as an administrator and you now want to work in human services, you can still apply some of the skills you gained as an administrator to your new field. This makes the transition smooth and less challenging, while also displaying your adaptability.

5. Do not burn bridges

Even though you plan to move to a new industry, it is never advisable to burn bridges at your old workplace. This is because you still need help from those you’ve interacted with, even if they’re not within your new field. You’ll still need references and positive feedback from your former employers.

So, instead, keep your network strong. According to Business Insider, most people get jobs through networking. This means that someone you’ve previously worked with can potentially help you find your dream job. The person might be in contact with people within your desired field and help you gain a step up on the competition.

Therefore, keep those contacts and continue reaching out to your former colleagues. Connect with your contacts on professional social media pages such as LinkedIn to strengthen networking and keep relationships alive.

6. Be open to learning new things

You’re going to encounter new ideologies and cultures when making a midlife career change. You will need to be open to change and learning new things in order to grow in your new career. 

One idea is to enroll in relevant classes or programs as you work part-time in the new field. This will show that you are willing to work hard and learn new things to get where you want to be.

You have to look for avenues to acquire new knowledge and stand out from the crowd. The new field might be highly competitive, and this is why it is imperative to put yourself in the best position to succeed. If you get hired, show your new boss and coworkers that you are always committed to learning more by asking questions and clarifying things you do not understand.

7. Take the appropriate steps

There is no specific time or age for making a midlife career change. As long as you have done your research and are sure that you want to make a change, then it’s time to take the appropriate steps to make it happen. You owe it to yourself to do whatever makes you happy in life, no matter if it involves making a big change. 

Now that you know everything you need to about making a midlife career change, you’re ready to start taking the necessary steps and ultimately land your dream job! We even hope it’s with us at Penn-Mar Human Services!

At Penn-Mar, our mission is to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to live courageous lives full of self-determination, independence, and equity. Our approach is innovative, person-centered, and successful. Through meaningful employment, community inclusion, and residential choice, the people Penn-Mar supports are empowered to live their best lives. If you’re interested in a human resources career and want to make a difference in the lives of others, consider filling out an application to join our team! You can also get involved by learning more about our services, making a donation, or signing up to volunteer with us today!