Taking that leap of faith
Change can be daunting, but it’s often the best way forward — a lesson we often lose sight of as we get older.
During the “Great Resignation” of 2021, 53% of Americans didn’t just quit their jobs, but switched their careers, according to CNBC. Almost half of those who jumped ship were over 30.
This shift has a lot to do with the way the workforce landscape has evolved in the wake of the pandemic.
The Harvard Business Review reported that in 2023, hybrid work environments became the rule, rather than the exception; more organizations turned to non-traditional channels to add to their talent pool, and higher levels of flexibility for employees became more common.
You could almost call it a golden age for career switchers, with more opportunities than ever in many U.S. industries.
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Improving your chances of a smooth landing
Making a career change later in life will naturally require some careful planning.
Beyond identifying your long-term goals, there are concrete steps you can take to make sure you’re as prepared as possible.
First, update your resumé to include your “soft”, or transferable, skills, like solid communication, adaptability and problem-solving, along with any technical expertise you may have picked up at your current job (e.g. Photoshop, Google Analytics, Salesforce).
Next, upload your revised resumé to online job boards like ZipRecruiter, Monster and Indeed, and start applying for every role that seems like it might be a good fit.
You may also want to ask your younger peers to give you “reverse mentoring”: Learning current recruitment trends and workplace perspectives may help you land your dream job.
If the job search process takes longer than you expect, don’t get discouraged.
In his best-selling book The 10x Rule, Grant Cardone suggests setting goals that are 10 times higher than what you expect. To translate that to the job search, if you expect you’ll need to send out 25 resumés to secure an interview, the “10 times rule” prepares you to send out 10 times that amount.
So rather than waiting for the proverbial phone to ring with that magic job offer, keep filling out applications and practicing for your next interview.
Crunching the numbers
Even once you’ve found a promising lead, It’s completely valid to be concerned about your pension and your 401K.
There is research to back up the notion that you will be working past the age of 65 if you switch careers in your 50s, but that doesn’t always have to be the case.
Here are some ways you can save yourself some money (and stress).
If your new career will require you to start in an entry-level position, spend some time looking at how a lower salary will fit in with your long-term financial plan and affect your Social Security benefits. Once you have a sense of the initial salary you’ll be paid, try living on that for two to four months, to see if it feels sustainable. Create an emergency fund, if you haven’t already. While financial advisors suggest having three to six months of expenses saved up, if you aim for the higher end of that it will help you weather any hiccups. Make sure your 401K is portable. Then, ask your prospective new employer if they match 401K contributions. Many employers match up to 50 cents on the dollar, up to 6% of your salary.
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Embracing the adventure
Perhaps, after research and consideration, you’ll realize that switching careers is not the best option for you.
But if it’s something that you do decide to pursue, don’t feel like you’re swimming in uncharted waters. There are countless others who have taken the plunge before you, and help is available, even if you’re just searching online.
If you’ve done your homework, a late-life career switch may very well be an adventure worth embarking on.
Remember: It's not the start date that defines you, but the passion and purpose you bring to each new beginning.
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