If you’re getting near 50 years of age, the business world is a very different place than the one you entered as a fresh-faced kid. Nowadays, there are amazing opportunities in tech for anyone with enough know-how and ambition. It’s easier than ever to make a midlife career change at 50 or older in our high-tech world, and it’s an opportunity many are taking according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you know the right questions to ask and where to find training and job postings, you can make a successful midlife career change. Age isn’t a factor.
Our guide is here to help you switch career fields and put your life on a track you enjoy. We load you up with the sorts of questions you should ask yourself before making the leap, you’ll also get a rundown of where to find training for your new career, and we let you know where to do your job hunting. You’ll even get a few suggestions for hot field that welcome all comers regardless of age. Our guide is perfect for mid-career workers looking to make a change.
Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Making a Midlife Career Change
If you’re seriously contemplating a career change, you’ve probably been working through the notion for a while. As you start getting ready to take the plunge and move to a career you enjoy, you should take the time to ask yourself a few key questions. Write out the questions and answers as you go—doing so will allow you to organize your thoughts and do some serious pondering
This section looks at the sorts of questions you need to pose to yourself as you prepare to change careers. We give you a few key questions as pointers, and you should definitely include them in your list of questions. Don’t stop with the questions we provide, though. Your career is a big and imposing thing to force to change course, and the more you understand about your reasons, the better. Our questions are here to guide you and stimulate additional questions to give you the best chance at a smooth transition.
Compare Your Skills to the Job You Want
If you’re looking at moving into an in-demand field such as healthcare or technology, you’ll be competing for work against a whole lot of other people. Popular fields with lots of openings generally have a healthy number of job-seekers; it’s the way of the world. Before you jump into your new career, you should ask yourself, “Do I have the training I need?”
It’s not the end of your dreams if a few of your skills need some work before you can become a viable job candidate. There are lots of training courses and online resources that you can use to pick up crucial skills for jobs in technology and other areas. Make a list of the skills your new career requires, list the skills you possess, and work your way through the other ones. When you’re trained up, you’ll be ready for success.
Determine What Your New Career Demands From You
You might want to break into a new job market because you like the high salaries you can earn. You need to be aware of the requirements that new job can place upon you, though. Top-wage professions can often make extra demands on your schedules and personal lives. You should sit down and ask, “What will my new career require from me?”
As with your training requirements, finding out the demands your new job will exert on you shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your dream job. The more information you have going into a job, the fewer surprises you’ll have. It’s crucial to enter your new profession with your eyes open. That way, you won’t regret your decision further down the road.
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The average bootcamp grad spent less than six months in career transition, from starting a bootcamp to finding their first job.
Starting a new career may involve taking an entry level job, and getting a pay cut with it. However, these positions usually solve the problem of acquiring new skills. Along with the financial aspect, it’s important to consider the time demands of a new career, is it part time or full time? How much overtime is required? These are important questions, especially if you have family members who are reliant on you, and for older workers.
“Do I Know What Kind of Work I Want to Do?”
It sounds crazy to think that someone could get to a point where they want to make a career change but don’t know what they want to do. Truth is, it happens all the time. You know you don’t want to do your current job anymore, but you don’t know what should replace it. Before you take a leap and quit your present gig, you should understand what you want to do as a replacement.
Look around at different career paths. You’re sure to find one that appeals to you. Read up on promising professions; there are tons of design and tech jobs that are screaming for more qualified applicants. A little forethought before telling your current boss to get bent can mean the difference between an attempted career move and a successful one.
“Am I Qualified to Work in My Prospective Career?”
Understanding what job you’d like to do in place of your existing one is only part of the battle. The other part is determining whether you have the skills to compete in your new field. It’s all good and well to want to become the “bestest astronaut of all time,” but that probably isn’t a realistic goal for most of us. You should determine your qualifications as part of your prep work.
Be honest about your skills. This isn’t the moment to blue-sky your way through your answer. Assess your qualifications, work skills, and transferable skills to pinpoint the areas in which you need to improve. There’s no shame in needing some training before you can make the transition—if everyone could do the job, it probably wouldn’t be quite so appealing.
Get Trained and Find Work
Now that you’ve figured out what you want to do and what training you’ll need before you can do it, you get to get ready for the big move. This is an exciting point in your transition, and you should pat yourself on the back. You’ve started down the path to a rewarding career and have shown motivation and drive to make the move. You just need to pick up the training and find out who’s hiring.
We look at where you can look to find the right training for your needs in this section. You’ll also find out what resources are available for the new job seeker in today’s business world. Fortunately for you, you’ve got lots of different options for both training and job hunting available for your use. We let you in on a few of the most popular resources so you can get going on your new profession today.
Find a School
The first thing you need to do is find a venue in which to learn your new trade. Lots of emerging fields allow you to enter them through a variety of methods. You can opt for some time in a four-year college to get your training—which is still an expensive but tried-and-true option. If you want to speed along the process and get quality training quickly, you can go for a bootcamp environment.
Plenty of new industries use bootcamps to get their workers trained up in a matter of months. Folks who want to start working as software developers or in an associated field are the most well-known beneficiaries of the new bootcamp culture. But there are lots of other fields that use the same training model and offer fast-paced courses to get you qualified in no time flat. You’re sure to find a training option that works for your needs.
Get to Know Your Job Sites
After you get done with training, you still need to engage in the age-old activity of finding available positions. This is much easier than it was a few decades ago, thanks to the Internet and social media. Today, you can find your dream gig while sitting in your pajamas in front of your home computer. Job sites are everywhere and are the perfect way to find your ideal gig.
You can’t go wrong using a general site like Indeed or Monster, of course. Your best luck will come when you start using the job sites that cater to your particular sector, though. Tech workers will benefit from visiting Dice and other tech sites, for example. And, coders will get specific postings on sites like Freelancer. A little research will net you the perfect job site for your profession.
So, you’ve picked out the right career for your hopes and dreams, and you get your training and have started checking out the job sites. Time to relax, right? Wait, there’s something we’ve forgotten; I can feel it like an itch on the back of my neck. Hmmm… Oh, wait! You didn’t actually find a job yet? Let’s see if we can do something about that.
This section covers the nitty gritty of career changes and gets down to brass tacks. We look at how to make yourself an attractive candidate and show you what you need to do to impress hiring managers. As a mid-career switcher, you’ll need to prove that you have what it takes to start a wholly new profession and make it work. We show you how to polish your resumé and knock your interviews out of the park. You’ll be ready to take on your new role after you finish this section.
Update Your Resumé and Portfolio
Your portfolio and technical resumé represent you to your prospective employers. That’s always been the case, of course, but it’s truer now more than ever before. In our modern professional lives, our electronic profiles including resumés and portfolios are essential to our job prospects. Keeping your curriculum vitae (CV) elements up-to-date and looking their best is the secret to standing out from the pack.
Make sure you tailor your resumé to the job for which you’re applying. Don’t clog it up with unnecessary elements that you won’t need in your prospective position. Weed out the aspects that don’t convey the image you hope to project of someone tailor-made for the role you aim to land. Your portfolio should also include the projects that would most appeal to the hiring manager and not just the ones of which you’re the most proud. Constant attention to your portfolio and resumé will keep you at the top of the list for potential interviewees.
Prepare for Your Interview
If you’ve made it to the interview stage, you can be confident that you’re ready to take on any challenge they throw your way. Now, all you have to do is convince your interviewers of that fact. You should look at your job interviews as opportunities to project your abilities and confidence. When you walk into an interview knowing that you’ve got your bases covered, you’ve got the upper hand before you sit down.
Get ready for a mixture of general and technical questions in your interview. More than ever, companies use practical interviews as a means to assess knowledge and weed out unqualified applicants, so work in an hour of study a night for a few weeks before your interview. Always dress one level more formally than the company’s dress code. And, be ready to answer why you’re changing careers. A well-considered answer to this question can be the deciding factor on your landing the gig of your dreams.
Find an Up-and-Coming Field
As a seasoned professional, you’re well aware that technology training can transform your working life and open up a world of possibilities. If you know the best midlife career change jobs you can find in technology, it’s easy to make the leap to a new tech career. Knowing the lucrative tech gigs is the key to have a successful career transition.
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Fortunately for you, we’ve got your back, my mid-career friend. This section will give you the important information you should know to start your new tech career off on the right foot. We let you know which careers are perfect for a professional looking to start a new professional life midway through the journey. It’s easier than you think if you know what to do, and we’ll help you get started.
Check Out Project Management
There are new tech fields coming online all the time, and successful businesses know how to utilize them in a concerted team effort. Project manager are the folks who make those teams happen. If you have leadership and management skills and a desire to move into technology, you might want to consider a gig as a project manager. PMs are in high demand and are a great way to bring your skills to bear in the tech world.
There are lots of ways to pick up PM training. You can opt for self-training via online sources like Cybrary and other free sites. You can also go for a training course—there are a ton of PMP training bootcamps available both on- and offline for your convenience. Getting the skills you need to transition to project management is simpler than you might think.
Find a Tech Job in Server or Network Support
When you imagine tech careers, you probably first picture someone busily tapping out lines of computer code. That’s certainly one route into tech jobs, but there are plenty of other options for mid-life workers who want tech careers. If you have an aptitude for gadgets and fixing things, you might be a great fit for system support.
All of the equipment upon which companies depend for their livelihood break down all the time, and someone needs to fix them. Folks with troubleshooting skills are perfect for system support—it’s not difficult to turn your ability to fix motors or gadgets to computers. The appealing aspect of this route is that you can break into the field with minimal training. Start in desktop or laptop support, and work your way up to servers and network architecture as you pick up work experience.
And that’s the deal, my fellow mid-career changers. It’s easier than ever in today’s business world to change professions, but you need to know how to make the move before you try it. Our guide gives your the information you want and lays out how to make a career change at 50. With our help, you’ll be ready to take the plunge and start your new life today.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.