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Ideas for changing your career at 40 (even if you have no experience)
The concept of a career change is nothing new. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2020, younger Australian workers will have an average of six careers throughout their lifetime.
But if you’re already in an established career at 40 or older, taking a leap of faith for a midlife career change isn’t always so simple. After all, chances are you have developed a solid skill set and a salary package that goes along with it. Couple that with the stigma of starting from scratch later in life, and a new career may seem unattainable.
The good news is that, although it may take you a little longer than others, changing careers is possible – even if you have no experience in your chosen new field.
Here are some actionable steps for making a career transition.
Refine your transferable skills
The vast majority of us have skills that would be a valuable asset in any workplace: think soft skills like the ability to communicate effectively, organisational skills, and problem-solving abilities.
Write down a list of your skills that you can take with you to your new profession, and start thinking about ways you can ramp up those skills by taking on new projects at work or in your spare time. Also, make a note of any achievements you’ve made with these skills, as you can use these to sell yourself on your new resume.
Study to learn new skills
Although plenty of skills apply to many careers, it’s likely that employers in your new career field will also be looking for candidates with specific experience or education.
Look at options for formal training or study at university or TAFE to begin transitioning to your new career while you’re still working. It may seem unrealistic to be back at school at 40, but nearly half of all university students in Australia are mature-aged, and of those, 67% work and study at the same time. If you’re not sure how to balance work and study, find someone you know who has done it and ask them for advice.
Make use of your contacts
Even if you’re switching careers to an entirely different field, chances are someone in your existing professional network, family or friends group can offer some insights into your new profession or knows someone else who can.
Do some research to find out what networking opportunities there are in your new career field and take as many opportunities as possible to get face-to-face with others in the industry. And don’t be afraid to reach out to industry thought leaders or mentors online to ask for advice – most people will be glad to help.
Scope out the jobs market in your new field
Before you jump into your new career full-swing, research the current jobs climate to see what sorts of skills are in demand and what roles pop up regularly in job listings.
Consider how jobs in the industry will change over the next couple of years as well, as transitioning to a new career can take time – and you want to have the right skills under your belt when it comes time to start applying for jobs.
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