How To Change Careers At 50
Job changes can often be daunting, whether they are getting back in the workplace after being unemployed or moving to a new role. But what about considering an entirely new career path after turning 50? According to John Lees, career coach and author of ‘How to Get a Job You Love’, more people are changing jobs in their 50s than any time before.
When our working lives can easily exceed half a century in length, it’s traditional to treat people in their 50s as winding down for retirement. However, more older people than ever are making the most of their accumulated experience: in the last five years more than a million people aged 50 and over have re-joined the workforce. So, why do people do it and how?
Why make a career change at 50?
There are a range of different reasons for why over-50s may want to change careers. The most common reasons are:
To reduce stress
One of the major reasons that people change careers is that they are tired of working in a busy and stressful environment. This is something to bear in mind if you are looking to slow down and ensure you have some time to relax. Even if a job has a number of benefits, sometimes the stress is not worth it. Many men and women step down from lucrative positions to accept job roles with lower pay simply to reduce stress.
For a change of pace
Another major reason why people over-50 decide to change careers is to reduce pace. This can often go hand-in-hand with stress, of course, but some roles simply require a faster work rate than others. As a result, people may move company, job role or even industry for a less demanding lifestyle.
To learn something new
A long time in the same job can become boring for some. Many people leave successful, established careers because their line of work does not excite them anymore. Instead, they turn to new careers that offer them opportunities to learn new information, face new challenges, have new experiences, and meet new people.
To follow their passions
Often, the need for financial stability and stable circumstances can stop a person from following their passions early in life. Many people choose to pursue their passions once they’re older and more settled.
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Change of career at 50 – what kind of change?
Generally speaking, there are three different ways to change career paths:
In this kind of career change, you remain in the same field but switch industry. With this kind of change, a person may take a general set of skills and apply them to a different industry in which they have no prior experience. The best ways to make this successful are to do a lot of homework on the industry and carrying out appropriate networking where possible.
A functional career change is a change of careers within the same industry. In this type of career change, new or additional training and certifications may be required to make the switch, as new skills are often needed.
Perhaps the most challenging of them all, a double career change is when someone switches both career and industry. This can be difficult to complete, so if you want to successfully change career, it is important to be as prepared as you can by enrolling onto a course or getting any required certifications, such as PRINCE2.
However, bear in mind, with a double career change, it’s not uncommon for an employer to ask someone to start in a lower role. Although frustrating, it’s a good way to get your foot in the door and work your way up the ranks.
How to make a career change at 50
A career change at 50 can be incredibly daunting, but there are a few simple steps you can follow:
Establish your priorities
What do you want from your career change? Tailor your job search accordingly to ensure it meets your needs.
Identify your strengths
If you are struggling to identify where your strengths lie, consider asking honest family members and friends to help you. List all of your transferrable skills and remember, these may not necessarily be job-based - for instance, parenting requires a range of transferrable skills including multitasking, management etc.
Re-write your CV
Adjust your CV to a skills-based format to focus on your abilities rather than simply what you did in your previous roles. This will help potential employers to see your potential, even if your new role is different to what you did before.
Market yourself online
In this day and age, marketing yourself online is a must – this is where LinkedIn comes in. It’s a great way to communicate with other like-minded people and a fantastic place to network and find a new employer.
Network, network, network. We drum it into fresh-faced graduates and if you’re changing career in your 50s, now is the time to cash in. Speak to friends, former colleagues and associates to both find out more about new careers, get introductions to the right contacts and learn about jobs that aren’t being advertised.
If you think your CV is lacking something for the career that you wish to go into, you may want to consider retraining. Whether it be a short online course, enrolling into your local college, teaching yourself or attending professional classroom training - education is key.
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Retraining at 50
Depending on the occupation you wish to join, you won’t necessarily have to enrol onto a university course to complete a career transformation. In most cases, short courses, work experience and self-taught programmes can often fulfil the same function. Not to mention, free resources online such as e-books and YouTube videos can help you to learn the skills you need.
However, if you are considering a particularly drastic career change, you may want to consider an adult apprenticeship. Several companies, including Barclays, National Express and PwC are offering dedicated programmes for older workers, encouraged by the Department of Work and Pensions who point out that older workers are more likely to stay in one job for longer, making investment in their training worthwhile.
Ros Toynbee, director and head coach of The Career Coach, says:
“Find out the skills that are in demand by employers and ask on LinkedIn or within your network how you could go about learning them.”
“There’s courses for just about everything, but ensure you are investing money in the best ones. PRINCE2 for example may not be as in demand in certain organisations as project managers who have completed Agile training or Scrum Master qualifications.”
Top jobs for an over 50 career change
The best opportunities are the ones which you think you will enjoy and which work with your lifestyle. B&Q, BT, Centrica, M&S and Sainsburys are among the organisations which have gained a reputation as an over 50s employer.
Here are some of the best jobs for a career change when you’re over 50:
Consultant – use your expertise to guide other companies.
Teacher – there are thousands of teaching vacancies.
Registered nurse or home aide – flexible and vocational, and rewarding.
Start your own business – over-50s make up 45% of Britain’s self-employed workforce, so if you have an idea, go for it!
Alternatively, if you are unsure what you would like to spend five days a week doing, you may even want to consider a portfolio career. A mix of part-time and freelance work could help you strike the balance you’re after. The gig economy isn’t just for graduates – it’s suitable for anyone who wants to have a flexible career and more control over their working hours.
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