Updated: Jan 7
Career change after 40, whether by choice or circumstances can be both exciting and daunting, especially if you have been in the same career for a long time. Whilst it is good to focus on the positives, let’s be real here – finding a job after 40 (and even more so, after 50) can be tough. Being aware of some of the challenges, and having strategies to deal with them.
Unfortunately, ageism is alive and well, but how prevalent it is, will depend on your location and the type of industry.
Glassdoor’s Diversity & Inclusion Study 2019 surveyed employed adults across four countries (United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany. They found that Just over a third of employees across these countries (34 per cent) have witnessed or experienced ageism at work. Ageism appears to be more prevalent in the U.S. and UK — 45 per cent of U.S. employees and 39 per cent of UK employees have experienced or witnessed this form of discrimination (compared to just 29 per cent of French employees and 22 per cent of German employees).
In a survey of adults in USA over age 45 by AARP,” 61% of respondents said they have either seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace and 38% of those believe the practice is “very common.”
So, what can you do about ageism? There are some strategies you can use on your resume to ‘hide’ your age. Be selective with how you use dates, so it is not easy for the employer to work out your age from the information you provide. Definitely DON’T write your date of birth! And don’t put dates next to qualifications obtained a long time ago or jobs you had way back when. For more information on what to include on your resume check out this resource.
When job searching, look for companies whose employees reflect age diversity. You may be able to find staff photos on their website or the company may describe their policies
As an older career changer, you may have more skills and knowledge than you realise.
Make a list of all the skills you used in previous jobs and then work out how they relate to the job you are applying for.
Teachers for example, often think the only thing they can do is teach but a teachers’ role encompasses far more than teaching. Teachers use planning and organization skills, problem-solving, time management, critical thinking, multi-tasking, building relationships and many others. All these skills mentioned are highly transferable to a range of other occupations such as project management, administration, change management and lots more. It is interesting that many teachers, as well as their potential new employers, think that the only thing that teachers do is teach
The key here is not to expect the potential employer to know what the skills of any job you have done are. You have to spell it out for them.
Like transferable skills, strengths are also important in the career change process, especially when considering what your next career will be.
Make sure that you know what your strengths are and that you can articulate them clearly. Knowing what you are good at, and using it, is the key to your success.
Research conducted by Gallup found that people who used their strengths in their work were more motivated, more productive, happier at work and less likely to quit their jobs.
Many people find it difficult to identify their own strengths. If this is you, check out this blog post for more information on strengths and how to identify them. You can also get access to a free strengths quiz here.
Be prepared to learn new skills
Are there any gaps between your current skills and experience and the skills the new career requires?
If so, find a way to bridge that gap. Work out exactly what you need to learn and invest time in learning new skills or technology. There are lots of free or inexpensive online courses, especially if you need to update your computer skills or learn to use different software. There are also of course more formal qualifications such as certificates, diplomas or degrees that might be necessary. If you need experience, think of creative ways in which you get this from volunteering or internships or taking a low entry-level position.
None of this easy and it could be costly and/or time-consuming, but the reality is that you won’t get the job if you don’t meet the requirements. On the flip side, as an older career changer, once you get the job you are more likely to be able to move up the ranks more quickly by leveraging all your skills.
Career change is a process
The best way to approach a career change is to think of it as a process. If you are considering a career change because you are unhappy in your current job, set your goals and if possible, stay in the job as you take steps towards your goals. Take a course to learn the skills you need while still working in your old job, if you can. This will move you closer to your goal and save you time when you quit.
You will discover that the process of changing careers can be transformative, and by the time you achieve your career goal, you will have learnt a lot about yourself and feel like a new person.
If you would like some support in this process, I would love to help you. Contact me to find out how I can help.