October 14, 2023
Reinventing yourself professionally at the age of 50 might seem like a daunting task, but it’s far from impossible. In fact, many individuals find that embarking on a new career path in their fifties can be an enriching and fulfilling experience.
You don’t have to feel trapped in a role that doesn’t serve you. Your priorities and interests can change so extensively over your lifetime, so don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself about what work makes you happy and what brings you a sense of fulfilment.
This comprehensive guide will explore the possibilities, advantages, and disadvantages of a career change at 50, and provide you with valuable insights to help you navigate this transformative journey.
The short answer is yes, a career change at 50 is entirely feasible. However, it does come with its unique set of challenges. Age should not deter you from pursuing your passions or seeking new opportunities. In fact, life experience, maturity, and a robust skill set acquired over the years can be significant assets in your journey to a new career.
Changing careers at 50 presents some unique challenges, but you will also have advantages that those changing careers at a younger age will not have. It’s important to recognise these advantages so you can make the most of them throughout the process.
Career changes at 50 often fall into several common categories:
You might think that changing careers at 50 would completely derail your progress and put you right back at the start, but this is rarely the case. Those changing careers in their 50s have a number of distinct advantages that are not seen in other age groups.
While there are numerous advantages, there are also some challenges to consider:
If you are set on making a change in your career, being prepared for what lies ahead will serve you well. Before taking the leap into a new career at 50, consider the following:
Reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, and interests. What drives you? What are your skills and passions? Take stock of your career so far and think about the transferable skills you can put to work in a new career.
If your career change requires you to re-write your CV, you’ll want to focus on the transferable skills that are applicable to any sector. You can also use these as talking points in an interview to help set you apart from the competition.
The fact that you are still striving for new horizons at the age of 50 will automatically set you apart from the competition. You may well be going up against younger candidates, but these candidates will not have your drive and determination.
Thoroughly research your desired industry or career path. Understand the job market, skill requirements, and potential employers. You need to have realistic expectations of what you can expect in your new career, or you might find that you have simply fallen victim to the idea that the grass is greener elsewhere.
By properly researching the sector – and perhaps even gaining some on-the-job experience – you will be better positioned to make a decision about your future career.
Determine if you need additional education or training. Online courses, certifications, or part-time classes can help bridge any knowledge gaps. Once you have taken stock of your current skills and competencies, look at some job descriptions of ideal roles and spot the gaps in your CV.
This information should form the basis of your education and training plan. If you have a safety net or buffer, you could take time away from work to retrain. Otherwise, you will have to work out how to fit training around your existing commitments. If you are hoping to move horizontally within your existing company, your employer might be willing to assist with your training plan.
Leverage your existing professional network and seek guidance from mentors who have made similar transitions. Finding a mentor at your age might feel unusual, and you might even find that you have to seek mentorship from someone younger than you, but try to take an age-agnostic view towards this.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how old someone is. If they have knowledge that you don’t have, you could benefit from their insight. Your mentor may be able to learn from you in other ways, creating a mutually beneficial relationship.
Develop a financial plan to accommodate potential salary changes during your career transition. The best way to protect yourself against a financial shock will be to continue working while you navigate the change.
If you are leaving your current line of work to start a business, you will need a financial safety net to ensure your expenses are covered while you get established. The good news is that those in their 50s are more likely to have an emergency fund available, so now is the time to put it to work.
It has probably been a while since you had to look at your CV, but now is a good time to spruce things up. The aim of your CV and cover letter will be to explain your career change so you can get a foot in the door. Be sure to highlight the transferable skills you have developed over the years and show how these may be applied to any role.
If you’re not sure how to present this information on your CV and cover letter, try consulting with a recruitment adviser. They will know the current trends in recruitment and how to make your CV stand out from the crowd. They will also know what employers are looking for and how to present your career change as a positive step.
Recruitment consultants can offer a broad range of career advice, including offering recommendations for courses that you might consider taking before you change careers. They have a finger firmly on the pulse of current hiring trends, so you should make the most of the advice and support they can offer.
Practice interview techniques and be ready to address questions related to your career change. You can expect to be grilled about your reasons for changing your career later in life, so be prepared for this. Practise your answers and try answering in a few different ways so you are prepared for the question being presented in a different way.
It might have been a while since you last had to be interviewed for a role, so it’s also a good idea to review the basics. You might be relying heavily on your work experience to shine through during the interview, but it can be helpful to make sure you have covered the basics.
If you have a mentor or advisor in the sector, ask them about hiring trends and what they are currently looking for in candidates, this will help you to adjust your approach to ensure you are building your interview technique on insight rather than outdated knowledge.
Remember that every interview is an opportunity to learn more about the sector, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you are knocked back for roles. Always ask for feedback so you can use this to improve for the next interview.
Understand that a career change can be a lengthy process. Stay persistent and patient throughout your journey. If you are determined to make the switch, this will shine through in your approach. Remain optimistic throughout and don’t let things like interview rejections deter you.
When you are turned down for a role, it simply means that there was another candidate more suitable for the position. With determination, you will eventually land the role that is perfect for you.
In conclusion, a career change at 50 is entirely possible, and it can lead to a more fulfilling and rewarding professional life. While there are challenges to consider, the advantages of pursuing your passions and leveraging your experience often outweigh the disadvantages.
With careful planning and determination, you can embark on this new chapter with confidence and enthusiasm. Remember, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams and create a brighter future for yourself.
Be sure to seek advice and support from a wide range of people, including recruitment consultants, mentors and colleagues who have made a late-career switch. Those around you will have a wealth of insight that could make your journey much easier.Back to Blog