Do you dream of doing a career “180”? With nearly 80 percent of workers dissatisfied with their current jobs, according to a Business Insider survey, 40 is increasingly becoming a pivotal point for a major career change. As a Senior Executive Search consultant, I frequently work with individuals who are starting a new career at 40 or considering a major career change.
Making the jump is never easy, but with thoughtful preparation and strategic networking, you can position yourself to succeed in a career change. Keep the following in mind:
Passion versus paycheck. Thanks to the demands of mortgages, raising a family, and saving for retirement, leaping into a new career at 40 is not as straightforward as simply following your passion. Perhaps you once had your dream career, but a personal change, such as marriage and children, moved you in a different direction. Whatever the reason for your career change at 40, give careful thought to how this change will impact your finances. If you leave your current job for a lower paying one in a different field – and then change your mind about this switch – you may never fully bounce back from the pay cut.
Network, network, network. With two decades of work experience under your belt, you’ve undoubtedly built a strong professional network. Unfortunately, the bulk of this network is likely to be in your current field, which may be 180-degrees away from your dream job. Tap into your LinkedIn network to find professionals in your dream field that share a mutual connection; getting an introduction to these industry insiders is essential to expanding your network.
Build your skills. If you are considering a major career transition, such as moving from dentistry to financial planning, you will not only need to acquire a brand new skill set, but you will also need the professional certifications required for this new field. Start by taking part-time course work online or at a community college. Once you’ve completed your certifications, you’ll be ready to begin the job search.
Identify professional synergies. Making the leap to a new career does not have to mean leaving behind your old skills; instead, use transferable skills and professional insights to your advantage. For example, if you are a dentist turned financial planner, how can you use your insights into the challenges of dentistry to better cater financial planning services specifically to dentists or other medical professionals? Finding synergies between your old and new fields will streamline the transition process and better position you for professional success.
Are you considering a career change at 40? What are your greatest concerns and how are you facing them? I welcome your thoughts below.