Tips for planning a midlife career change

A midlife career change can be daunting especially when you are firmly entrenched in your comfort zone, earning a decent salary and are confident in the work that you do. The question is can you really see yourself doing the same job for the next 20 years?

If you are unmotivated now and your job does not make you feel fulfilled, do you really want to be doing it until the day you retire?

Your career is an integral part of your life. If you are discontented with what you do for a living then without change you are probably going to wait a very long time to feel completely happy with your life.


What stops people from making a career change

The potential drop in income scares a lot of people. After all you have responsibilities and bills to pay, and taking a hit financially could have a serious impact your family and lifestyle.

Starting at the bottom means learning new skills and climbing your way up the ladder again. It takes a lot of effort and if you are relatively comfortable now, there isn’t much incentive to change.


Tips for planning a midlife career change

While these reasons may seem prohibitive, they can be overcome by being strategic about your career change. Here’s how:

1 Identify your needs

Identify what is really important to you. Start with your life needs like spending quality time with your family. Then look at your career. What working lifestyle and activities will enable you to lead a fulfilling life and give you job satisfaction? For instance you may want to work flexitime and you want your job to enable you to contribute to your local community. Then look at the activities you want to eliminate from your next career.


2 Prioritise your needs

Prioritise your list according using the MoSCoW principles. MoSCoW stands for Must Have, Should Have, Could Have and Won’t Have.  Write down all your Must Have’s, in other words your non-negotiables, for your new career. Then write down the Should Have’s, these are things you want to see in your next career but you are prepared to wait for. Then write down your Could Have’s, these are the additional benefits you would like to see in your new career but you can live without. Lastly write down your Won’t Have’s, in other words everything you want to eliminate from your new career.


3 Identify your strengths and transferrable skills

Identifying transferrable skills is a stumbling block for many people. The best way to do this is to look at the activities you perform within your current and previous roles that you want to practice in your next career. Think about how they can help you achieve your Must Have’s and Should Have’s. Then identify the experiences, knowledge and personality traits you have that could be used as selling points for you.


4 Investigate your options

Investigate possible career options. Do as much research as possible to identify careers you find most interesting and will help you achieve your MoSCoW items. Narrow your list of options by talking to people who are doing those jobs. If you don’t know of anyone then use LinkedIn to connect with someone in that career so that you can find out more about that type of job. Doing research will help you minimise the risk of switching to a completely new career that doesn’t actually fulfil your needs.


5 Map your new career path

When you have identified your ideal career, map your new career path. This means looking at ways that could get you into the industry or your ideal type of job using your transferrable skill set. It may mean moving sideways in your current career to pick up necessary experience, or doing some voluntary work. Perhaps it means taking a job that isn’t an exact match but will open doors for you. Your career path defines the steps you need to take in order to transition to your ideal career.


A midlife career change is possible if you make the effort to plan it properly. Not all career changes result in financial losses or starting at the bottom. As someone who already has extensive working experience you have a lot to offer to new companies. These are your selling points so make sure that you identify what they are and use them to promote yourself so that you can land your ideal role.

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