Picture this: you’re at a crossroads called “mid-thirties” with the desire to change your career.
Perhaps this is because your current career is becoming irrelevant. Maybe you realise the career you chose in your twenties is not what you really want, or maybe your enthusiasm has taken a dip and you just want to try something new.
If this happens, it’s normal.
But when this urge to shift career gears happens, how do you plan to navigate the change?
You’ve studied and gained qualifications in a specific skill, and have years of work experience in that field. Surely this means you won’t be hireable for anything other than what you know? Wrong.
Use the skills you already have to try something new
Take a page out of past GetSmarter student, Tanya Nel’s book:
She always dreamed of starting her own catering business, but as a single mom, needed a steady income. So for many years she worked as a line manager for a printing company, allowing her passion for cooking to only come alive in her household.
At the age of 51, she decided to do an online short course from UCT in Restaurant Management, which taught her the skills she would need to start her own business. Coupled with her business knowledge as a line manager, her work ethic and her cooking skills, she finally had the confidence to make the career change and launch her own catering company.
In Tanya’s own words, “It doesn’t matter how old you are, and it doesn’t matter where you are in your life or in your career. It’s never too late to learn, and it’s never too late to go after what you want.”
What soft or technical skills have you learnt in your current career that would work in your favour for the career you want to move into?
Leverage advantages from your previous profession
As an experienced professional there are three things that will work in your favour when making that big career change: connections, money and the halo effect.
The connections you would have made from networking throughout your career, comes to landing the job of your dreams. This pool of people will be able to point you in the right direction, recommend you to potential employers, or even offer you a job.
If you have managed to put money away in a savings or investment, you may be able to use your time of unemployment productively. Invest in studying an online short course and volunteer for a cause that relates to the line of work you want to move into. Use the money earned in your previous career to pave the way for a new career.
3. The halo effect
The “halo effect” is a concept that dates back to the 1920s. In simple terms it’s when you view others as being totally good or totally bad based on your first evaluation of the person. Use this human behaviour to your advantage. When you walk into that job interview, exude confidence and professionalism, recognising that because you’ve been successful in one career, others will likely view you as being successful in another career. If you believe it, they’ll believe it.
You may feel a career change is impossible at your age, and that employers would be reluctant to hire anyone who doesn’t have experience – especially when it comes to high-level jobs.
But interestingly, research from Harvard Business School professor Gautam Mukunda claims the opposite. Their findings reveal that outsiders without industry experience are likely to be the best leaders, who can resurrect troubled companies, map out bold new strategic directions, or guide a nascent startup to dominance.
The question is, are you willing to test their findings and take the leap?
This article was published in partnership with online education provider, GetSmarter, and is the first of a monthly five-part career advice series.
Look out for next month’s piece to find out which jobs will be the most lucrative in the future workplace.
Visit getsmarter.com to browse a diverse portfolio of over 60 university-approved continuing education online short courses.
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