How To Navigate A Midlife Career Change

By Charlie Fletcher

The coronavirus ushered in an unprecedented era of change. Most of this change has been harmful and destructive, with work and careers being particularly susceptible to an abrupt and unexpected ending. You may be facing the prospect of a midlife career change, forced upon you or because you crave something different.

The ongoing economic turmoil caused by reduced foot traffic for businesses, shelter-in-place orders from government leaders, and full-blown quarantines for cities, states, and nations has left countless individuals without work. This includes many middle-aged folks who were heavily invested in careers that were already well underway.

How To Navigate A Midlife Career Change

If you find yourself among the ranks of those who have been furloughed, laid off, fired, or otherwise “let go,” it’s important to take stock of your situation as you prepare to relaunch your career mid-stream. Heck, even if you recently left a stable job on purpose or made a dramatic decision to suddenly change things up two decades into your career, these tips can still help you put some fire in your belly as you navigate the exciting-yet-challenging weeks and months ahead.

Plan Wherever Possible

With so much at stake, it’s tempting to dive in and start applying to other jobs as quickly as possible. However, if you want this career reset to count, it’s important that you pump the brakes first and take stock of your situation. 

It’s crucial that you understand that relaunching your career at a mid-life point isn’t a cakewalk — nor is it something that should be taken lightly. On the contrary, it should be carefully planned out whenever and wherever possible.

For instance, if you were laid off during the pandemic, it can’t be helped and you must start your career change as soon as possible. However, if you’re still able to remain employed for a while, don’t quit your current job until you’re truly ready to make the transition. In fact, you can even take things further by beginning the transition while you’re still employed. This may not sound appealing if you’re itching for a change, but it can make your stress levels and finances, in particular, much easier to manage during the change.

In addition, use this early time in the transition to set appropriate expectations for your future career. Identify what is reasonable to compromise on as well as what isn’t. For instance, working longer hours than you’d prefer or not having great PTO may be acceptable compromises, whereas gender-driven lower pay and a hostile work environment are not.

Remember, Old Habits Die Hard

There’s some truth to the maxim that old habits die hard. This isn’t supposed to put a damper on your new career ambitions, but rather, awareness of your habits will help you focus on realistic and plausible options as you move forward. 

As you prepare to launch into the job hunt and start to carve out a new career path, understand that you’re going to come up against unexpected obstacles along the way, many of which will be rooted in your own behavior. Humans are creatures of habit, and you’ve likely gotten used to acting in a certain manner throughout your professional activities in the past. 

If you want to successfully navigate all of the change, it’s critical that you maintain an adaptable attitude that is willing to continually learn and adjust how you do things. From the way you input data, to the levels of approval required by a boss, to countless other activities, be ready to embrace a growth mindset and willingness to meet the expectations of your new employer as you attempt to forge a fresh career path.

Refresh Your Job Toolkit

Getting into the right mental state is half the career-change battle, particularly at the midlife point. However, you’re still going to need to give some attention to some of the tried and true tools typically required to land a new job, as well. Take some time to refresh your job toolkit by:

  • Sprucing up your resume by updating dates, adding experience, removing unnecessary or irrelevant fluff, and so on.
  • If you’re in a career field that uses portfolios, revamping your portfolio to make sure that it’s up to date and tailored toward whatever your next job might be.
  • Touching base with your existing professional network to line up referrals and help you find quality job leads.
  • Brushing up on your interview skills and making sure that you have appropriate garb for both video and in-person professional interactions.
How To Navigate A Midlife Career Change

Extracurricular Activities to Help Jumpstart Your New Career

Finally, here are a few other suggestions for miscellaneous activities that can help to jumpstart your new professional ambitions:

  • Try learning a new skill: Tech skills, in particular, such as using Excel or understanding HTML, can help you stand out in a 21st-century crowd of candidates.
  • Get certified: You may not have time to return to school, but there are countless certifications and assessments online — many of which are free — that can help you demonstrate your knowledge to recruiters.
  • Volunteer: By volunteering within your new field, you can build your network and improve your resume, all while helping others, as well.
  • Find a good career counselor: You may have a lot of experience, but a good career counselor will have updated and professional advice that can improve your chances of finding a good job.

Fearlessly Relaunching Your Career

There are many factors that should be considered when relaunching your career at any time of life. Nevertheless, doing so a decade or two after entering the workforce can feel particularly intimidating. However, if you take the time to confidently pull together a plan and knowledgeably gather your job-seeking tools, you’ll be able to boldly resurrect your professional ambitions in a new and exciting manner that leads to infinite potential and hope, no matter what the future may bring your way.

You may also like: Midlife Transition – An Ongoing Process and How To Facilitate More Female Leadership

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Midlife Career Change

Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for social activism and search for the truth. When not writing she is a part time wedding planner and spending time with her nephews.

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