Changing Gears in Your Later Years

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Changing Gears in Your Later Years

Changing jobs late in your working life can be a challenge, but sometimes it's a challenge worth facing.

You've worked hard and spent years getting good at what you do, but what happens when your work no longer works for you? Changing jobs late in your working life can be a challenge, but sometimes it's a challenge worth facing.

Professional growth is many times unnoticeable, but it's a good idea to constantly evaluate your strengths. Doing so will help you make the best use of your talents, as well as gauge your career health and happiness. If and when you're ready to make a career jump, answering these questions will help make your new career a success.

What Do You Need?

Personal gain, job security and work satisfaction are great general motivators, but your personal mission statement should be defined more specifically. Are you looking for a pay rise or a move to a new location? If you're looking for something less tangible such as independence, more responsibility, or a greater impact it's still a good idea to define a measurable goal. A personal mission statement could read "I want to earn £80k per year overseeing software development, have a commute of less than 30 minutes, and be responsible for quality control and developer training."

It's fun to imagine the perks of a new opportunity, but weigh how they will benefit you against any new responsibilities. In addition, will a move affect your personal or professional relationships? Considering these factors in detail should help you decide whether a career change is worth making.

What Job Do You Want?

Defining the kind of work you're after will open up job possibilities. For example, a company not directly dealing in your trade may have a department that suits you. (e.g., a technology company may employ accounting, legal, or even child care professionals.) You should also define how a new career would improve on your work current environment, lifestyle, or impact.

Defining your new job is also a good way to prepare for its challenges. Visualising them will help develop your reactive skills for when challenges arise. Of course you won't predict all the potential problems you'll face, but it will help to develop good judgement and preventative habits.

What Do You Offer?

Some jobs can segue naturally into others. For example, hands-on experience can contribute greatly to success in a management or consultancy role. Have you gained special expertise, skills, or a valuable list of contacts in your field? Employers look favourably on experience on the ground, so you may be within reach of a new career in a familiar industry.

If you're looking to change industries entirely it's advisable to choose one that has a demand for your strengths or experience. Are you quick to pick up new skills and knowledge? What skills do you have that will apply to many industries? These strengths should be emphasised when applying for jobs. In other words, your move needs to benefit potential employers or clients as well as you.

Making A Transition

Congratulations! You've set yourself on a course for a new career! You may be able to offer fresh ideas or tools in your new role. On the other hand you'll need to adapt to new systems and practices. If you're ever unsure in a new environment it's safest to communicate with questions. What tools are appropriate to use in your new task? Can your colleagues provide input on how to approach a task?

Your new managers or clients will be watching your work closely when you start, so it's a good idea to make your successes highly visible. If you're managing a team you'll earn respect from those under you if they too see clear results, especially when they made a major contribution. Asking pertinent questions is not only an excellent method of getting up to speed, but also a good way to build trust between your colleagues and you.

Starting Again

Changing careers in your later years doesn't mean you have to start from scratch. You now have experience which gives you an edge over younger candidates, and you still have virtually unlimited potential to grow. Whether the change you're considering is for personal, professional or economic reasons, your greatest asset will always be intuition. Trust in your skills and experience, and a more fulfilling and fruitful career may still be in store for you.