January 30th, 2013 | 1:00 pm

Stuck in the Same Old Sector? How to Change Career and Get Ahead

filed under Expert Answers

Contributed by Claire Lister

You what?! You quit your job? What were you thinking? There’s got to be a better way to make a midlife career change.

It’s not uncommon for people in the same job for a couple of decades to start considering what else is out there. More often than not people tend to fall into an industry or a job, very early on in their career so it is unsurprising that mid-life career changes have become part of the mid-life changes.

If you can barely drag yourself out of bed in the morning or can’t wait for the work day to end, then maybe a midlife career change is what you need.

Sure, it sounds a little risky, maybe even scary to give up what you’ve been doing for so long and striking out to what Mark Twain called “the territory ahead.” But breaking out of your current comfort zone can be very liberating.

Believe it or not, for many people, life really does begin at 40.

Let’s get started

If you’re ready for the big adventure but worried you’ll go right back to square one again, here are five tips to ensure you get ahead fast when you take the giant leap:

1. Know Who You Are
Make a list of your skills, talents and experiences. Many of these may be transferable to another career. Also, take a look at your personal qualities, such as people skills, public speaking or technical expertise. You might not be using these to their fullest potential. Plus, you need to explore your weaknesses to see if you need some new training or some personal upgrades.

2. Know What You Want
Be clear about what you want in a new career. What are you passionate about? How would you like your new job environment to be? What does your ideal day at work look like? How much do you need or want to earn? The more questions you ask and the better answers you get will help you make the right choice. You do want to get it right, don’t you?

3. Do What You Have to Do
Make a plan and get to work executing it. Start exploring possibilities. Talk to friends. Read books. Attend job conferences. Do you have to go back to school at night or take classes at your local college? For example, if you want a new career in accounting, many community and distance learning colleges offer things like career introductions, bookkeeping courses or associate degrees.

Get the experience you need by doing volunteer or pro bono work. It’s possible you could even learn on the new job. The most important thing is to look at all the options available and make a decision based on what you need to do, to achieve your goals.

4. Believe in the Possibility
Henry Ford said, “There are two kinds of people: those who think they can and those who think they can’t, and they’re both right.” Which kind are you?

Realize that it’s never too late to start something new, so believe in yourself. Believe in the possibility of a new career and get started as soon as possible. By the way, Mr Ford was 40 when he started building the Model T.

5. Be Willing to Pay the Price
Starting a new career may mean taking a cut in pay, moving to a new community or working harder at your new job than you are at your current job. But if things go as well as you plan, there’s hope that you’ll end up enjoying paying the price, whatever it may be. Sounds pretty good, right?

What’s in it for You?
Consider these possible benefits of a successful midlife career change:

  • Job satisfaction
  • Professional success
  • Higher pay
  • Better hours
  • More fun and less boredom
  • Job security

And these are just a few of the possible career change benefits.

Making a midlife career change may not be easy and it may not be quick, but if done right it could be the best gift you ever gave yourself.

Imagine how much fun it will be working at a job you love, doing something that offers the job satisfaction, and professional success you want.

It’s possible. Millions of others have made successful midlife career changes. Why not you?

Claire Lister is Owner and Managing Director of Pitman Training Group, specialists in Office, IT, Administration, Finance and Business skills. Pitman Training helps thousands of career changers, job searchers and career climbers secure their dream jobs. She works to co-ordinate the company’s approach, and ensure they are always developing new ways of supporting our learners with practical training that really gives them the edge. Their mission is focused on helping people achieve their employment goals, to provide them with more fulfilled futures. She loves being a part of creating more successful businesses and individuals, nationally and internationally.

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