How to get a job when you’re changing careers after 40

How to get a job when you're changing careers after 40

How to get a job when you're changing careers after 40

You can reinvent your career at any age.

Navigating a career change can be daunting and exhilarating at the same time. It may seem especially scary if you’re going through a career reinvention at the age of 40, 50 or beyond. The good news is that it can be done. According to a study from the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), 82% of adults 47 and older who attempted a career change after the age of 45 were ultimately successful. The key is to recognize that you are not just reinventing your career. You are also redefining yourself as a human being because the process starts from the inside out. If you want to break free from an unfulfilling job and reinvent your career, here are some tips that will help you succeed.

Understand your “why”

The first step is to consider why you want to reinvent your career. Your “why” is the flashlight that will shine a light on the types of opportunities you should be pursuing. Is the stress you are experiencing at work interfering with your health? Maybe it’s time to consider a less lucrative position with shorter hours and more flexibility. Do you have a business idea that you’ve always wanted to pursue? You might be ready to consider being your own boss. Is your industry contracting or growing obsolete? Perhaps a career that utilizes your same skills is the best option.

Take a skills inventory

Think about the skills that you have and the areas you want to develop. Will you need to go back to school or get additional certifications? Invest in yourself by taking classes, attending conferences or hiring a life coach. Harvard University, for example, offers a series of online business courses that cover a wide array of subject areas, including business, computer science and education. Don’t forget capabilities like problem-solving, adaptability, project management and the ability to get results. These are impressive skills that will translate well to almost any career.

Look inward

If you’ve emotionally checked out of your career, you may be on autopilot. You get up, go to work, come home, and do it all over again without feeling any real satisfaction. Now it’s time to look inward and reconnect to your authentic self. It’s what I call shifting from “head” to “heart.” You want to understand exactly what brings you joy and meaning. Identify more clearly what your unique strengths and talents are and how to leverage them more powerfully moving forward. This is a good time to complete self-assessments, both formal and informal. Some examples of personality assessments include the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator and the Birkman Method, among many others. Ask your family, friends and colleagues for feedback about your strengths, weaknesses, image and leadership attributes so you can leverage those insights as you reinvent your career. Take time to identify what your top priorities are in this next phase of your life and write them down.

Shine a light on your most relevant skills. Photograph: Getty Images/Workbookstock

Shine a light on your most relevant skills. Photograph: Getty Images/Workbookstock

Some see redundancy as an opportunity for career reflection and possible change of direction. But often the reality is that getting back in the jobs market post-40 can be a challenge.

Here are some tips on how to improve your chances of success:

Overhaul your CV

Don’t just fire off your existing CV. If you haven’t had to apply for a job in the last few years, be aware that CV-writing standards have changed.

One shift has been the emphasis on relevance. Recruitment strategist Mervyn Dinnen says that one of the biggest mistakes you can make is failing to fully grasp the skills, qualities and achievements that are relevant to a new employer. Rather than focusing your CV on the past, with the usual chronological list of what you did and where, orient it towards your future; highlight the skills and knowledge you would bring to the new role.

As CV formats are fairly flexible, you can tailor your CV to the job or company by removing old or irrelevant details. If you’re worried that your breadth of experience is out of step with the role you’re applying for, and you might seem over-qualified, you can dilute or minimise selected details. Do this with caution though; don’t “dumb down” for roles that would leave you feeling unchallenged, or in a way that leaves large gaps on your CV.

You might also want to age-proof your CV. Although it doesn’t take a lot of guess work to arrive at an applicant’s approximate age, there’s no reason to make it a focal point. Don’t include your date of birth and be selective about how far back you go. CVs should generally only be two pages long, which might mean you need to trim your professional experience and education sections. Recruiters are likely to be most interested in the last ten years or so – you can put a summary of much earlier experience into an “earlier career highlights” section. You could also take the dates off your education.

Dinnen recommends that your CV reflects the contractual end date of your employment and that you provide a brief explanation, such as merger, relocation or restructure.

Make skills prominent

You’ll need to check that your skills and knowledge are up to date. Don’t feel you have to list all your abilities on your CV, especially if, for example, a particular technology is now outdated. If you’re submitting your CV to a job board, remember that it will be assessed for skill keywords. Make sure that your application contains the same skills that a recruiter will be looking for. Mention any recent courses or training you’ve done to understand new technology or methodologies.

Use your network

Building and maintaining a network isn’t a quick fix, but something that will pay off long term. Make sure you have a good mix of industry insiders, recruiters, ex-colleagues and people you know working for any competitors on your list of people to tell that you’re looking for work. Network online too: platforms like LinkedIn offer ways to build your visibility.

Start setting up meetings with hiring managers and ask for referrals to people in the companies that interest you. Asking for advice on how best to get in to a new industry or company is a great way to research and meet people before you even send your CV.

Weigh up all the opportunities

You might need to ease yourself back into employment through other types of work. If you can do it, a period of self-employment or voluntary work is a good way to demonstrate your skills. Portfolio careers, where you can combine different roles in a variety of ways, are increasingly popular, giving you flexibility and variety.

Play to your strengths at interviews

If you’re applying for jobs under your current experience level, you’ll need to show why you’re applying and address any concerns that you’d leave as soon as something better turned up.

But don’t down play any attributes which might be helpful, such as having a deeper experience, greater skills or knowledge, or the ability to mentor and train younger colleagues.

As with any occasion when you’ve lost a job, be careful that there’s no hint of bitterness or negativity in your attitude. Appear interested, energetic and enthusiastic for the role, and give the impression that you’re excited about the future and the chance to make contributions to the organisation.

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Once upon a time the career you chose in your teens stuck with you for life. Now, it seems the concept of a career has changed with more than 134,000 Australians in their 40s studying at the time of the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics census.

If you’re thinking of changing careers out of necessity, to get out of a rut, or do something you’ve always dreamed of, then think positive. It can be done, and there are opportunities out there for you.

Every year thousands of 40-something Aussies pull themselves out of their entrenched routines and change careers. Take Sydneysider Catherine O’Gorman for example. Catherine fell into IT work in her younger years but found as she got older that there was something missing. She wanted a career that was more beneficial to others.

With the support of her family Catherine enrolled into a four-year psychology degree in her mid-40s and now works in the psychology department while also completing a PhD. She finds her new profession of more value personally than her old job. “It’s all consuming,” she says.

While changing careers is a big life move regardless of your age, there are some smaller steps you can take and ideas you can put into action to get you where you want to be.

Study to upskill

It’s no longer just the kids that are enrolled in TAFEs, universities and colleges. In fact, 41% of all students in Australia are older than 25. It’s common for people switching careers in their 40s to find that they need to retrain, or study completely new skills. In the 21st century study doesn’t necessarily mean going back to uni full-time or sitting in a classroom either. Studying online in your own time is a possibility. If you’re unsure if you could do it, find people in your circle who have managed to complete a qualification whilst working and learn from their experience, or check out online resources for tips on managing study, family and work commitments.

Seek advice

Changing careers can be a huge decision, particularly if you feel like you may not have the opportunity or drive to change again in your 50s or 60s. A career coach can help steer you in the right direction by helping you find the best course to meet your career goals.

Get a mentor

Find someone in your new industry who will mentor you. A mentor can be a valuable resource when it comes to making contacts and securing a job as well as developing new skills.

Involve your family

Catherine’s advice to others is to communicate with the people around you because they will be part of the journey. Also, consider how you and your family will cope with reduced income if you need to cut back on work in order to retrain, and how your loves ones can support and motivate you throughout your study.

Work on your transferable skills

We all have skills that would be useful in another profession. That might be computer skills, soft skills, customer service experience, design or a host of other talents that younger job seekers may lack. Write an inventory of your skills and fill the gaps with study or by getting involved in projects at work or community organisations.

Retrain at your employer’s expense

If it’s possible to move from career A to career B at your existing organisation, then you might want to consider corporate training or having your employer partially pay for study.

Be prepared to start from the bottom

Sometimes it can be challenging to humbly accept the menial tasks required if you’re starting at the bottom of a new industry – especially if you know you have a wealth of experience in another field. If you can adopt a flexible and enthusiastic mind-set it will shine through at job interviews, and you can show-off your talents even more once the role is secured.

Make use of contacts

In a 20-year career you’ll have met many people with valuable insights, knowledge, and connections. Find out what your old school buddies, friends, and colleagues are up to and consider getting in contact and networking. People are often honoured to be asked for assistance, so don’t hesitate to call upon the expert advice of a good friend or previous mentor.

Plan ahead

Write yourself a career change plan, break it down into bite-sized actions and set time frames for each step. Review your progress regularly to ensure you’re moving ahead.

Need advice for changing careers in your 20s, 30s, or 50s?

What You Need to Know Before Taking Your Next Step

How to get a job when you're changing careers after 40

At 50 years old, you are much closer to retirement age than you are to the age you were when you first started out. If you plan to retire at 67, when you can collect your full U.S. Social Security benefits, you have about 17 years left of your career. Depending on how you feel about what you do to make a living, that can seem like a very short time or an eternity.

Your occupation may no longer bring you the satisfaction it once did. Perhaps you were never happy with it and finally feel ready to explore other options. At this point in your life, you may wonder if the effort it will take to make a career change is even worthwhile. Whether you are 30 or 50, you shouldn’t spend time working in a career in which you are unhappy. Your age, though, will play a role in how you go about making your transition and your decision about what career to pursue next.

Before making a move to change your career, consider the pros and cons to determine if it’s worth the time and effort.

Many equate age with experience

Changing careers now is simpler than doing it later

Career satisfaction can have a positive effect on your health, relationships, and life

You may face age bias in the job market

You could face a pay cut

You have limited time to learn and use new skills

The Pros and Cons of Changing Careers at 50

You may feel confident, at age 50, that you can take on any challenge that comes your way. Or, you may question whether you want to start over at this point in your life. With retirement on the horizon, you may wonder if it makes sense to stir things up. Ask yourself if it’s better to spend every day looking forward to being close to two decades older.

Rushing your life away, as you eagerly anticipate not having to go to work every day is not the best way to live. While there are no guarantees that a new career will make you love work, it’s unlikely you will become more satisfied with your current one over time. Making a career change now is much simpler than doing it later on.

Career satisfaction will have a positive effect on your health, relationships, and life in general. Being in the wrong career is stressful. No, it won’t be easy to make the transition, but if you go about it in the right way, it doesn’t have to be difficult. You just have to decide what you want to do next and whether your choice is realistic. Then you have to figure out how to make it all happen. It is not easy, but it is doable.

What’s Difficult About Changing Careers at 50?

At age 50, there’s a good chance you have quite a few expenses. You may be putting children through college, while also paying off a mortgage. At the very least, you may be responsible for rent and possibly car loans and other debt you may have accumulated over the years.

The good news is, you may also have some savings put away. Anything that is liquid could be used to help get you through a career change. Don’t dip into your retirement account though. There will be a penalty, and besides, you will need that money later.

Breaking into a new field becomes more difficult with age. This is particularly true if you have to compete with younger workers for entry-level jobs. You may face age bias from some employers, but many equate age with experience. Highlighting your transferable skills on your resume will help.

Immerse yourself in a new career by doing an adult internship before you fully commit to it.

How to Make a Career Change at 50

You are more likely to be satisfied with a particular career if it is a good match for your personality type, aptitudes, work-related values, and interests. Therefore, before you go any further, you should learn about yourself by doing a self-assessment. You can hire a career counselor or other career development professional to help you with this step. Find out if your local public library offers this service for free. Another option is to contact the career services office. Check with a local college or the one you attended, which may provide complimentary career services to alumni. Completing a self-assessment will leave you with a list of occupations that are a good fit for you based on your characteristics.

Next, explore the occupations on your list. Although an occupation seems suitable, you have other things to consider at age 50. With just slightly less than two decades ahead of you to settle into a new career, the time you spend preparing for it is a more important factor than it would have been if you had done this earlier. You should avoid choosing occupations that require many years of education or training. While you may occasionally see a story about someone who made a late midlife career change and became a doctor or lawyer while in their 50s, that could be an unrealistic choice for several reasons. By the time you finish your education, you would have only a few years left to work so your investment wouldn’t pay off. You might also face age bias both in admissions and in getting a job when you graduate.

It is much more practical to choose an occupation that takes advantage of your transferable skills and doesn’t require too much additional education and training. With that said, if it’s your heart’s desire to pursue a career that requires multiple years of education and training, and you have the financial resources to do it, don’t let anything stop you.

Also make sure to learn about job duties, employment outlook, and median earnings. Evaluate this data to help you pick the most suitable occupations from your list. Think about which job duties you like and which you don’t. While you don’t have to love every task, you must at least be willing to do all of them regularly. If any job duty is a deal breaker, take that occupation out of the running.

Earning a lot of money is nice, but it won’t make you any happier with a career that has few other redeeming qualities. Instead of choosing the occupation with the highest earnings, make sure the salary will cover your expenses, let you save money, and allow you to take part in the leisure activities you enjoy. Also, consider the employment outlook. If you can’t get a job, there is no point in choosing that occupation.

How to get a job when you're changing careers after 40

I can’t remember the last time I posted my age to the internet. Maybe five, six years ago. Or more.

43 is like 307 in internet years.

But since my breasts turned on me, I figure, why not? I’m lucky to be alive at all.

People who are over 40 are always complaining about something. These days, one of those things is how hard it is to bounce back from unemployment over 40.

Here’s how to get a job if you’re a forty-something woman.

TIP #1: Get over yourself.

I have a woman-friend who is forty-something. She’s also a Marine. She’s really smart, and super-straightforward, and very funny, and uniquely engaging, and aggressively caring. Recently, she moved across the country, and she has to sort of start over career-wise, as I understand it. This sucks. You’re pushing 50 and looking for work in a new city. That isn’t easy.

Every once in a while, she’ll reach out to me and ask me for advice. Like jobs she’s going to apply to, and she showed me her resume, and she asks me what to wear to interviews. That sort of thing.

Here’s what she was doing. She was aiming way too low. It’s like the way she saw herself in her head was how she was trying to sell herself to the world. That’s not what you need to do as a forty-something woman. You need to identify what Oprah would call your “best self,” and that’s what you need to sell.

You need to aim too high. You need to market the person you want to be. You need to forget all the insecurities — about the lines on your face, and the size of your butt, and how you didn’t work outside of the home for 10 years because you were too busy taking care of a husband and raising a family — and you need to create a persona that is the person someone will want to hire.

No one wants to hire you. They want to hire the person you want to be.

TIP #2: Deal with the way you look.

I think I was in my mid-30s or maybe a little older when I started getting Botox. I lived in Los Angeles, and I was on TV, and all my thirty-something friends were cramming stuff in their faces. Then I stopped. A few years later, I started again, and my body was like, uh, no, and it didn’t even respond to the Botox. So I tried another brand, called Dysport, which is basically the same thing. And then I started doing yoga more, and eating better, and lost weight, and felt better, and decided that sticking poison in my body wasn’t something I really wanted to do.

These days, I don’t even want to inhale near a bottle of Windex, and I sometimes think of all the stupid things I’ve done to my body and my brain over the years with regret, and then I consider you just never know either way.

Here’s an interview with a 55-year-old CEO who got a constellation of plastic surgeries, and she says it made her more successful professionally: “Why This 55-Year-Old CEO Opted for 10 Plastic Surgeries.”

Not only did my romantic options explode, but my career instantly shifted into a higher gear. I was suddenly being courted by senior partners, included in meetings with the CEOs and CFOs of current and prospective clients. I thought, ‘Wait a minute — I’m the same person I was before the surgeries.’ But now I looked like a bombshell in addition to being really good at my work, and it definitely opened up more opportunities. That’s when I began to think of the surgeries as an asset and an investment.

Here are the opening lines to Marguerite Duras’ The Lover:

One day, I was already old, in the entrance of a public place, a man came up to me. He introduced himself and said: ‘I’ve known you for years. Everyone says you were beautiful when you were young, but I want to tell you I think you’re more beautiful now than then. Rather than your face as a young woman, I prefer your face as it is now. Ravaged.’

At 43, my face is ravaged. It bears the consequences of the life I’ve chosen to live — from Porn Valley to Hurricane Alley. That’s the way it goes.

If you live your life in a box, maybe you end up looking perfect on the outside. If you live your life outside the box, you end up with a face like a map, the tributaries revealing all the things you’ve done, and you wear your battle scars for all to see.

TIP #3: Take responsibility for your assets and your mistakes.

There are many reasons you may be forty-something and looking for work. Maybe you saw it coming, and you didn’t do anything about it. Maybe you were blindsided, and then you got downsized. (I got downsized.) Maybe the husband you had grown to hate left, and you’ve got two children to support, and a mortgage to pay, and the economy in your town blows spectacularly.

I don’t know what your situation is. But you need to be honest about yourself to yourself. You will not be fine if you do nothing. If no one is hiring you, it’s quite possible you are doing something wrong. Being unemployed is terrifically difficult, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do about it.

1. I chose self-employment.

2. My skills are diversified.

3. I’m a digital professional.

Today, that’s the kind of worker that it helps to be: flexible, self-propelled, forward-thinking. The old way is over. This is the new way.

You are not who you think you are. You are who you fear you are. You can reinvent yourself today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that.

It’s not about the shoes you wore to the interview, or your resume, or what your experience means. It’s about magical thinking, and willing things into being, and the random stuff that starts happening when you stop winging left and start winging right.

How to get a job when you're changing careers after 40

I cover the business of sex. I’ve written for The Atlantic, Harper’s Bazaar, Slate, Salon, and The Daily Beast. In 2008, TIME named me one of the year’s best bloggers.

I cover the business of sex. I’ve written for The Atlantic, Harper’s Bazaar, Slate, Salon, and The Daily Beast. In 2008, TIME named me one of the year’s best bloggers. I’ve appeared on CNN, NPR, and “Politically Incorrect.” To email me, click HERE. To subscribe to my newsletter, click HERE. This blog has been cited by The Wall Street Journal, Ad Age, ESPN, BuzzFeed, and Katie Couric.

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When I look in the mirror, for the first 5 seconds I still see a twenty- year -old. Then the visible wrinkles around my eyes and jowls provide a friendly reminder that I’m not twenty anymore. At that moment in the mirror, I challenge myself physically as I don’t feel like I’m over forty, and the face I’m looking at cannot be accurate, but according to my birth certificate, it is. I mean, hell, I still feel young, so how can I look so different? Simply put, I’m just a twenty-year-old that now has twenty-five years of work experience, a family, and has journeyed through the ups and downs of life. Even though this is what I believe, I now know others don’t feel the same, especially when it comes to the workplace.

Here is my recent reality check. Last year I left my corporate job of 14 years. I was in a space where I had the opportunity to find a new job with a new company. I felt fresh, excited and limitless. Although it had been a while since I last interviewed, I thought, “No problem. I’ve got this. I used to any get any job I wanted, so finding a new one should pretty be easy.” After a few interviews, good interviews I thought, I wasn’t getting hired. Frustration set in because I could not figure out what was so different this time around. After all, my resume was stronger and more accomplished than in my younger years.

But something had changed. I aged.

Call me naive, but I did not think that my age would be an obstacle in the workplace. I had heard this from other women over the years, but I chose not to believe them because certainly, it would never happen to me.

Here is a true story:

A sales recruiter was helping a sales manager fill an open position. The recruiter sent her a resume of a female candidate with a college graduation date of 1998. The sales manager abruptly turned down the resume. In addition, she let the recruiter know that she didn’t want to see any resumes with college graduation dates prior to 2003. This was the sales manager’s criterion for what she deemed to be a viable candidate. Not experience, not achievements, not abilities. Simply age.

This true story was painful for me to hear. Here was a woman selling out other women and contributing to the stigma that we fight every day and sadly her perspective is a harsh reality. However, let this statistic give you another reality check and perspective. In 2024, women over 65 will make up roughly the same percentage of the female workforce as older men do of the male workforce. Additionally, twice as many women over 55 will be in the labor force as women ages 16-24.

Knowing the stigma, knowing the numbers, and the reality, what is the best way to approach finding a new job later in life? Here are 5 tips when looking for a new job over the age of 40:

1. Use your network

Sending our resumes to career websites will do nothing for us. We get pushed aside as we are categorized. The tip here is to use our network of colleagues, former business associates, and friends to find companies who are hiring and will have a genuine interest in what we can do for their organizations. This method does work. Finding like-minded individuals with the same goals of working smart and getting stuff done will provide the best platform for finding a new working environment.

2. Show off your skills

At this point in our careers, we have a proven list of accomplishments and skillsets. We have navigated some of our toughest times and have already been through the learning. Because of this we require less training and possess the right skills, because yeah, we know how to do it. We need to show off our confidence and accolades to a potential employer. They need to know that our leadership skills and experience will fit in flawlessly with their company.

3. Be bold

We can ask harder questions in the interview process and as an employee. Perhaps questions that challenge company methods or goals. If anything as women, unfortunately, we have been taught to be compliant and agreeable to get through the stepping -stones of our careers. We don’t have to do that anymore. We have arrived. Work experience has taught us to think quickly, make decisions and share opinions. We have a lot to teach, and hiring companies need to appreciate this.

4. Seek a mentor, be a mentor

In recent weeks I have had great women mentor me. Women of a certain age. Women who are drama free, make sh*t happen and don’t sweat the small stuff. I appreciate them, have learned from them and have committed to do the same for others. This is important as this will help us change the tide and break the stigma.

5. We are already tech-savvy

Much to the disbelief of others, age doesn’t stifle our tech knowledge. It’s who we are as a society. Most of us already use work-related apps like Zoom, Slack, Dropbox, and others. The point is, our tech knowledge isn’t lacking, so that is no excuse for hiring companies or managers. We are already there. This is not a hindrance.

The battle continues. In my earlier years as a woman in the corporate world, I fought to make a mark. Now, I’m fighting the same female battle in addition to 20+ years of life and work experience. This should get easier, shouldn’t it? It doesn’t, so it is up to us to change it. We have to change the mindset by challenging the current stigma. Because we have arrived and we are not going anywhere.

How to get a job when you're changing careers after 40Raising children, going back to school, personal tragedy – no matter why you had to take a lengthy break from your career, the prospect of re-entering the workforce can be terribly intimidating. Many people who have taken long breaks from the workforce find themselves facing unique challenges when it comes to landing a new job. Luckily, there are ways to overcome many of these obstacles and achieve success, no matter how long you’ve been away from the office environment.

That being said, navigating the ever-changing job market is no easy task, and it can be especially difficult when there’s a long pause on your resume. However, knowing what sort of challenges you might face will help prepare you for success. Let’s take a look at a few common problems that people face when re-entering the workforce:

1. A Changing Job Market

We have all heard of college graduates who struggle to obtain entry-level positions in their fields due to their lack of experience. Those who are re-entering the workforce may find themselves facing a similar problem.

The job market can change rapidly in very short amounts of time, making the skills that people have irrelevant or out-of-date in the blink of an eye. Those who are being forced out of retirement may particularly struggle to relearn the skills they need to get back into their respective fields.

2. Age Discrimination

New developments in one’s field aren’t the only challenges that those looking to re-enter the workforce face. Even though age discrimination in the workforce is illegal, your age can still hurt you in your hunt for a job. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, more than 21,000 complaints for age discrimination were filed in 2013, and 64 percent of workers say that they have seen or experienced some form of age discrimination.

Those who have been away from the workforce for a while may be in more danger of facing age discrimination, simply because they have aged in the intervening years. Everyone grows older – but, unfortunately, some employers still have not reconciled themselves to this fact.

3. Self-Doubt

Self-doubt is a huge proHow to get a job when you're changing careers after 40blem facing many job seekers today, especially those who have been unemployed for long periods of time. After an extended absence from the labor force, some people may doubt their own skills or abilities when it comes to finding a job again. Some may wonder whether or not they truly have what it takes to return to the workforce, and these feelings can grow stronger when you face the rejections that are a part of any job search.

Tips for Success

Successfully re-entering the workforce after a long break may not be easy, but it can be done. Whether it’s been 5 years or 20 since you last held a job, you can find success with these tips in mind:

1. Brush Up on Your Skills

A lot can happen in the span of just a few years. If you haven’t kept up with new developments in your field, you have likely fallen behind the competition. Keeping your skills relevant will boost your chances of landing a job when the time comes. Consider taking a few classes, reading some good books, and scouring the Internet for information on the latest trends in your industry.

2. Weigh All Your Options

The job market is tough, and it can be difficult to find a decent job. While you may have your hopes set on a particular role at a particular company, it would be wise to weigh all job offers that come your way. What may not look like a perfect fit at first may turn out to be an excellent choice.

3. Consider a Career Change

Before you apply to the same sorts of jobs you held twenty years ago, consider the person you are today and whether or not the career that you once had is a good fit for you now. When re-entering the workforce, many people use the opportunity to change careers. That may be just the ticket for you.

4. Don’t Hide Your Employment Gap

Employers will see right through your attempts to hide a long gap in employment. Instead, be upfront about your employment gap and demonstrate how you have been using that time to take classes, get How to get a job when you're changing careers after 40involved in your community, keep your skills relevant, and generally improve yourself as both a worker and a human being.

5. Tell Others About Your Job Hunt

Networking is important for any job hunt. Casually telling others about your search for employment could help you out quite a bit. One of your friends or family members might have information on a new opportunity you may have otherwise missed – and they may even be willing and able to refer you, which will greatly boost your chances of success.

Getting back into the workforce after an extended absence can be dispiriting, but remember: It’s not impossible. Keep your skills relevant and strategize carefully, and you can succeed in re-entering the workforce no matter how long you’ve been away.

How to get a job when you're changing careers after 40

Image by Hilary Allison © The Balance 2019

Interested in a new career? People seek to change careers for many different reasons. Your career goals or values may have changed; you may have discovered new interests that you would like to incorporate into your job, you may wish to make more money, or have more flexible hours, just to name a few.

Before you decide, it is important to take the time to evaluate your present situation, to explore career options, to decide if your career needs making over, and to choose a career that will be more satisfying for you.

Why People Change Careers

There are many different reasons why people want to change careers. Of course, it’s a personal decision with many factors involved. Joblist’s Midlife Career Crisis survey reports on the top five reasons people change careers:  

  • Better Pay: 47%
  • Too Stressful: 39%
  • Better Work-Life Balance: 37%
  • Wanted a New Challenge: 25%
  • No Longer Passionate About Field: 23%

The Benefits of a Career Change

The Joblist survey reports that most people were happier after they made the change:  

  • Happier: 77%
  • More satisfied: 75%
  • More fulfilled: 69%
  • Less stressed: 65%

In addition, the people who change careers were making more money. Survey respondents who changed careers for better pay earned an additional $10,800 annually compared to their previous positions.

10 Steps to a Successful Career Change

Review these tips for assessing your interests, exploring options, evaluating alternative career paths, and making the move to a new career.

  1. Evaluate your current job satisfaction. Keep a journal of your daily reactions to your job situation and look for recurring themes. Which aspects of your current job do you like and dislike? Are your dissatisfactions related to the content of your work, your company culture or the people with whom you work? While you’re doing this, there are some things you can do at your current job to help you prepare to move on when it’s time for a change.
  2. Assess your interests, values, and skills. Review past successful roles, volunteer work, projects and jobs to identify preferred activities and skills. Determine whether your core values and skills are addressed through your current career. There are free online tools you can use to help assess career alternatives.
  3. Consider alternative careers. Brainstorm ideas for career alternatives by researching career options, and discussing your core values and skills with friends, family, and networking contacts. If you’re having difficulty coming up with ideas, consider meeting with a career counselor for professional advice.
  4. Check out job options. Conduct a preliminary comparative evaluation of several fields to identify a few targets for in-depth research. You can find a wealth of information online simply by Googling the jobs that interest you.
  5. Get personal. Find out as much as much as you can about those fields and reach out to personal contacts in those sectors for informational interviews. A good source of contacts for informational interviewers is your college alumni career network. LinkedIn is another great resource for finding contacts in specific career fields of interest.
  6. Set up a job shadow (or two). Shadow professionals in fields of primary interest to observe work first hand. Spend anywhere from a few hours to a few days job shadowing people who have jobs that interest you. Your college career office is a good place to find alumni volunteers who are willing to host job shadowers. Here’s more information on job shadowing and how it works.
  7. Try it out. Identify volunteer and freelance activities related to your target field to test your interest e.g. if you are thinking of publishing as a career, try editing the PTA newsletter. If you’re interested in working with animals, volunteer at your local shelter.
  8. Take a class. Investigate educational opportunities that would bridge your background to your new field. Consider taking an evening course at a local college or an online course. Spend some time at one day or weekend seminars. Contact professional groups in your target field for suggestions.
  9. Upgrade your skills. Look for ways to develop new skills in your current job which would pave the way for a change e.g. offer to write a grant proposal if grant writing is valued in your new field. If your company offers in-house training, sign up for as many classes as you can. There are ways you can position yourself for a career change without having to go back to school.
  10. Consider a new job in the same industry. Consider alternative roles within your current industry which would utilize the industry knowledge you already have e.g. If you are a store manager for a large retail chain and have grown tired of the evening and weekend hours, consider a move to corporate recruiting within the retail industry. Or if you are a programmer who doesn’t want to program, consider technical sales or project management.

Write a Career Change Resume and Cover Letter

When you’re ready to start applying for jobs in your new industry, be sure to write a cover letter that reflects your aspirations, as well a resume that is refocus based on your new goals. Here are tips for writing a powerful career change resume and a sample career change cover letter with writing advice.

How to get a job when you're changing careers after 40

I can’t remember the last time I posted my age to the internet. Maybe five, six years ago. Or more.

43 is like 307 in internet years.

But since my breasts turned on me, I figure, why not? I’m lucky to be alive at all.

People who are over 40 are always complaining about something. These days, one of those things is how hard it is to bounce back from unemployment over 40.

Here’s how to get a job if you’re a forty-something woman.

TIP #1: Get over yourself.

I have a woman-friend who is forty-something. She’s also a Marine. She’s really smart, and super-straightforward, and very funny, and uniquely engaging, and aggressively caring. Recently, she moved across the country, and she has to sort of start over career-wise, as I understand it. This sucks. You’re pushing 50 and looking for work in a new city. That isn’t easy.

Every once in a while, she’ll reach out to me and ask me for advice. Like jobs she’s going to apply to, and she showed me her resume, and she asks me what to wear to interviews. That sort of thing.

Here’s what she was doing. She was aiming way too low. It’s like the way she saw herself in her head was how she was trying to sell herself to the world. That’s not what you need to do as a forty-something woman. You need to identify what Oprah would call your “best self,” and that’s what you need to sell.

You need to aim too high. You need to market the person you want to be. You need to forget all the insecurities — about the lines on your face, and the size of your butt, and how you didn’t work outside of the home for 10 years because you were too busy taking care of a husband and raising a family — and you need to create a persona that is the person someone will want to hire.

No one wants to hire you. They want to hire the person you want to be.

TIP #2: Deal with the way you look.

I think I was in my mid-30s or maybe a little older when I started getting Botox. I lived in Los Angeles, and I was on TV, and all my thirty-something friends were cramming stuff in their faces. Then I stopped. A few years later, I started again, and my body was like, uh, no, and it didn’t even respond to the Botox. So I tried another brand, called Dysport, which is basically the same thing. And then I started doing yoga more, and eating better, and lost weight, and felt better, and decided that sticking poison in my body wasn’t something I really wanted to do.

These days, I don’t even want to inhale near a bottle of Windex, and I sometimes think of all the stupid things I’ve done to my body and my brain over the years with regret, and then I consider you just never know either way.

Here’s an interview with a 55-year-old CEO who got a constellation of plastic surgeries, and she says it made her more successful professionally: “Why This 55-Year-Old CEO Opted for 10 Plastic Surgeries.”

Not only did my romantic options explode, but my career instantly shifted into a higher gear. I was suddenly being courted by senior partners, included in meetings with the CEOs and CFOs of current and prospective clients. I thought, ‘Wait a minute — I’m the same person I was before the surgeries.’ But now I looked like a bombshell in addition to being really good at my work, and it definitely opened up more opportunities. That’s when I began to think of the surgeries as an asset and an investment.

Here are the opening lines to Marguerite Duras’ The Lover:

One day, I was already old, in the entrance of a public place, a man came up to me. He introduced himself and said: ‘I’ve known you for years. Everyone says you were beautiful when you were young, but I want to tell you I think you’re more beautiful now than then. Rather than your face as a young woman, I prefer your face as it is now. Ravaged.’

At 43, my face is ravaged. It bears the consequences of the life I’ve chosen to live — from Porn Valley to Hurricane Alley. That’s the way it goes.

If you live your life in a box, maybe you end up looking perfect on the outside. If you live your life outside the box, you end up with a face like a map, the tributaries revealing all the things you’ve done, and you wear your battle scars for all to see.

TIP #3: Take responsibility for your assets and your mistakes.

There are many reasons you may be forty-something and looking for work. Maybe you saw it coming, and you didn’t do anything about it. Maybe you were blindsided, and then you got downsized. (I got downsized.) Maybe the husband you had grown to hate left, and you’ve got two children to support, and a mortgage to pay, and the economy in your town blows spectacularly.

I don’t know what your situation is. But you need to be honest about yourself to yourself. You will not be fine if you do nothing. If no one is hiring you, it’s quite possible you are doing something wrong. Being unemployed is terrifically difficult, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do about it.

1. I chose self-employment.

2. My skills are diversified.

3. I’m a digital professional.

Today, that’s the kind of worker that it helps to be: flexible, self-propelled, forward-thinking. The old way is over. This is the new way.

You are not who you think you are. You are who you fear you are. You can reinvent yourself today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that.

It’s not about the shoes you wore to the interview, or your resume, or what your experience means. It’s about magical thinking, and willing things into being, and the random stuff that starts happening when you stop winging left and start winging right.

How to get a job when you're changing careers after 40

I cover the business of sex. I’ve written for The Atlantic, Harper’s Bazaar, Slate, Salon, and The Daily Beast. In 2008, TIME named me one of the year’s best bloggers.

I cover the business of sex. I’ve written for The Atlantic, Harper’s Bazaar, Slate, Salon, and The Daily Beast. In 2008, TIME named me one of the year’s best bloggers. I’ve appeared on CNN, NPR, and “Politically Incorrect.” To email me, click HERE. To subscribe to my newsletter, click HERE. This blog has been cited by The Wall Street Journal, Ad Age, ESPN, BuzzFeed, and Katie Couric.