How to Make a Career Change in Your 40s

career change in your 40s

Looking for tips on how to make a career change in your 40s? You’re not alone! Many people find themselves at a crossroads in their professional lives as they enter their 40s. Whether you’re looking for a new challenge, seeking better work-life balance, or pursuing a passion, a career change can be a fulfilling and exciting journey.

You might be wondering if you are too old to make a career pivot, or maybe you are terrified of making a mistake. The Bureau of Labor Statistics actually found that people will change jobs or career paths an average of 12 times during their career. That’s kind of a lot. Basically, this means that it’s pretty common for today’s workers to change jobs and career paths. Employers are used to candidates who don’t have a linear career. It really comes down to how you market yourself and sell your transferable skills.

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In this blog post, we’ll explore some practical tips and insights to help you navigate how to successfully make a career change in your 40s. Specifically, I will cover assessing your core attributes, researching new fields, aligning or acquiring necessary skills, effectively updating your professional materials to support your career pivot, and how to sell yourself in an interview.

Step 1: Assess Your Core Attributes

To change careers at 40 successfully, it’s helpful to begin with a deep and honest self-assessment. Understanding your personality, strengths, values, and interests, as well as reflecting on your past jobs, is crucial in identifying a new job and/or career path that will be both satisfying and sustainable.

  • Personality: Consider personality assessment tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Big Five Personality Traits to gain insights into your work preferences and environments in which you thrive.
  • Strengths: Identify your core competencies and skills that have contributed to your successes in past roles. Tools like StrengthsFinder can offer valuable insights! Also, keep in mind that while it’s important to choose a career that aligns with your natural strengths, it’s also important that you enjoy using those strengths.
  • Values: Clarify what values are most important to you in a career. For example, autonomy, work-life balance, contribution to society, or financial reward, to name just a few. My advice is to write out a list of your top 20 values. Next, narrow them down to your top 10 more important values. From there, select your top 3-5 values that you absolutely have to have in your next job.
  • Interests: Reflect on activities and passions that genuinely interest you. Sometimes, hobbies or long-standing interests can lead to rewarding careers.
  • Past Jobs: Analyze your previous roles. What did you enjoy most, and what would you rather avoid? This reflection can guide you towards a career that aligns more closely with your skills and interests.
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Step 2: Research Growing Occupations

After self-assessment, the next step to making a career change in your 40s is to research occupations. This involves:

  • Market Research: Utilize resources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) or industry-specific reports to identify fields experiencing growth as well at best paying careers to start at 40 and best careers to start at 40 with no experience. Another great tool for exploring careers is O’Net, which has information about training and education, growing fields, and how your interests and skills align with different career paths.
  • Networking: Connect with professionals in your areas of interest on LinkedIn to gain insights into industry trends and potential opportunities.
  • Informational Interviews: Learn how to find jobs in the hidden job market and how to conduct informational interviews with individuals working in your target field to understand the realities of the job and industry.

Step 3: Aligning Skills and Re-skilling

Once you’ve identified a new career path, it’s crucial to evaluate how your current skills align with those required in your chosen field. If there are gaps, consider ways to acquire the necessary skills or qualifications.

  • Transferable Skills: Highlight skills that are relevant across industries, such as leadership, communication, project management, and problem-solving.
  • Re-skilling: Explore options like online courses, certifications, workshops, or even part-time studies to acquire new skills or credentials. Platforms like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, and edX offer courses in a wide range of fields.
  • Volunteering or Part-time Work: Gain experience in your new field through volunteering or taking on part-time roles related to your career interests.

Step 4: Updating Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

Transitioning your resume and LinkedIn profile from your old career to your new path is an important step in the process of making a successful pivot.

  • Tailor Your Resume: Focus on transferable skills and achievements relevant to your new career goal. Use a functional or combination resume format to highlight these skills over specific job titles or industries.
  • Craft a Compelling LinkedIn Profile: Update your headline and use keywords to reflect your new career direction and how you can add value. In the summary section, narrate your career transition story compellingly. Write in the first person and focus on why you’re passionate about this new path and how your previous experiences will allow you to make a valuable contribution in your targeted job or career path.
  • On LinkedIn, ask current and former coworkers and supervisors for recommendations. Offer to write one in return! Join LinkedIn groups and professional associations and participate in discussions related to your new field to increase visibility and credibility.
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Step Five: Explain Your Career Pivot in a Cover Letter

If you were laid off or took time away from the workforce to raise kids or take care of family, the writing a targeted cover letter is a great way to explain this type of circumstance. In addition, a cover letter can also allow you to drive home how your background and experience are a great fit for your targeted role.

I get asked all the time as a professional resume writer if hiring managers read cover letters. Some do and some don’t. Here’s the reality: if you write a strong letter that is tailored to the company and job, it will never hurt your candidacy! It can also potentially set you apart from the competition.

Step Six: Practice Telling Your Story in an Interview

Inevitably, you will get asked the question: why do you want to make a career change in your 40s? It seems like a simple question. However, if you haven’t taken the time to reflect on why you are making a change and how your background makes you a good fit for your targeted role, a hiring manager will not be convinced.

Interview practice is key! Even if you are practicing in front of a mirror, saying your answers out loud will help you fine-tune your narrative. Even better, get a family member or friend to do a role play with you so that you can practice answering interview questions and also get real-time feedback.

In Conclusion

To change careers at 40 takes both courage and patience. Give yourself a big pat on the back (not too hard) for being brave enough to tackle this process! Remember to take things one step at a time. Though sometimes challenging, this journey can also be incredibly rewarding if you follow the steps I’ve outlined.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you successfully make a career change in your 40s?

    Making a successful career change at 40 involves careful planning and consideration. Start by assessing your interests, skills, and values to identify potential new career paths. Research the industries and job opportunities that align with your goals. Network with professionals in your desired field and seek informational interviews to gain insights. Consider obtaining additional education or certifications if necessary. Update your resume and tailor it for your new career.

  • What are some key factors to consider when making a career change in your 40s?

    When you change careers at 40, several factors should be taken into account. Firstly, evaluate your financial situation and determine if you have the resources to support a career transition, especially if it involves a potential decrease in income during the initial stages. Secondly, assess your transferable skills and identify how they can be applied to your new career. It may also be beneficial to consider the current and projected job market for your desired career. Additionally, networking with professionals in the field, seeking mentorship, and gaining relevant experience or education can greatly enhance your chances of success in making a career change at 40.

  • Are there any success stories of individuals who made a successful career change at 40?

    Absolutely! To learn more about how to change careers at 40, click on the link below. Many individuals have successfully made career pivots later in life and have found fulfillment in their new professions. Learn about inspiring stories of people transitioning from one career to another at 40. These success stories highlight the importance of thorough planning, determination, and adaptability. By leveraging their existing skills, learning new ones, and confidently pursuing their passions, these individuals have been able to thrive in their new careers.

  • Lee Cristina Beaser

    MS, CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer)

    Lee brings over two decades of expertise in guiding individuals towards career success. Having helped thousands of professionals in a wide variety of industries, she has a deep understanding of the intricacies of the job market. Lee founded The Career Counter, a platform dedicated to providing busy people, especially moms returning to the workforce, with tools and services tailored to their unique career goals.

    Our Founder has over 20 years of experience helping people like you

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