Important things to consider when changing your career in your 50s

by | Apr 10, 2020

Is it too late to consider changing your career in your 50s?

The simple answer is no. It’s never too late to change your career. If you’re considering changing your career in your 50s, you will have a wealth of experiences, skills and competencies to take to the next employer and this will give you lots of options to explore. In a fast-paced jobs market and ever-changing climate, it’s good to have options. There is also a real need to be highly adaptable in these challenging times. The more experience and skills you have the more options and opportunities are open to you.

Why consider changing your career in your 50s?

First, it’s important to think about your reasons for changing your career in your 50s?  This will identify your motives and help you decide on the right course of action and the right career choices:

  • Promotion or progression
  • Change of sector or industry
  • Increase in salary
  • De-motivation in your current job
  • At risk of redundancy
  • Working relationships have gone stale
  • Just fancy a change

Understanding the reasons for changing your career in your 50s will help you prioritise your needs. If you are looking to increase your salary, for example, then you may need to be willing to commute or commit to long hours or relocate or re-train potentially. All these things will determine where you look and what you need to do.

Skills analysis

At this stage of your career, you will have a long list of valuable and probably varied experiences, knowledge and skills to transfer to the next employer. Take the time to map out all that you can offer. Go into as much detail as possible at the start of this process and identify experiences that you have particularly enjoyed.

Look at conducting a SWOT analysis which will enable you to see the full picture.

Strengths: Write down all your experiences, skills, knowledge, qualifications, and the resources you have available (money, time, equipment, car, home office, computer, mobile phone, garden, workshop, software packages etc.) Don’t forget to factor in all the things you enjoy doing and are good at. You may even explore converting your passions into profits by starting your own business.

Weaknesses: We prefer to reframe ‘weaknesses’ and consider these to be areas for improvement or development. These are opportunities to develop existing skills and learn some new ones. Review your technical skills, behavioural competencies and knowledge gaps.

Opportunities: This could be a reference to the external jobs market. Research what’s going on in your sector and industry. Keep updated with projects, trends, the economy, environmental issues, politics etc. We are currently in the middle of the worst health crisis and potentially economic downturn however, there are still opportunities to explore.

Threats: Again, this section could be looking at the external market and what’s impacting the jobs market. We are in unprecedented times currently with the developing situation with the Coronavirus and even the experts don’t know the full impact and aftermath of this devastating condition. Keep reading the articles and news in your sectors.

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Research

Once you have a really good idea of what you offer the next employer, it’s time to research! Start by mapping out the location or locations you would like to work. If you have decided the commute into the city is not for you, then you already have the location mapped out. Identify the companies in this area and sectors and start reviewing their websites and career pages. Consider the current work climate as this will be an indication, whether it’s the right time to make a move. Ideally, you’d like to move into a market that’s growing.

In our current climate, there are many industries that have closed their doors at the moment and only time will tell the extent of the damage Coronavirus will cause. However, there are still businesses operating during these troubled times. We still need our infrastructure to be able to survive and deliver much needed medical equipment, medicines, food, utilities, water and we need transport systems operating to get our key workers to where they are needed.

Motivation

Before you jump ship, consider all the activities and tasks you really enjoy. Consider the nature of the work. What is your ideal environment? What type of people do you want to work with? Are they career orientated or fun or professional or creative? The more factors you consider, the more you’ll be able to identify the right opportunities.

If salary or promotional prospects are not your priority, then you may be able to focus more on doing something interesting. If money isn’t your driver then you could even explore converting hobbies and passions to profit.

Ageism

Having coached thousands of people over the years, this is one of the common topics of conversations. Will my age be a problem or barrier? Now, there are laws to protect against ageism however unfortunately, it does still happen. The research demonstrates it’s reported more when changing careers in your 50s unfortunately.

Aviva carried out a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 employees aged 45-plus.

Lindsey Rix, managing director of savings and retirement at Aviva, said: ‘Age should not be a barrier to opportunity – but our findings suggest employees are worried about age discrimination. We want to challenge this concern.”

Diversity

Thankfully, there are lots of companies embracing diversity in the workplace. These companies understand and appreciate that truly embracing diversity is a source of innovation, creativity, and competitive advantage. It’s heartening to know that there are good companies out there that want to create diverse workplaces and they aren’t just doing it to follow the rules. They actually understand the benefits of multi-cultural organisations.

Instead of ‘thinking outside of the box’, it’s ‘thinking outside many boxes’.

Salary and status

Obviously when changing your career in your 50s, something to consider carefully is whether the salary and status in the job are important. If you have held a management position then ask yourself what you have enjoyed about being a manager. If for example, you’ve enjoyed the autonomy or challenge? Then how can you replicate in the next career? If you didn’t enjoy the weight of responsibility then taking a lower-level position or grade may work well. It’s always good to ask yourself the reasons for enjoying a particular responsibility or not enjoying.

This will make your decision making very powerful and there’s a high chance you will be aligned to your career values. So, the answer to the question “Is it too late to change career in your 50s?” No, it’s definitely not too late. And you have lots to offer both employment and self-employment. Of course, you might decide it’s not the right time to make such an important move and stay in your job. If you decide to stay in your job, then start making the very most of the opportunities in-house and always invest in your continuous development plan.