Changing Careers at 30? How to Make a Mid-Life Career Shift

Changing careers at 30 or even 40 or 50 is intimidating but can be very rewarding. Here are tips on taking your career to another level.
how to change careers at 40

Have you ever felt stuck in your career, wondering if it’s too late to make a change? Well, you’re not alone. In today’s rapidly evolving job market, many individuals find themselves considering career changes at various stages of their lives. Whether you’re 30, 40, or even 50, it’s important to understand that it’s possible to take a new route and redirect your career. 

Many careers hold transferable skills that can be applied to other roles within different industries. There is a daunting misconception that a career change requires restarting from square one or that it will take years to become job ready. While some career changes do require going back to the “starting line,” most careers can be changed in a much shorter period than anticipated. 

The Changing Landscape of Careers 

Over the years, the concept of job security has drastically changed. With technological advancements and shifting market demands, industries and job roles have been transformed. This changing landscape requires individuals to adapt and be open to new opportunities. 

Today, it’s essential to embrace lifelong learning and continuously acquire new skills to stay relevant in the competitive job market. The rise of automation and artificial intelligence has led to the displacement of certain roles, but it has also created new avenues for career growth. By keeping up with industry trends and exploring emerging fields, individuals can identify opportunities for career changes that align with their interests and skill sets. 

It is estimated that most people have about 12 different jobs during their lifetime, with career changes becoming an increasingly bigger storyline within those role changes. The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted how the modern worker thinks about work, and this has, in turn, altered the real-world expectations of today’s workforce. 

In 2020, an estimated 37 percent of the U.S. workforce lost their job or changed careers. Individuals are now considering aspects of their careers that before they may have just blindly accepted as the status quo or felt like they were cemented down one type of path. However, that has seemingly changed overnight.  

Workers are looking for an improved work-life balance, remote opportunities, higher salaries, better organizational growth options, deeper job satisfaction, and ultimately more freedom. The most common reasons people want to perform a career 180 boil down to: 

  • Higher earning potential 
  • Greater job satisfaction 
  • Better leadership & management 
  • Flexibility in schedule 
  • A change in personal philosophy  

Why Age Doesn’t Matter For a Career Change 

Often we are our own biggest obstacle. When it comes to a career change, we have conditioned ourselves to believe our life path is already solidified just because we have a specific college degree or have 10+ years of experience in this sector. However, this is the wrong mindset to have. 

Your years of experience in a particular field have given you plenty of transferable skills that will make you an attractive candidate in other fields. In fact, according to Michigan Tech, 61% of professionals globally believe that soft transferable skills are just as important as hard skills — and even recruiters agree! This means that a career change can be successful at any age. As long as you understand how to display your transferable skills and differentiate yourself from other candidates, you will have an advantage over those with less experience. 

There are countless stories out there of successful career changes for individuals in all age groups. Today, more than ever, organizations are making the shift from experience and skill-based hiring to personality and attitude hiring qualifications. While, yes, almost all jobs require some set skills, many roles can be taught with on-the-job training or short boot camps, certificate programs, etc. 

Company leaders are increasingly looking for talent that is hardworking, smart, teachable, and hungry for opportunity. You make a bigger impression by how hard you work and the team-building qualities you bring to an organization rather than the knowledge you carry in your back pocket.  

In addition to how companies are altering their hiring practices, organizational workflows are also making a shift. With an emphasis on agile workflows and increased team collaboration, businesses across industries need employees that want to be there and are willing to give the right type of effort — that is often done by individuals who are happy with their careers.  

This means knowing how to best represent yourself on your resume and in interviews is the key to changing careers in your 30s, 40s, or 50s. 

Highlighting Transferrable Skills and Experience

When it comes to changing careers later in life, you likely have years of experience in a given field. Even though your hard skills may be in your current field, you can still present yourself as a qualified professional in a different industry with your soft skills.

Have you been in a leadership position or led a team on certain projects? These experiences give you lots of opportunities to showcase your interpersonal skills and qualities that make you a strong candidate. On your resume, be sure to focus less on the job titles and more on the universal professional experiences you had such as leading a team, problem-solving, sparking innovation, facilitating communication, and more. 

These transferable skills are applicable to many other positions across a wide range of industries. When interviewing, be sure to answer the hiring manager’s questions thoroughly. We recommend using the STAR Method to highlight your transferable skills. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. By answering questions in this manner, you can show what soft skills you bring to the table. 

Another thing to emphasize during the interview process is your ability to adapt and be coachable. As mentioned before, many roles can be taught with on-the-job training in today’s job landscape. Verbally acknowledge your willingness and eagerness to learn new skills and how to become a better resource every day. 

Now that you understand the importance of soft skills for changing careers, let’s dive into why and how you can change your career in your 30s, 40s, and 50s. 

Changing Careers at 30: Why & How

At the age of 30, you may have already established a career, but if you’re feeling unfulfilled or stagnant, it could be the right time to consider a change. Evaluate your motivations and reasons for wanting a career change. Is it a lack of passion for your current field, a desire for greater work-life balance, or a need for personal and professional growth? 

Assess your transferable skills and explore new industries or roles that align with your passions and interests. Changing careers at 30 can be an opportunity for personal reinvention and discovering new areas of fulfillment. 

Overcoming the fear of starting over and managing expectations are crucial aspects of this transition. Remember, many successful individuals have reinvented themselves and found immense satisfaction by changing careers at 30. By leveraging your existing skills and experiences while being open to learning and growth, you can pave the way for a successful career change.

Changing Careers at 40: Why & How 

Changing careers at 40 comes with its own set of challenges and advantages. By this age, you may have more family and financial responsibilities, which can make the transition seem like a bigger risk or even unmanageable. However, you also bring a wealth of experience and expertise from your previous careers. Leverage these skills to your advantage and identify industries or roles that align with your strengths. 

Reflect on your achievements and the lessons learned throughout your professional journey. This self-reflection can help you identify transferable skills and strengths that are applicable to new career paths. 

Address concerns about ageism and age-related biases by showcasing the unique value you can bring to the table. Highlight the adaptability, resilience, and wisdom gained through years of professional experience. Many employers value these qualities and appreciate the fresh perspectives that individuals changing careers in their 40s can bring to the workplace. 

Changing careers at 40 may require additional planning and preparation, but with the right mindset and determination, it can lead to a fulfilling and rewarding second act in your professional life.

Changing Careers at 50: Why & How 

Making a career shift at 50 can seem intimidating due to age-related stereotypes and biases. However, the good news is that many employers are actively seeking diverse candidates from different age groups. 

Evaluate your motivations for making a shift and assess your transferable skills to identify new opportunities. It’s important to remain open-minded and flexible regarding job roles and industries you may be interested in. By acknowledging the advantages of experience, you can make a successful transition and bring more value to the workplace. 

Be aware of ageism-related stereotypes that could prevent employers from taking your application seriously. Highlight your strengths, such as established career success, leadership qualities, ability to remain composed under pressure, and exemplary problem-solving skills. At this age, great career shift options may include positions in consulting, mentoring, teaching, and training. Leverage your knowledge and experience to bring new value to the workplace.

With companies shifting away from traditional qualifications to personality and attitude-based hiring practices, age is no longer a barrier to a successful career change. The key is to focus on your motivations, transferable skills, and strengths. Keep an open mind when exploring new industries or roles and create a plan for making the transition. With the right mindset and effort, you can make a successful career switch at any age.

Do You Need a Career Change? 5 Questions To Ask Yourself

If you’re feeling burnt out or unfulfilled in your current role, it may be time to consider a new career path. Before taking the plunge, ask yourself these five questions:

  1. What am I passionate about? Reflect on your passions and interests to identify potential career paths that align with them. For instance, if you’re passionate about the environment, you may want to explore a role in sustainability or green energy. You might even be interested in e-commerce or entrepreneurship. Think about your dream job and pursue it.
  2. What are my transferable skills? Assess the experience and skills you bring to the table and identify how they can be applied in other industries or roles. Examples of transferable skills include communication, problem-solving, leadership, and organizational abilities.
  3. Are there age-related stereotypes I need to be aware of? Evaluate the potential impact of age-related biases and identify strategies to showcase your value in spite of these. Acknowledging and addressing these issues can help you demonstrate your readiness to take on new challenges.
  4. What resources do I have access to? Leverage the professional network you’ve built throughout your career and seek help from those who can provide guidance and support on your journey. You may have built up relationships in your old industry or have access to resources such as career counselors and job search groups.
  5. Do I have a plan for success? Create a plan with short and long-term goals that will help you reach your desired career destination. This could include taking on freelance projects, attending industry-specific conferences, or pursuing certifications to enhance your skills.

Changing careers can be challenging but also very fulfilling. To make a successful transition, it’s important to reflect on your motivations, skills, and goals and seek the support and resources you need. There are no limits when it comes to making a career shift — regardless of your age. With the right mindset and planning, you can make a successful transition and reinvent yourself professionally at any stage of life.

Take the Next Big Step with BestCompaniesAZ

If you’re ready to make your next career move, BestCompaniesAZ can help. We specialize in connecting talented job seekers with great companies throughout Arizona that value and appreciate the experience and expertise that those in their 30s and up bring to the workplace. 

Our partners consist of the best companies in the state that understand the importance of a diverse workforce and are committed to providing an inclusive work environment.

Some of the companies that are currently hiring at all age levels include Axon, Workiva, Kubra, American Express, USAA, Desert Financial Credit Union, Northern Trust, and Donor Network of Arizona

Visit our website today to browse more job postings.


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