Changing Careers: Starting a New Career at 30

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Changing careers can be a rather complex matter. Finding a new career, polishing your CV and getting hiring managers and recruiters to give you a shot can quickly turn into a nightmare if you don’t have some basic guidelines to help you painlessly get through this process. As such, many are hesitant to take the leap and, as a result, get stuck in careers they hate.

These people generally end up either miserable or making a midlife career change. But if you’re in your 30s and you’ve realised that you’d rather be doing something else, it’s time to take action and change careers. Why delay the inevitable, after all?

Why Do So Many People Want a New Career at 30?

If you’re thinking about changing careers at 30, then you should know that you’re not alone. The majority of the workforce reports being disengaged or unhappy at work, and for many, the problem is that they find themselves in roles which do not align with their interests and passions.

This is often the result of having to choose a career at a very young age. If you think about it, most of us are pushed towards picking a career path before going to university, when we are still just teenagers. As you probably realise, a teenager’s priorities and an adult’s can be drastically different. Not only that but, as teenagers, few of us really know who we are and what we want, while our interests and passions can, and often do, change by the time we reach our 20s. It is, therefore, unsurprising that many of us end up seriously considering a career change at 30.

Of course, not everyone is thinking about changing careers because they’re unhappy with their decisions. There are also people who realise that there’s no future in their industry or who are looking to develop their skills and learn new things. Whatever the case, you should know that you’re not alone and that there are millions of people in their 30s with the same concerns as you.

Changing careers at 30, as intimidating as it may be, is possible, and you’re strongly advised to take this leap because the more you delay it, the harder it will be for you later down the road. What’s more, you owe it to yourself to commit yourself to a career that is meaningful to you.

How to Change Careers at 30

What many professionals considering a career change at 30 fail to realise is that their experience in the workplace is a huge advantage, even when it’s in a completely different setting. Remember that your biggest competition will be recent graduates who won’t necessarily be as experienced and, therefore, as trustworthy, as you.

All you need is to leverage your experience and to have a strategy that will allow the hiring manager to focus on the positive aspects of hiring someone from a different background. Here are a few pointers:

1. Calculate the Risks

The first step to take should always be to calculate the risks. As you probably have rent or a mortgage to pay, you don’t want to end up making a decision that is going to be costly to you. So, start by understanding exactly what this career change could mean for your life.

It could mean that you’d need to start at the bottom of the food chain again, something that you might be reluctant to do if you’ve already achieved a few things in your current career. What’s more, a career change generally means that you’ll need to retrain (maybe even go back to university) which is not only costly but also might take time away from your family or social life.

You should also consider what your target career could mean financially. Could you leave with a decreased salary, for example? Is it a sacrifice you’re ready to make? Think of all the parameters that go into play and this will help you make a smarter decision.

2. Leverage Your Skills

If you’re determined that changing careers at 30 is the right move for you, then you need to figure out how to do it. And the solution is simple: you need to use the skills and experience you’ve gained from your job so far to your advantage.

Take a step back and make a list of all of the soft skills you possess because they will give you a leg over competition. To gain these skills, someone needs to work in an office and have others depend on them, something which most graduates have never done and it’s precisely what could make an employer pick you.

List them on your CV and remember to bring them up during the job interview, and the hiring manager is bound to become more interested in you.

3. Use Transferable Skills

Besides the skills mentioned above, however, you also need to take into account your transferable skills as they are the true star of the show and they can make getting a new career at 30 more plausible for you.

Transferable skills refer to those skills which can be utilised in both your current career and your target career. They could be soft skills (teamwork, communication, etc) but they can also be vocational. So if you work for a legal firm, for example, and are interested in a career in a non-for-profit, your expertise in offering legal counsel to clients is a transferable skill.

Listing them in a prominent way in your CV will go a long way in getting the hiring manager to realise that they could benefit from your services, so craft your CV patiently and carefully.

4. Put Some Money Aside

Many people rush to quit their jobs as soon as they’ve decided that they want a career change, but that’s not always wise because finding a role in your target career might take more time than you think. The key is to be patient and sensible.

If you believe that you’d be better able to concentrate on job hunting after you quit your job, then make sure that you’ve put some money aside before handing in your resignation letter. Usually, having the money to cover your living expenses for the next three to six months can put your mind at ease and it can help you concentrate on getting a job in your new career.

5. Find a New Career Wisely

Finding a career that aligns with your passions does not always mean that you should give up your job to make your livelihood through your hobby, especially if you are convinced that it wouldn’t be profitable.

Finding a new career means finding a role that is of interest to you and matches your skill set and potential. Changing careers at 30 means you need to ensure that you possess the skills to handle the workload that goes hand-in-hand with your chosen role.

To do that, you need to do a bit of self-evaluation and think of what you are good at and what you’re not good at. Be honest with yourself and take into consideration what you enjoy doing and what you dislike. It’s also a good idea to try an aptitude test as it will match you to your true potential; however, make sure you don’t rely solely on your results as they can be rather generic.

6. Network

It may seem as we keep returning to networking and how beneficial it is to one’s career, but that’s because it really is. Knowing the right people means better chances of finding a job in the role you’re after, while it can also boost your chances of getting hired.

Keep in mind that a huge number of positions are never advertised because employers rely on employees to refer people over, while most hiring managers would be more accepting to give someone a shot if someone they trust has put in a good word for them.

Start attending events and expand your circle of professional connections as you go. Remember to network outside your industry and don’t forget that LinkedIn can be a powerful tool in this aspect.

7. Create a Strategy

Passion and enthusiasm for your target career will go a long way in getting hiring managers excited about you, but they are often not enough.

What you need to do is to build a tailored strategy that will help guide you through your next steps. A strategy can help put your career transition into a realistic timeframe and it can help direct you towards every step you need to take.

8. Expand Your Skill Set

In order to successfully transition into a new career, you’ll often need to gain vocational skills. To do that, you may need to go back to university or take up a course. What might also be beneficial is to volunteer as this will help you get some work experience in your own free time. Remember that when you apply for a job, you need to convince the hiring manager that they won’t be wasting their time with you, meaning that they need to see the majority of the job’s requirements addressed in your application.

9. Own Your Diverse Career Background

You may instinctively want to hide your background but the truth is that you can’t and, more than that, you shouldn’t. Your diverse career can help you bring a fresh perspective to your new role, and this might be something that the hiring manager is looking for. Your diverse career background also gives you a chance to stand apart from the crowd, something that the rest of the candidates will be struggling to do, so don’t be afraid to use it to your advantage!

10. Choose a Career that Speaks to Your Heart

Identifying a new career is the tricky part of switching roles because you’re probably worried that you may be making a mistake from which there’d be no turning back. But the reality is far from it: 30 is the age when you are supposed to determine what you really enjoy doing in order to commit to it for the remaining 30+ years of your employed life. This means that it’s perfectly acceptable to change careers a couple of times till you find the one that you truly enjoy.

Keep in mind that choosing a career which you enjoy will also help you be more productive and committed.

A career change at 30 doesn’t have to be complicated and it’s not impossible. Identify a role that brings you joy and then develop a strategy that will allow you to convince employers to hire you.

What do you think is the trickiest part of finding a new career at 30? Let me know in the comments section below.