Are Your 30s Too Late For A Change Of Career?

I remember in my teenage years my Dad was headhunted and offered a job with a rival company. This opened up some discussion about careers and specifically changing them. My Dad told me that one of his regrets was not trying out other career pathways. This has always stuck with me, and has encouraged me to be braver with my career choices.

Supposedly the average person changes their career between 5 and 7 times in their lifetime. And I think when you’re in your 30s you’re starting to feel more secure in your adult status, you’ve probably been working in the same field for a good few years now, and things might be starting to feel a bit stale… Perhaps it’s time for a change?

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There are many reasons to try something new. It could be that your current job simply isn’t working for you anymore - it might have been a perfect fit for you in your 20s, but somehow you’ve outgrown it. Maybe you’re not challenged by what you do anymore. Or maybe you’re finding your role too stressful, or you’re simply not happy there anymore.

If it doesn’t feel right, remember that you have the power to change it! It might not be an overnight fix, but I think it’s important to note how much of our lives we spend at work. (It’s about a third of your adult life) That’s a lot of wasted time and energy on something that’s no longer working for you.

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Once you’ve gotten your head around the fact that your career path might not be a nice straight line, and there may be a few bumps in the road, how do you begin to make the change? I think the best place to start is by assessing the skills that you’ve built up in your career so far, and think about how these would work in other roles.

I changed my career in the year I turned 30. And while switching from working in public libraries, to working in higher education administration isn’t as drastic a change as some - like a friend of mine who went from working in higher education administration to running her own B & B - it was still scary, and still involved learning a LOT of new things!

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But that said, I was able to take a lot of my skills with me, you just have to think a bit more creatively about how you market those skills to new employers. And there are some skills that you’ll need in any role - like customer service - your customer might change, you might go from selling PCs, to ensuring a client receives their report on time - but it’s the same skill!

I think as women we find it harder to identify transferable skills. It’s been said that men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women often apply only if they meet 100% of them. I know I’ve been guilty of this myself, and it frustrates my partner when he’s attempting to explain to me how what I’m already doing is meeting that skill.

Even though I have the attitude that it’s always worth a shot at applying for something, I still struggle to see how my skills transfer. For instance during my time working in libraries I went from working in a “front line” customer facing setting, to working on a project. It took me a while to figure out that stakeholder engagement is customer service and communication!

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We all have valuable skills to offer employers. And what’s more you have skills outside of the workplace that can be equally valuable. Do you have your own blog? Well you’re an expert in written communications, as well as creating content plans, not to mention social media management and communication strategies to make people aware of your blog.

Maybe you run a local rock climbing group - hello leadership and team building skills! Or perhaps you’re always the one in charge of planning office parties, or planned all the socials at university? Well I’d call that event management.

If you’re juggling two jobs, you’re probably a ninja at efficiently organising your time. Etsy business on the side? Well that’s a whole host of skills right there! Marketing, branding, logistics, budgeting and accounting, and sales administration to name but a few.

However, a word of warning, make sure the skills are relevant to the career change you’re aiming for, and don’t over sell the extra curricular skills. You’re highlighting you understand what they want from you, and demonstrating that you can do it even if your experience is unconventional.

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Essentially, don’t be afraid to give something new a go! Life’s too short to spend a third of your life doing something that makes you unhappy or bored. And I think in your 30s is a great time to try out new things - before you’re really settled into adulthood. My big career change came before I got a mortgage, which definitely helped me take a risk!

In the future we’re all going to have to give new things a go, and switch up our careers. We’re often hearing about how technology, and specifically robotics will alter the world of work. It’s said that many jobs we do today simply won’t exist in the future. So if you’re already thinking about doing something new - get ahead of the curve and make that change.

I’ll let you in on secret: changing careers is also a skill. You’re demonstrating self awareness, the willingness to say that wasn’t for me, let’s start again. You’re resilient, you’re problem solving, and taking a creative approach. And what’s more, you’re probably really passionate about what you’re trying to get in to - you know it’s for you, and employers value that.

Written by Aimee, a Bristol Girl who can be found on Twitter as @AimeeLouTweets

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