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How to change career paths later in life

Charlotte Dennis our consultant managing the role
Published on 25 September 2019
The career path you choose when you’re young doesn’t always suit you as you get older and develop new skills and ideas. In fact, less than a quarter of the UK’s workers say they’re always happy in their current job, and 86.3% say that enjoying their job is a better measure of career success than having a high salary. This suggests there’s a significant chunk of the population who could – and perhaps should – be considering a career change to maximise their happiness and satisfaction levels. But how can you do this when you’re already entrenched in one industry and discipline?

Changing careers later in life is undoubtedly daunting but can be incredibly rewarding. It’s said that the average person will change career between five and seven times in their life, so why shouldn’t one of those changes occur when you’re a bit older and more experienced? After all, this is when you have a better understanding of what you want from a job and what you have to offer. Here’s how to approach it:

Think about what you really want

Before you move from one career to another, take the time to really think about your reasons for doing so. Every job will have negative elements, whether that’s tasks you’re not interested in, challenging colleagues or inflexible work hours. Starting by assessing your priorities and ranking what you’re most looking for in a new career. Consider if you can afford to take time off in between roles, how much of a pay cut you’d be prepared to take to start over and whether a move from permanent work to contracting might suit you. Make a list of the non-negotiables and the things you’re willing to be flexible on. For example, you might dream of becoming a validation engineer within life sciences, but are you prepared to gain the relevant engineering qualifications and experience within a pharma or medical device company in order to advance? If you’re embarking on a career that requires additional study, can you afford to do this full-time or is it something you can do in addition to your current job? Make sure you fully understand why you want to move and what this move will entail before you take the plunge.

Assess the job market

While your career change may be fuelled by passion, it’s still a wise idea to research the job market and understand the level of demand – and available jobs – in your desired field. Similarly, if you’re not sure exactly what your next step might be, there are plenty of tools available to help match up your experience, qualifications and interests with a new career. Look at salary guides for your desired career and locations where there are the most opportunities. CIPD’s labour market outlooks can help you to understand supply and demand within the UK labour market, while a dedicated recruitment consultant can help to guide you towards your career goals. 

Be proactive in your approach

If you are changing careers later in life, don’t be put off by competition from younger job seekers! Your years of experience – both in work and life – are a huge asset that you should position accordingly in your job search. When updating your CV, highlight the marketable skills and qualifications you have gained and how these can transfer to your new career. Your soft skills in communication and leadership may be things that less experienced candidates are lacking. Similarly, organisations are often looking for candidates who are adaptable, willing to learn and can get to grips with new technologies and innovations, so be upfront about your technological abilities and willingness to take on new challenges.

As well as connecting with a recruitment consultant who specialises in your desired field, you may want to optimise your LinkedIn profile and use it more assertively for networking. More than 75% of people who change jobs use LinkedIn to inform their career decision, with the social networking platform used by the vast majority of recruiters and employers when sourcing and attracting new talent. Don’t be afraid to connect with others in your desired field, either – you never know which connection might lead to your next opportunity!

Make the move with Quanta

Our specialist recruitment professionals are always excited to help connect brilliant individuals with their next role. Whether you’re looking to change careers or simply take the next step in your industry, we’d love to hear from you. View our latest jobs or contact us now