We’ve talked about changing careers at 30 and changing careers at 50, so it seems natural to address the decade in between. Making a career change in your forties is a bold, sometimes necessary, sometimes inspired move that can bring about great change in your professional life.
The Challenges of Making a Career Change at 40
In the US, the average age of retirement is 65 for men and 63 for women. That means that at 40, you’re about halfway through your working years. Abandoning your current career can be both financially and psychologically challenging.
You also may have more financial responsibilities than you did in your thirties. If you have children, you may be considering how you’ll pay for their college tuition. You may have a mortgage. You’re likely contributing to a retirement account.
All of this adds up to some difficult circumstances when it comes to starting a new career. But of course you already know the challenges associated with your mid-life career change. You probably also know that transitioning careers in your forties can positively impact your life and that those challenges mentioned above can be overcome. So, how should you approach things?
You Don’t Have to Hit the Reset Button
Many people making mid-life career changes worry about the time it will take to climb back to their current income level and develop new skills. While there will likely be some interruption to the ascending line graph, changing careers doesn’t have to mean starting all over.
Identifying your transferable skills and jobs that align with your abilities can make a mid-life career change easier or even possible for those who don’t have the luxury of taking a steep pay cut.
Not sure which jobs align with your skills and experience? Using Jobscan’s free career change tool is a good place to start. You may also want to take a career assessment test to see which jobs line up with your personality and innate capabilities—those typically become your strongest soft skills.
5 Tips for Making a Mid-Life Career Change
Adjust your resume
A resume tailored to your new prospective career is essential to your job search. You’ll likely come up against applicant tracking systems (ATS) and eagle-eyed recruiters looking for important keywords and skills. Where possible, include skills from the job description on your resume and update your resume headline to reflect the new position.
- Read more about career change resumes
- Use Jobscan to find out how well your resume aligns with any job description
Craft a stellar career change cover letter
Because it’s not likely your resume will be a perfect match for a new career, you’ll need a compelling cover letter to fill the gaps. In your cover letter, you can explain how your old career has prepared you for a new role, highlight your transferable skills and communicate the unique value you can bring to the company.
- Read our career change cover letter sample.
Network on LinkedIn
Establishing a personal connection with a hiring manger can be of great value when changing careers. Get active on LinkedIn. Reestablish connections with old friends and colleagues and reach out to those who may be able to help you in your career transition.
You can also optimize your LinkedIn profile to attract recruiters.
Earn certifications and develop skills at home
Educating yourself online is easier than ever. Fill your knowledge gaps with online courses and certification programs. Then add those certifications and new skills to your resume.
- Discover 8 certifications to add to your resume (for free!)
Ask for referrals from colleagues and superiors
Without a history of success in a similar role or industry, hiring managers may be looking for evidence that you can do the job. Assure them of your work ethic and competencies with prepared referrals and/or LinkedIn endorsements.