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How to Change Careers Midlife

Updated on May 25, 2012

There are many reasons a person chooses to change careers in midlife. In this struggling economy, it is not always a choice to change careers when you are over 40. Employees can be forced out by unscrupulous bosses who wish to hire younger workers for less money and benefits. Or, often the person no longer enjoys the career they have worked at for so long and finally decide to follow their true passion. Or, the industry they work in is no longer viable due to changing technology and needs. Or, they may want to earn more money for their retirement years.

Let's stay with the positive reasons to change careers midlife. When they were starting out in the working world many people chose their career for the money or prestige it might give them; more often than not that career was not their true passion in life. By their mid 40s they have decided that they don't want to waste any more time working in a career that they don't like any more or have grown to hate. They start to think of careers they would rather be working in.

Changing careers midlife
Changing careers midlife | Source

What Fields are most Friendly to those Changing Careers Midlife?

When I studied to become a library technician my year was divided into two classes; younger and older. As I was in my mid-20s I was place with the younger class. Most of my classmates were right out of high school, while a couple of us had worked for several years in basically dead end jobs. The older group was made up mostly of men and women in their 40s and 50s; some were changing careers, some where brushing up their skills or needed to have a diploma to keep their current job. Library science is just one of the fields that seems to attract older workers.

According the the US News and World Report in 2009, the fields that often attract and hire older workers are Health Care, Education and Government. These are also fields that traditionally have offered good benefits and often higher pay than other industries.

You may also want to work as an independent contractor or freelancer, or you might want to start your own business. It has been reported by the Business Insider that 80% of all new businesses started in the United States are owned by those over 35.

Find a job you love for a happy life
Find a job you love for a happy life | Source

My Story of Career Change

I was laid off from my job of seven years last year. After one year I am still unable to find a new job so I am working hard to become a full-time freelance writer. Writing has been a passion of mine since I was in my early teens.

Since I made that decision my stress level has plummeted and my health has improved. I still worry about money and I am looking for a part-time job to help make ends meet. I'm not there yet, but I fully intend to get there eventually. It takes a lot of determination, some luck, hard work and dedication to the craft of writing and self-marketing.

Concrete Steps to Career Change

Before choosing to change careers midlife, you must do your research. Once you have decided what you want to do for the rest of your life, find out which of your skills are transferrable to your new career, which ones need brushing up and what skills you need to learn.

There are many free online computer courses that will help you get your skills up to date and fresh; for example you can learn how to operate all Microsoft Office programs for free on their website. If the job you are after uses a software you are not familiar with you can download a demonstration copy to help you get experience using it. Many libraries and community centres also offer free training in computer programs. If you are a writer, create a website/portfolio that you can show to prospective clients or employers. You can also learn skills by volunteering with a local organization.

In order to stay current in the industry you want to work in, attend public conferences to get an idea of the atmosphere or go to job fairs (not necessarily to find jobs but to pick up literature on the various companies and industries).

How to Update your Resume

The most important thing to do when you are changing careers midlfe is to freshen up your resume. It, and the cover letter, are the first impressions that your future employer will get of you so they must show you in the best light possible. If necessary, hire an agency to write your resume for you.

There are many websites that can suggest how to write the perfect resume and cover letter for each job. Your resume ideally should be changed each time you apply for a job so that it is tailored to the one you are applying for.

There are four types of resume; chronological, functional, combination and targeted.

A functional resumes is for those who don't have much work experience or for those over 40; they are the best style to use if you are changing careers midlife.

What is a Functional Resume?

Rather than listing employment chronologically, a functional resume is tailored to the position sought. It starts off with the person's name and contact information, then employment objectives, then related skills, then employment history followed by education and, finally, lists any volunteer jobs, honors and awards you have receive, etc. If you are over 40, you should leave out the dates of your education and not list any jobs you held more than 10 years ago.

Example of a Functional Resume

Edited Word Template
Edited Word Template | Source

Key to a Happier Life

No one wants to spend their days working at a job they hate and they shouldn't; life is too short for that. While it can be scary, changing careers midlife and having the job you really want will make you a happier and healthier person. You may have to take a cut in your wages but it will all be worth it in the end.


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  • erinshelby profile image

    erinshelby 3 years ago from United States

    A functional resume - what an interesting idea for those looking to re-vamp their job search! Thanks for sharing, Uninvited Writer.

  • Cathy Fidelibus profile image

    Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

    Great advice, I will keep this at hand for later.

  • That Grrl profile image

    Laura Brown 4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

    I looked into going back to college a few years ago but it didn't work out. This year my nephew is finishing grade 12, last year of high school. I picked up the college calendar for him, even though he wants to take a course at a different school. I found a course I would really like to take myself. I haven't really mentioned it to anyone cause I don't see how I will be able to do it. But, it sure would be nice.

  • profile image

    ssiddhanta 5 years ago

    Great hub. Thanks for sharing with us. Voted up + share

  • profile image

    donnaMhicks 5 years ago

    Great advice - voted up!

  • Crystal Tatum profile image

    Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

    Great advice for anyone considering a career change!

  • cclitgirl profile image

    Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

    Wonderful hub, UW. I'm actually in my 30s and feel a little ADD when it comes to career choice. I've never really known what I "wanted to be when I grew up". For awhile, I worked at ski areas or doctors' offices. Then, I went back to school and got an education license to teach Spanish. I've been doing that for 6 years and feel like it has been unkind to me (looong story there). Now, I just feel like I need to be autonomous. My job might get cut anyways and I figure it's just the sign that I need to explore freelance writing, digital art and storytelling - my three passions. After reading this, I just might have to do that. :) Who knows what the future will bring, but I'm definitely tired of the frustration I feel at the end of every day. Thanks for writing this - you are an inspiration. :)

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

    Excellent information. I like the layout for the resume also. This is such a timely issue with so many people unemployed or under-employed. Best of luck finding a part time job. Up and useful.

  • profile image

    JJJYYY 5 years ago

    Yeah! And truthful also. You say you are "Not there yet." Starting over at any age can be hard but what other choice is there? Thanks for a good post.

  • Bopi-Cheppu profile image

    Bopi-Cheppu 5 years ago from San Antonio, TX, U.S.A

    Uninvited Writer, Thanks for sharing your experience and tips. In recent times, I have seen several cases of age discrimination in hiring process. As you said, the best option to keep the job is to keep updating our skills and knowledge to be competitive.

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 5 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    I'm in the same boat as you Susan, but I don't think I could handle living in Toronto anymore.

  • Just Ask Susan profile image

    Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I can see how a function resume would benefit me when applying for jobs. Living in a smaller city and being over 50 has been tough for me looking for employment. It seems that all the jobs I do apply for seem to be wanting to hire younger people. Some days it makes me want to move back to the Toronto area.

  • Navneet Thakur profile image

    Navneet Thakur 5 years ago from India

    You are great and your hubs are also great.

  • CR Rookwood profile image

    Pamela Hutson 5 years ago from Moonlight Maine

    Great hub, thanks! The last job I lost was so bad I'm not even looking. Like you, I'm back to just writing. Not really getting rich but I'm getting by. It's tough to make a living these days, but I think older people are resilient and smart and can manage. At 59, I'm done reinventing myself. This is who I am, and it's not really so bad. :)