Is it time for a career change?

If you're experiencing any of the below symptoms, it's time to do something about it...
Woman in a hammock looking at computer

We are currently in an era of quiet quitting. Of putting in the minimum effort at our jobs to ensure we still go home with a paycheck. Or that’s what we’re being led to believe, anyway.

But while career burnout is certainly real as is a feeling of unappreciation and underpayment amongst many of our nation’s employees; according to Indeed Career Coach Sally McKibbin, women in their 40s and beyond aren’t the ones who are partaking in the quiet quitting trend as a result.

“Women’s pay participation and pay parity went backwards in the pandemic,” she explains. “A lot of women had to change their hours to stop working for caregiving. So quiet quitting? That’s not something I think they would do at this age. We have this level of feeling very grateful for the jobs that we are in.”

But what is changing, she says, is a feeling that we want more than just a regular paycheck. We want to work somewhere we feel aligns with us on a personal and professional level. And that is where a new trend is taking place: A mid-life career change.

As the world returned to normal but financial pressures have continued to heighten, it’s made many of us think about what we want out of life. Not just when it comes to flexibility in our hours and places of work; but also around our morals and values.

“That flexibility piece is non-negotiable now,” explains Sally. “People are also thinking, ‘Does this align to my values or my goals? Is it time to be bold and make a move; whether it’s an outrageous step of something I’ve always wanted to try or to start my own business?’ People are re-evaluating, ‘What is my purpose?’”

And that, she says, is what is prompting many women to decide it might finally be time for that career change.

Motivational text being written on a typewriter

How to know if it’s time to change careers

There are plenty of ways to tell if you are ready for a career change, says Sally, but here are a few for starters.

“You may have been in the same career or been going down a particular path, but might now feel that these are things you’re not passionate about. Or you are not inspired to do your best work. You might not feel like you’ve got that energy to get up and go.

“Another thing might be – and this has happened to me – is that you’re not learning anything new in a role you have been in for a particular time. If you are not feeling challenged or excited by your work.

“And then there’s if your career no longer aligns with your values or what you are interested in. Or doesn’t align with how your personal life has evolved. Thes can all be things to get you thinking, “should I still be here or following this path.”

When is it too late to change careers?

The short answer according to Sally? Never.

“It’s difficult, especially women of our age because we have thought we need to stay in jobs for a really long time,” she explains of why a career change feels foreign to many.

“So the advice I would give is to start thinking about your skills and also your interests. Really think about what skills will be transferable whether you know the next career you’d like to be in or not.”

Have you got sales experience? Undergone leadership training? Mastered plenty of workflow tools? Think about those practical learnt skills.

Then, once you’ve got that list, move on to the “what I love to do list”.

“Whether it’s something you’ve done in your current role, past roles or something you like doing externally,” advises Sally. “It might be that you love talking to people and that hasn’t been part of your role before. Or you have a real flair for content creation and that’s not something you are doing in your day-to-day role.

“Write a list of the things you really enjoy and are passionate about. Then try to align that with a role or further roles or a career path you can take that will tick those boxes.”

The final – and vital – list to make next is one of the things you want to stop doing. What don’t you enjoy in your current job and would happily never have to tackle again? Be it wading through spreadsheets, being at a desk all day or – equally – being away on the road, make sure that when you reflect on your career in general you take these things into account.

New chapter being written on a typewriter

How do I start a career change?

It can be daunting, says Sally, to try and move into a new career path with no lived experience. But this is when you need to lean into the fear and do it anyway. And looking around at your own social network – friends, neighbours, family, former colleagues – is a great way to start.

“If you know anyone in that industry or who has the kind of role, get in touch and pick their brains for any sort of helpful insights or opportunities.”

Equally important is doing your own research on organisations you think could be a good fit for you, she advises.

“Reach out to someone in that organization to ask, ‘How did you get into this role?’ People will often say yes to having a chat to you about those sorts of things.” Use LinkedIn as a good way to start your research and also start building a new network.

Resume being written on typewriter

How to write a resume for a career change

You can do all the research and make all the contacts in the world. But it’s time to go back to basics and nail your CV if you want to make the career switch dream become a reality.

“We have some research that says 81 per cent of people put off updating their resume,” says Sally of a simple step that’s often forgotten. “When you are thinking about moving into a new sector it is really important to align your CV to that role.

The same thinking goes for your cover letter. You need to make it pointed and speak to the skills that the particular role is asking for. Tweak your resume and cover letter to suit the job you are applying for – don’t send out the same standard one you have on file.

“Think about the experience you have, your transferable skills. And make sure that you can talk to why you want the opportunity and why you think you’d be a good fit for that organisation as well.”

Recruiters will be looking for key words they have asked about, warns Sally. And in a world where we’re all leaning into technology to make our jobs easier, it’s possible they may have something built in that sweeps for those matching skills.

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