How To Make a Career Change at 40

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 9 November 2022 | Published 20 May 2021

Updated 9 November 2022

Published 20 May 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A mid-life career change can be exciting yet overwhelming, especially if you're unhappy in your current position. Instead of continuing on your current path, it might make sense to consider a career change at 40. A career change is a time to reassess your skills, follow your passion or try something new. Choosing the correct career change at 40 can help you to achieve your personal and career goals.

In this article, we will discuss why you may want to change your career at 40, and how you can do so with some tips for switching your career.

Related: How to Change Careers

Why make a career change at 40?

Here are a few reasons why you may want to change careers at 40:

Job satisfaction

One of the most common reasons for a career change at 40 is job satisfaction. The career or job you chose during your early years isn't the job you want to spend the rest of your working life doing. For example, in your early twenties, you may want to become a comedian, but your career adviser or parents advised investment banking. Whether you took up the career at will or by force, being an investment banker wasn't your passion.

Furthermore, your current job responsibility may not be the same as it was 15-20 years back. As the organisation you work for has progressed, the working conditions and job roles will change. Even though you initially loved your job, you may become less motivated to do the same work. Following your passion is a valid reason for a career change at 40.

Related: What Is Job Satisfaction? (Plus Tips on How To Increase It)

Better relationship with managers

Another reason for feeling trapped in a job could be poor relationships with your manager. It could lead to more stress, low morale and less commitment to excel at the job. Most adults at 40 would prefer a stress-free and peaceful working environment. Whether you're unhappy with your manager or their work style, it's never too late to switch your career. Pursuing your mental happiness is a valid reason for a career change at 40.

Related: How to answer 'why are you looking for a new job?'

Better flexibility

For people in their 30s, being fully immersed in their work is understandable, but devoting similar time to adults over 40 years may not be feasible. You may have a spouse, children and grandchildren with whom you want to spend time. As you mature, your personal life gets busier and it's natural for people to look for careers that offer flexibility and a more healthy work-life balance.

If your current job requires too many hours or your working hours clash with the time you spend in your social circle, you may search for careers offering flexibility and a better work schedule. Usually, people over the age of 40 prefer jobs that match their current lifestyle.

Change in core values

As you mature, your values and priorities may change. Values such as intellectual stimulation and altruism are the driving force for happiness and satisfaction in the workplace and at home. While you were once passionate about your company's mission, it may longer seem aligned with your core values. You may have had a spiritual awakening that changed your outlook. Or, while financial success was a necessity in the early 20s, you may now seek stability over money.

It becomes difficult to remain happy when you're unable to live the values and principles that are most important to you. In the long run, careers that align with your values become the key to professional fulfilment.

Related: 10 Types of Core Values (Plus Ways To Identify Your Own)

How to make a career change at 40

For changing your career at 40, you need to follow specific steps. Though these steps may seem challenging, they are likely to help you make your career transition easier. Here are 5 steps to follow:

1. Assess your skills

After understanding the reason for a career change at 40, it's time for self-assessment. Review your past job roles, projects and volunteer work to identify the skills you possess. While your experience may not help your new job, there are several skills, like soft skills and hard skills, that are transferable and valuable to employers.

Self-assessment of skills also helps understand what type of work interests you. For someone creative with words and excellent research capabilities, a copywriter role is better than an accountant's job. After assessing your skills, create a list of potential careers for your future.

Related: How To Create a Personal SWOT Analysis in 5 Steps

2. Do your research and align your skills

Extensive research is the backbone of a career change at 40. Without researching the educational requirement, skills expectations and experience required for a particular career, it becomes challenging to change your career.

Based on your interest and research, align your skills with the career options you list in the first step. Bifurcate your skills into three sections: transferrable skills, training required and advanced skills.

Transferrable skills are those which you already possess and you can use these in your new job. However, there may be jobs that might require the polishing of these existing skills through training. There may be jobs requiring the acquisition of entirely new skills or higher education.

Map these skills to the career options you choose. It will help you to create a shortlist of careers where you can make a smooth transition without spending too much time on training or education.

Related: Transferable Skills: Definitions and Examples

3. Update your resume

After mapping your skills with the career options, you need to update your CV with relevant skills and start sending it to companies that interest you. It's always good to create more than one version of your resume.

For example, you may be working as a software developer for the past 15 years but now want to move into a technical writing role. Highlight the extent of your writing skills and ability in software development. Share links to a technical blog post you wrote. Also, you may include details about your written communication skills and other soft skills relevant to the job position.

Repeat this step to tailor your CV for every job position you apply for. Tailoring your CV for every career helps you stand out among hundreds of applications.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to CV Basics (With Example)

4. Focus on additional training

When applying for a job that requires additional training, try gaining as many skills as possible before sending out job applications.

From taking online courses to enrolling in colleges and taking a low-level internship, look for opportunities to learn new skills. For example, if you plan to move into C++ development, take C++ and software development courses. Sharpen your problem-solving and analytical skills as that will help you prepare thoroughly for the job interview. It's not necessary to master these skills. You should be confident in your new ability.

However, this may mean delaying your career change by several weeks, but it's worth the effort. Mention these newly gained skills in your resume to make yourself a competitive applicant.

Related: Tips From a Recruiter: How to Stand Out When Changing Careers

5. Seek support

With children or grandchildren to support, medical bills to pay, mortgage payments to make and insurance to cover, a mid-life career change can be full of anxiety and stress. Just when you thought of living a comfortable life in terms of happiness and financial security, you start everything afresh.

To help ease your stress and fear, talk to your family members and colleagues about your career change. Letting them know about your decision ensures you have someone to support during your tough times. Furthermore, they might provide you with valuable advice and lead you towards new opportunities. You can even seek support from a career counsellor who can help you find the right career opportunity.

Related: 20 essential pieces of best career advice for professionals

Tips for a career change at 40

Use the following tips to change your career at 40:

  • Have a transition plan. Irrespective of how unhappy you're in your current position, avoid leaving your career until you have a new job offer in hand if possible.

  • Be positive. Changing careers can be a daunting and stressful task. Try to remain positive as this will help you keep moving forwards.

  • Stay up-to-date. In the ever-changing digital landscape, staying up-to-date with technologies and trends increases your chances of employment. Learn and develop your knowledge about the industry you're planning to join.

  • Be confident. Career transition can cause anxiety and stress. You may fear failure in every step you take. Whether it's meeting your family's financial needs or excelling at a new job, confidence is the key to success in a career change.

  • Be adaptable. The techniques that used to work in your previous industry may not yield the desired results in your new industry. So, be open to change and accept it willingly. Being adaptable helps you make a smooth career transition.

Related: Resignation Letter Due to a Career Change: Tips and Examples

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