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Changing your career at age thirty may be the perfect age for you. Here are seven steps to guide in making that change.
By the time you reach your thirties you have many advantages in making a career change. For starters, individuals typically know themselves a lot better than when they selected a career at eighteen or their early twenties. They have developed professional skill sets and work habits by this age, making them more valuable to their future employers. Additionally, the person at thirty often knows which types of work tasks they enjoy and which ones they dread. All of this self-knowledge and awareness gives a person beginning their thirties advantages in finding a meaningful and rewarding career.
Consider the fact that time may be on your side. The majority of us work at least until age 65, and many longer than that for financial reasons. Therefore, it is probably safe to assume you still have at least 35 years of work ahead of you. Beginning on the right career path now is an endeavor that would likely make those years more enjoyable. In addition, at the age of thirty they are prone to have less responsibilities than they would in your 40s and 50s.
Step One: Where do you Begin a Career Change at Thirty?
Shakespeare may have said it best in a famous quote from the play Hamlet: “To thine own self be true.” In job seekers terms this translates into embarking on a journey of self-assessment. Ask yourself questions about what you value in your current job and what you could do without. Examine your interests, take some personality type tests, make note of your assets and work values. It is important that your career gives you a sense of purpose. There are many online tools to help you identify these aspects of your personality and skills. Career Strategist Ronda Ansted at Be the Change Career Consulting (https://www.bethechangecareers.com) has one such tool that has a holistic approach to taking stock of your personality type, interests, skills, and values and helps you find companies that align with who you are and what you are seeking for work fulfillment and how that relates to the rest of your life. It’s called My Career Design Studio (https://www.bethechangecareers.com>my-career-design-studio) and it is worth taking a look at and considering when you are thinking about making a career change at thirty. Ronda writes that she “looks at your strengths and how to leverage them to avoid burnout and find work that you love.”
Now you’ve done a thorough self-assessment, it has naturally led to careers you are interested in and hopefully you are starting to think about companies you are drawn to as well. It’s time to do some research on the companies your considering. LinkedIn(https://www.LinkedIn.com) is an effective tool for learning about which companies have the job titles you’re interested in. Action step: Make a list of your top two or three job occupations and a list of ten companies that have piqued your interest.
Step Two: Explore the Occupations on Your List
Research in detail the actual day-to-day activities you would be participating in. If you don’t enjoy the routine of the daily tasks it isn’t likely your job will fulfill and challenge you. Take a while to look at the job outlook for the positions you’re thinking seriously about. A job outlook is a forecast in the number of people employed in a specific job title over a period of years and compares to a previous period in order to tell whether or not the field is expanding or contracting. (https://www.thebalancecareers.com/joboutlook-525656). A number of industries are growing, despite the coronavirus. For example: Medical and Health, Computer and IT, Customer Service, Education and Training, Sales and Accounting and Finance. Action Item: Look up the job outlook on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website (http://www.BLS.gov).
Step Three: Research Pay and Education or Training
While pay may not be everything it also is something to research and consider. You want to make sure your pay is adequate to meet your expenses, plan for your retirement and have enough left over to enjoy life. Websites like Salary.com, Payscale.com, and O*Net give you salary ranges so you know what your pay will look like at the beginning and how you might expect it to grow. People at the highest end of the pay scale are the ones who have been strategic in their decision-making and highly experienced. The best way to get years of experience under your belt are to enjoy what you do so much you do not notice the passage of time.
Your new occupations of interest may involve more education and training. Don’t let that scare you away. Taking a temporary salary cut may pay off in a big way, after a period of sacrifice, while you return to school or acquire necessary training. Check into online learning options. With the current pandemic we are facing more colleges, trade schools and universities offering their programs online. You may even be able to keep your job while earn your degree, certificate or training. Remember to keep your current knowledge, skills and abilities in mind and parlay those things into experience that may work in lieu of formal education or training, Also, think about services that offer learning opportunities to fill in your gap in skills. Skillshore and LinkedIn Learning are two great resources in gaining the training you need to make a career change at thirty. That being said, you may be able to gain the skills that you need learning on the job. Make sure you explore all your options by talking to people in your new profession. They’ll be able to tell you all the shortcuts. Action Item: Identify the most expedient and cheapest way to gain the skills you’ll need in your new profession.
Step Four: Recreate your Resume
Take notice of the job descriptions and what they appear to be emphasizing. Reevaluate past work history, education and related activities through this prism. Remove irrelevant content and highlight, and add, anything that supports your desired position. Try to stay current with industry-specific language. There are many online tools to help you construct an effective resume. Use a unique identifier to describe yourself, e.g. Detail-Oriented Project Manager. List skills that will be picked up by the Auto Tracking System (ATS). Focus on your Professional Highlights, not just on job duties but on your professional accomplishments as well. Remember employers are looking for effective soft skills like effective oral and written communication and good time management.
How do you communicate your soft skills in a resume? The most effective way is to write up your accomplishments rather than your duties and responsibilities. Focus on the outcomes and impact on your work, especially those accomplishments most relevant to your new profession. Action Item: Write up one accomplishment a day for your resume until you have created something that will stand up against the competition.
Step Five: Write a Stellar Cover Letter
Now is the time to write the Cover Letter of your life. Start out by commenting on how you came across the job, why you are making a career change now. Go on further to explain what attracted you to this position and their company in particular. Make sure you have done your research on these points. Write about how your unique background makes you the ideal candidate for the job. Then close by offering to follow through on contacting the individual who is in charge of handling the hiring.
Step Six: Expand your Network
Chances are, if you are making a career change at thirty, your current professional contacts may not provide you with the entrée you require into your new field. Reach out to the Connectors- people who seem to know everyone- and see what contacts in your career of choice they might have. Join professional groups. In this age of coronavirus that means conferences and events are most likely on hold but there are effective ways to make connections online. For instance, you can go to LinkedIn (LinkedIn.com) and look up professional groups (there are thousands) you might be interested in. Check out the articles that are being posted on LinkedIn (LinkedIn.com) and make comments or even share articles yourself. You can also search for individuals or companies that pique your interest. Ask someone who shares the same job title of interest and ask them to a virtual coffee visit or an informational interview (see below). In order to search for a particular job title in LinkedIn (LinkedIn.com), type hashtag and then the job title, e.g. #financemanager. Action Item: Identify at least 10 people you’d like to talk to who are active in the field or profession you are interested in.
Step Six: Conduct Informational Interviews
Once reserved for entry level job applicants, the Informational Interview can be an ideal tool for the job change candidate. An Informational Interview is a meeting you set up to learn more about a position, company or industry (https://www.theladders.com/career=advice/questions-to-ask-in-an-informational-interview?) In an ideal world, you would want to conduct this interview in person but due to the coronavirus it will probably be in a virtual environment. In a short Informational Interview be sure to ask the questions: How did you break into this industry? What do you recommend for someone like me who is trying to get an entry level job in this field? In a longer interview you might ask what strategies they employed for a career search that were successful and see if they would take a quick look at your resume and give you feedback. Always close with gratitude and seek an opportunity to stay in touch (https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/questions-to-ask-in-an-informational-interview). Action Item: Reach out to the people you have identified in Step Five and ask for 15-20 minutes of their time.
Now, you are equipped to take on that career change at 30!
You can see why your age may be working in your favor. You have done the hard and worthwhile work on an effective self-assessment. Your research has led you to careers and companies you are interested in. You have taken the time to make some industry connections through professional groups and informational interviews. You have recreated and updated your resume and you have learned how to write a winning cover letter. Most of all, you have gone a journey to better understand yourself and your work values and desires. Be proud and confident in the next steps on your path. You will land on that career that feeds the self without sacrificing the soul.