Changing careers at any age

Changing careers can feel like a daunting task.  Maybe you have spent years at your current position.  You have been working your way up the corporate ladder.  You have exhausted all your options at your current company, but you know it is time for a change.

No matter what age, changing your work involves a lot of…work.  It takes time and effort to really find the next stop on your career path, and, if you are already working a full-time job, that leaves limited time for your career search.  Throughout the process, there is a sense of starting over or, in some cases, moving backwards.

If you can overcome some of the initial obstacles, changing careers doesn’t have to feel like a step backwards at all.

In fact, there are many resources in your community to help you get back on your feet and moving towards a more fulfilling and lucrative career.  Let’s examine some of the ways in which you can change careers at any age, best practices for goal setting, and resources in your community to help you get going.

Update career skills

Fighting ageism

Many people are concerned that showing an older age on a resume will deter hiring managers during the hiring process.  However, if you can focus less on age, but more on demonstrating a wealth of experience from your past positions, then the age becomes a strength instead of a weakness.  If you can show how you will bring tremendous value to a new company, then the age becomes a non-factor.

As a hiring manager, if I was reviewing a candidate with 20 years of experience working with customers, demonstrating leadership, managing projects, and producing results, then that is someone who I would absolutely consider as much (or more) as a twenty-something straight out of college.  I would consider the older candidate to bring far more value to my company in the end because experience in business is difficult to gain.

The hard skills of what I need in a candidate would be just as important.  If an older candidate is not up to date on their technology skills used on the job, then that becomes a problem.  As a manager, I don’t have time to train someone on the technology needed to complete the job nor do I want to pull someone else off their job to provide extensive training.   That would be too much lost time as a team.

While some training is expected, as a hiring manager, it would be important to me to know that a new hire walks into the job on day one ready to produce results, using the tech skills needed, and having the soft skills to work within our company culture.

If you are missing technology skills that make you the best candidate possible, regardless of your age, consider a professional certification program to help you up-skill today.

Changing careers; making moves

If you are ready to jump to a new career, you should consider if this is a lateral move or a complete reboot of your career.  Accepting a new position that may utilize some of your previous experiences but provides new challenges would be easier to reach.  But, if it is a lateral move it still may not fulfill the career goals you have set.

When you recognize that you need to start over in a new field, you should accept that you may have to start with some entry or junior level work to build enough experience.  For most design, marketing, and business careers, those candidates who go above and beyond to build a comprehensive portfolio of work often will often find more positions available to them. The work you show in your portfolio is what a hiring manager wants to see that you will bring to the new position as well.

To best prepare yourself for a complete career change, it is important to first educate yourself to the latest skills used on the job.  Professional certificates or degrees can help you get the credentials you need to validate to employers that you have the knowledge.

While in school or after graduation, consider project-based work to continue to build your portfolio.  At Digital Workshop Center, you will work on small assignments throughout your time in your programs.  You will also complete a comprehensive Capstone project that will add even more assets to your portfolio.  This is a tremendous start, but it is important that you keep building your portfolio and show a wide range of skills.

More importantly, you want to demonstrate portfolio examples that exactly align to the type of work that you are applying for in this new position.  For example, if a job posting is asking you for examples of content creation, you need to show several examples of your work with logos, branding, and copywriting involved so a hiring manager can clearly see you have what they are looking for in a new hire.

Skills to change careers

Update your skills

Whether you are currently unemployed or you are actively searching for a new position while at your current job, it is important to stay on top of the latest and greatest skills in your field.  Employers want to know that you have put in the work, and that, while you may be changing careers, you are prepared and ready to do so before day one.

You can start with subscribing to industry newsletters or online magazine.  You can get involved with forums and discussions on sites like Reddit.  But, if you want to truly show an employer that you are dedicated to this new field, then you want to provide a formal credential.

Attending online classes of any kind would help an employer know that you are taking this career change serious and doing all you can to be prepared.  Depending on the complexity of the subject, you could do a self-paced, open online course.  Or attend a popular industry webinar.  However, these often result in a simple certificate of completion. 

One of the most economical and popular ways to show your dedication to the new career is to obtain professional certifications.  Certificates are a valid credential that are typically issued through a Department of Higher Education or a recognized third-party.  Professional certificates have gone through an advisory process to be reviewed and recognized as providing students with the skills they need to be successful once hired.

Digital Workshop Center provides a wide variety of professional certificate programs that all end in a formal credential which will look great on you resume to employers.  More importantly, you will graduate with the job-ready skills you need to be successful once hired.

Certificate programs for career change

Changing careers should be exciting, but it certainly can be challenging.  If you set realistic goals for yourself, and recognize the difficulties that may lie ahead, then you can craft a reasonable plan to help you get you where want to go with your career.

If you are looking for some more guidance, connect with a student advisor from Digital Workshop Center at no cost, and learn about the countless ways we have helped students get back to work since 2006.

Interested in learning more?