Articles From the Team

Over 40: is it too late to change career?

I'm in my early 30s and I’m on my third career change! I’ve undertaken formal qualifications in two of the three career paths and I’ve never thought of this as unusual. At a recent social event, I was met with surprise when I discussed my previous decisions to change career.

I was talking to someone slightly older than myself who was shocked I’d “give up” my qualifications after working so hard (and spending a lot of money) to get them. To him, it was preposterous I’d walk away from the law, and when I explained my motivations, I was met with the same bemused look.

Fast forward a few hours (and a few wines later) and we got talking again: the same conversation.

I found out he’s worked in the same industry for 20+ years. He’s held various positions, climbed the ladder and is in a comfortable position financially. I also found out that he “hates” his job. Now I was the one looking bemused – why stay in a job for so long if you’re unhappy? He answered that he was too old and he’d invested too much time to make a change.

A recent article in the Independent suggests that British people think about changing jobs 10 times a year and one in five of us would consider re-training. Interestingly, the same study shows that most people over the age of 47 believe it’s too late to change career paths.

On average, we spend over 3500 days at work in our lifetime! So, surely you must be happy in the work you do.

Back to my new friend: in his early 40s, clearly unhappy and unwilling to change career. I asked him when he thought he might retire – he laughed and said he’d be lucky to be in a position to retire before he’s 70. That’s around 30 more years in a job he doesn’t like! 30 years ago he was still in school and hadn’t given his future career much thought.

Recent studies reveal that the amount of people still working over the age of 70 has more than doubled over the last 10 years. There are now nearly half a million over-70s in full or part-time employment and according to data collected by the Office for National Statistics, the numbers have steadily increased (year on year) since 2009.

This means that almost one in 12 people who are aged 70+ are working. The research also showed there are currently more than 53,000 over-80s working in the UK, with 25% working full time.

The reality is, from October 2020, the State pension age will be 66 and many of us will work beyond this.

With UK workers spending over half a century at work, it’s never too late to change career. In many cases, those in their 50s and 60s may have already paid off their mortgage and their children have flown the nest. Therefore, although ‘starting again’ might involve a drop in pay, this generation is more financially comfortable than the younger generation who are just starting their career.

So, despite what people might think, you can make a change at any time in life.

If you’re thinking about a change, I’ve listed a few tips to get you started:

  1. Work out what you want to do, what you’re passionate about and what you want to achieve by changing roles. Once you’ve worked this out you can tailor your job search to your priorities.
  2. Think about your transferable skills and life experience and what you can offer to your new role. Then re-write your CV.
  3. If you’re looking at a complete change, consider writing a skills-based CV, emphasising all the experience you’ve amassed thus far.
  4. Build your contacts. Look out for local networking events that focus on the industry you’re interested in. good contact is worth its weight in gold, and can often open doors and assist you in your job search.
  5. If you’re not on LinkedIn, join. If you are, refresh your profile. Make sure you keep your profile professional. Build your LinkedIn networks and join groups that have a similar interest to you.
  6. Refresh your skills. If you feel there’s a gap in your knowledge there are lots of opportunities out there to learn a new skill. It’s worth contacting your local community centres and libraries that often run courses aimed to assist with employability.
  7. Volunteer your time. If there’s something you’re interested in but have limited experience, look for opportunities to volunteer. There’s nothing better than first-hand experience. As an additional bonus, you’ll further grow your contacts within the industry.


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