Want A Career Change At 30? Here's What To Consider

I get a lot of “I think it’s time for my big career change at 30, I’m ready to get serious and choose my real career.”

The truth is as you approach 30 the reality of your career choice begins to set in. You are now in the future that you imagined. By now you’ve had five to ten years to test-drive your career path and you may be wondering what else you could be doing.

This is the age that most people realize that the future isn’t going to work itself out and that their initial choice was a likely guess from their younger self.

If you’ve hit your 30s and feel like you are in the wrong career, don’t beat yourself up, you’re not alone. Most of us make career decisions by default, without enough accurate information about our strongest talents or where we fit in the career world.

The best we can do most times is weigh in on conventional advice, and then wing it and hope for the best. Unfortunately, the future rarely works itself out and a trial and error approach can be costly.

If you’re thinking of a career change at 30 years old, the first thing you should consider is exactly why you desire a career shift.

Why are you desiring a career change at 30 years old?

Changing careers often involves using your honed skills and experience and making a switch to a career or workplace that’s completely different.

So why exactly would you want to do this?

1. Your life has changed

When you chose your career back when you were in your early 20s, your life was probably different than it is today. For example, you may have been single then but have a family now.

What seemed like an exciting career that required lots of travel and long hours is no longer viable. It makes you long for more time at home.

2. Career satisfaction

Professionals often change careers to attain a higher level of career satisfaction. A good example of this would be a middle manager applying for a higher level position in an industry where their experience and knowledge could complement an upper management position.

3. The job outlook for your career field has become poor

When you choose an occupation, one of the factors you should consider is the job outlook. The U.S Bureau of Labour statistics predicts whether employment in an occupation will grow, decrease, or stay the same over a decade, based on current and forecasted economic and other factors.

While the future might have looked promising for your field at the inception, changes in technology, the economy or the industry can impact it.

4. Unsatisfactory leadership

Another reason why people desire a career change is because they’re unsatisfied by the leadership at their current workplace.

Ineffective managers can drive away talented employees, which is a significant detriment to the success of the company.

5. You’re experiencing job burnout

Even a career you once loved can wear you down. After years of being in the same occupation, you may begin to experience job burnout.

6. You don’t like your work

Obviously, if you don’t like your work, you don’t want to be stuck doing it for the rest of your life. When you change careers, you should use the opportunity to choose a job that you really like doing.

If you’re not sure what that is yet, start by asking yourself what you’re passionate about, picking something you love to do will make going to work in the morning much more enjoyable.

7. Work flexibility

Sometimes, a career change is necessary to accommodate the changing needs of your family or other goals.

Work flexibility is another factor that influences career change. Employees who are juggling a career and the demands of children often desire opportunities to work in a flexible environment that will allow them to work from home, part-time or have flexible hours.

Cons of changing careers at 30 years old

1. Being Financially Insecure

While it always helps to have money saved away for a rainy day before you leap off your career path, this always does not happen. And if you’re a family man, it might mean rocking the financial equation you and your partner have.

You will have a certain amount of struggle before you shine at your new job/business and that means depending on your partner, friends, and even parents.

2. Facing rejection

Absence of relevant work experience in your new career path can be the biggest hurdle you might have to face before you actually get what you want.

3. Facing a midlife crisis

You will have to learn to leave your comfort zone to do something new and start afresh, while your friends and colleagues move ahead with the pace you would have too.

Apprehension and doubts are only normal but to give in to them without doing anything constructive will steer you into a state of a midlife crisis.

4. Enduring Questions from people

The worst part of a middle-age career shift is that you are swamped with questions by curious friends and family about your decision.

While there will be lots of cheering and motivation, there will also be lots of criticism and pessimism. And that will only add to your personal apprehensions if you do not learn to ignore it.

5. The power shift no one warned you about

If you were an assistant manager in your last job and you became a junior staff after the career shift, it can take some getting used to.

Once again, the lack of relevant work experience will lead to this, you will have to follow orders and get some training rather than the other way around.

While it is always advisable to choose a career very carefully when one starts out in their early twenties, at the end of the day, it is never too late to change paths, but it does come with its own baggage.

How not to regret changing your career: things you should consider

1. Get to know yourself

The first thing you should do is to get to know yourself better.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Once you’re done with the above, go through what you have listed out and make an honest assessment of the whole thing.

For example, if you find that you’re an active person but your current work limits you to a desk job, this could be a reason why you’re not happy with your work and thought of quitting.

Perhaps, if you were allowed to be out and about meeting clients, would it make a difference?

Getting to know yourself is important because it will not only help you identify your characteristics but also learn what sort of job fits your personality and what exactly about work makes you want to ditch it.

2. Have a masterplan

I notice that people tend to have a lot of ideas in their head about what they want to do but when it comes to the details, many struggles with it.

These are things you should reflect upon before quitting your job:

  • Identify what you want to achieve through the business/career change.
  • Identify who can help you achieve this goal, when, where and how you are going to make it happen.
  • Identify what actions you need to take to make it happen.
  • Identify the opportunities or threats you may be facing.
  • Identify the resources that you need to make it happen.

3. Believe in yourself

Speaking from experience, it is normal for you to want to venture into something new but don’t expect people to dish out high fives for your brilliant ideas or leave comments about how brave or how courageous you’re to have the guts to do it.

More often than not, people will try to discourage you from doing it. Friends, family, colleagues, your neighbor… Basically EVERYONE.

No, they don’t hate you. They’re probably doing this because they care about you and worry that you’re making a mistake.

So, when you’re sure about what you want to do, you need to have a strong belief in yourself that you can and will accomplish what you want.

Once people see that you’ve reached your first milestone, they will start to realize how serious you were about what it is you’re doing and start cheering you on.

Tips for changing careers

1. Utilize your network thoroughly

After you have an idea of what field you’d like to go in to, it’s smart to utilize your network or develop connections in that field. If you’re interested in becoming a teacher, reach out to friends or family who are in that career field.

You absolutely must get to know passionate and successful people working within your new field of interest. You don’t have to stress about this!

People are more generous with their time and input than you think, especially when you show interest in them and acknowledge or validate something they’re doing professionally.

Always remember that no one wants to be ambushed. The best way to approach is by paying a compliment or noting something that they’re doing that seems interesting or impressive. After you build a bit of rapport, then you can ask for a favor or a bit of their time. And without a doubt, thank everyone who gives you their input and advice along the way.

Also, conduct informational interviews to understand the details of the work day, the pay, the skills you’ll need, what’s schooling they have and more. Like I said earlier, don’t be afraid or shy in reaching out to people you know, or even the friend of a friend as you gather information about a certain path.

Network in your chosen field as much as you can, especially if you don’t have a degree for that career. This will help you make valuable contacts and may up your chance of getting an interview or getting hired.

These connections could end up helping you land a job down the line.

2. Update your resume, portfolio

You’ll need to update your resume and portfolio as you prepare to change careers. From building a website to utilizing a template to help you craft a good resume or cover letter, there are many ways to display your skill set to employees.

Job hunting for your dream job will mean you need to demonstrate your school work, job skills, and career goals. A resume or portfolio can help you do this.

As you gain education, training, and certifications, you’ll want to make sure your resume and portfolio accurately reflect your new skills. New volunteer experience, clinical or demonstration teaching are also good skills to put into your resume.

Experts agree that at age 30, your resume shouldn’t exceed one page, and should leave off any jobs from where when you were very young.

The idea of transitioning to a new career can seem daunting but it doesn’t really need to be. You can successfully determine what career is the best for you and use education and training to get on the path that will lead you to that job.

You have to learn to improve your relationships and hone your problem-solving skills and gain valuable work experience to help you on a new career path.

3. Take a self-assessment test

Take a self-assessment as a crucial part of the career change process. You need to really know where you want to end up before you take next steps, like going back to college or leaving your employer.

Maybe you want to work in an entirely different field. Maybe you want more pay, flexible hours or a career that gives you the chance to work with patients or kids. You’ll need to sit down and write a list of the things you don’t like about your current work as you decide what you need to find in your next one.

Consider taking career aptitude tests, evaluating your hobbies, and looking at your personality traits as you consider what jobs would be a better fit for you. Researching schools can help you look at the kind of skills you may be interested in for a future career.

Make sure you have an idea of what you’ll need in your next career before you make any drastic changes.

4. Save some money from your current job

It can be a smart idea to start saving some money from your current job so that a career change with a lower salary wouldn’t be a big issue. Sometimes, when you change careers, you’ll have to start a little lower down the ladder, with a smaller paycheck.

It can sometimes take time to work your way up in a new career. You have to develop new abilities, show you can solve problems and have a positive attitude.

Having some money saved up will allow you to make a change to a new career without hurting your lifestyle or family needs. This gives you the freedom to send out job applications and be willing to start in a more entry-level position. Being willing to do this can lead to a more successful career change in the long term.

Start a budget and plan to save money now, so when you do accomplish your career change, you can be prepared for any unknowns.

5. Make a note of your transferable skills

It is necessary you do this right at the beginning of your job hunt. By now, after having made so many copies of your resumes and applying to jobs for finding your required new career, you would have at least made note of 5 basic skills that you have.

Over several years of working, you have probably acquired the talents and abilities that you can use in a variety of other occupations. Some employers may even allow you to substitute them for formal training. If they do, it will make your transition a lot easier and faster.

If you have to choose between a career in which you can use the skills you currently have and one that requires additional schooling, you may decide to pick the former, it’ll certainly allow you to get into your new career sooner.

Taking note of your transferable skills will give you a solid grasp of what will set you up in your new career of choice. It’ll only help you if you do it with diligence and sincerity.

6. Get an internship

This can be a good way to steadfast your process of doing something nice. I understand that trying to do whatever you want at whatever age may be a little difficult but it’ll be a good start.

It’ll heighten your chances of getting selected and being known along with your probable employers. This is going to be a very good thing as far as meeting and hanging around people who will be associated with your new calling is concerned.

By acing your internship you will be able to prove to them that you’re the best and you should not be considered lesser than other employees or potential future candidates.

Career Change Resources

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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