New Idea: How can I change careers later in life? - Michelle Gibbings

Thanks to the team at New Idea, Michelle suggests ways you can change careers later in life and the skills required to land a new job.

After working in a bank for 40 years, in 2020, Joanne Alderton decided she needed a change.

“But I thought at my age, I can’t get a job anywhere else,” says Joanne, 61.

That was until she watched her elderly parents in aged care, and realised a job in community support was the switch she needed.

“I had a lot of life experience, understanding, and empathy,” she says.

“I thought, ‘I get on really well with people. I need to be with people and working for the bank didn’t suit me anymore.’”

Now, Joanne works three days a week providing domestic, social, and personal care for Whiddon aged-care services – but what does it take to change careers later in life?

New Idea asks the experts…

While Joanne had a slew of transferable skills from her previous job, such as interpersonal and secretarial expertise, she still needed to upskill at TAFE, obtaining a Certificate III in aged care.

Roxanne Calder, the founder of recruitment agency EST10, explains a self-assessment will determine your wants, needs, skills, experience, and qualifications when choosing a new career.

This will also help you decide if you need to upskill.

“More importantly, consider your ‘why’,” Roxanne advises.

“You might be perfectly skilled for one job but desire the challenge of a new industry, learning a different skill set, or you are seeking a job that is social.”

Whether you’re looking for a slower-paced job to beat career burnout, or a more active occupation to get you away from a desk, Roxanne explains there are plenty of sectors looking to hire mature workers, including:

  • Healthcare and social assistance sectors (general and specialist medical services, pathology, dental and allied health care, childcare, and aged care)
  • Retail (hardware and gardening stores like Bunnings, supermarkets, and department stores)
  • Hospitality

For those who want to leverage their knowledge or don’t want to ditch their industry entirely, workplace expert Michelle Gibbings suggests the following jobs:

  • Consulting
  • Tutoring, training, or mentoring (offered online or face-to-face)
  • Fundraising, event planning, or other tasks such as grant writing for non-profit organisations
  • Freelance and contract work (including writing, graphic design, bookkeeping, project management, or virtual assistants)

While Joanne admits she was financially stable before moving into her community support job, Michelle explains this isn’t always a requirement before taking the plunge with a new role.

“It depends on the level of risk attached to the career change and whether the shift negatively impacts a person’s salary,” she says.

However, if money is getting in the way of you achieving your career goals, Michelle advises creating a budget that considers current expenses and projected income from your new career.

“This step helps determine the affordability of the transition and if there are budgetary adjustments they should make,” she notes.

“If a person cannot immediately enter a new full-time career, consider taking on part-time or freelance work in their desired field. Doing this gains the person valuable experience and builds their network while providing a source of income as they transition.”

Finally, you can also build a financial buffer by setting aside a portion of income into savings and exploring ways to reduce expenses to help adjust to the change.

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