She Defined: 8 tips for making a successful career change - Michelle Gibbings

Thanks to She Defined for the opportunity for Michelle to share thoughts and ideas about how to shift your career as we head into the new financial year. 

You’re not ready for retirement and are seeking a more flexible job that better aligns with your values, or you want to return to work after time away from the workforce.

Whatever the context, navigating a career transition later in life can be daunting, and yet, it’s an excellent opportunity to find a career that aligns with your values, skills and interests.

Here are eight strategies to help you successfully navigate that new terrain.

1. Assess your skills, values and interests

Start by reflecting on your career to date and identify what you enjoy doing, what’s meaningful, and what you want to change in your career move.

List the skills and experience you’ve accumulated throughout your career. You want to understand which are transferable and can adapt to new roles.

Next, consider your values, purpose and the criteria desired for your next job. For example, salary expectations, full or part-time work, location, and flexibility. These details provide helpful guardrails for determining roles that are in or out of scope.

2. Do your research

Once you understand those elements, you are ready to start researching potential careers that align.

Examine new industries and roles and look for sectors that are growing and have a demand for your skills. As part of this process, talk to people who work in the areas you are considering and those in similar fields, as it will provide insights into potential opportunities.

Additionally, consider attending industry events and career expos.

3. Upskill your credentials

Depending on your desired career path, you may need to pursue additional education or training.

Identify if there is a gap between your desired role and your current skill set. Next, research educational programs and courses to help you close that gap and gain the required credentials or skills.

4. Leverage your network

One of the distinct benefits of older workers is they already have an established network. Now’s your time to leverage that network.

Networking is critical when making a career transition. Reach out to colleagues, friends, and family members to let them know about your career goals. They can provide encouragement, guidance, and advice to help you navigate the process.

5. Get online and build your presence

In today’s digital age, having a strong personal brand is essential. Create a LinkedIn profile and online portfolio highlighting your skills and achievements and keep it current.

Develop a concise message communicating your value proposition to potential employers. Share articles and ideas that help support your online presence.

6. Make each day matter

Changing careers takes time and focus, so dedicate time to it each day.

You want to prioritise and plan so you are making regular and sustained progress. It can help to document your plan and set achievable goals.

Keep going if the job search takes longer than expected or you face rejection. Persistence pays off. Set aside time for yourself, whether it’s a weekly massage, listening to music or a daily run.

Having self-care strategies in place isn’t a luxury – it’s essential if you want to manage your energy and put your best self forward. Remember, each step in the process gets you closer to your goal.

7. Be flexible and open

It helps to approach your job search with an open mind. Be open to new opportunities and be flexible in your approach.

Consider part-time or contract work to gain experience in a new industry or role. Be willing to take on new challenges and learn new skills. Embrace the learning curve and be patient as you navigate your new career path.

8. Seek professional support

If you find the thought of navigating a career change later in life particularly daunting or want additional support, a career coach can be invaluable.

A career coach offers expert guidance and support as you transition. They can help you identify your strengths and opportunities, create a career transition plan, and provide feedback and accountability as you work towards your goals.

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