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Navigate a Mid-Career Change

career change .

If you’re dissatisfied with your current job or feeling “stuck”, the New Year can be a perfect opportunity to make a fresh start. Whether you've made a resolution to ask for a promotion at work, choose more meaningful work, or take a leap of faith and switch careers, now's the time to make the change.

That said, when you’re mid-career, transitioning to a new role can be a challenge. Your professional network is likely to be concentrated in your current field, which may make finding open positions outside your industry more difficult. Even job hunting in your current industry could be difficult- you’ll need to do so discreetly so as to avoid raising red flags with your current employer.

Before applying to new jobs, take a moment to consider what’s driving your desire to make the switch. You don’t want to go through the process of switching jobs only to find yourself just as frustrated in your new position as you were in your old one!

In general, three different scenarios may be in play:

    1. Are you ready to take on more management responsibility? If so, you may be able to make the case for a promotion at your company rather than switching jobs.

    2. Do you still like your current field but feel like you’re working on projects that go nowhere? If so, switching to a different company might help you find work more meaningful and fulfilling.

    3. Are you ready to leave your industry all together? If you don’t feel like you’re on track to reach your professional goals before retirement, it may be time for a major career change.

Depending on which scenario is closest to your needs, consider the following:

You’re ready for more leadership responsibility. You’re ready to step up and lead the team. Now, you need to demonstrate your leadership potential to your current supervisor. Even if you don’t have any direct reports now, consider previous examples of your leadership, like improving upon an existing process or coordinating projects across different teams. If your supervisor is reluctant to promote you, ask to lead a new project as a trial demonstration of your leadership potential. Or, create your own project, like organizing a community volunteer day for your company as a way to demonstrate your potential.

You’re ready for more meaningful work in your current field. You love your work but internal barriers at your current company are stymying your ability to succeed on your current projects. Let trusted confidants outside your company know that you’re open to new opportunities and ask them to keep you in the loop on anything they may hear.

As you’re evaluating potential companies, ask for informational interviews with contacts at these businesses to learn more about their company culture and processes. You may also benefit from attending networking events or working with a reputable industry recruiter who can tip you off to job openings and get your resume in front of the right hiring manager, bypassing the online application process.

You’re ready for something completely different. If you’re ready for a total reinvention but don’t know anyone in your desired industry, breaking in can be tough. For a successful transition to a new industry, consider a “bridge job” where you apply your current skills, like accounting or marketing, to a new industry. Once you have a foot in the door it may be easier to transition laterally.

Don’t discount your current company either. Even if you want to make a big switch, like moving from sales to HR, your current company may be willing to facilitate this transition. Since management already knows your accomplishments and work ethics, letting you try out a new position won’t be as risky as it might be at a brand new company.


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