Changing jobs after age 50 isn’t always easy. But there are many reasons to take your career in a new direction if you don’t feel fulfilled in the workplace.
Older workers who aren’t satisfied with their jobs don’t need to tough it out until they retire. People are living longer and working longer. So, a person turning 50 may have 20 or more years to go before they retire. It makes sense to make a change if you find a profession that’s more rewarding.
What follows are key reasons to make a career change after you’ve turned 50.
1. You know what you want from a career
People over 50 have the self-awareness to know what they want from a career, says Cynthia Corsetti, a Pittsburgh-based career transition expert. By changing professions, you can do what you always wanted to do.
“In our society, we make our first career choice when we are 19 or 20 and choose our college major,” she explains. “Many people work in that career for 30 years, but they never feel fulfilled or energized.”
Such people don’t feel as if their life has purpose, she adds. “Changing careers once you’re 50 is a different game altogether,” she says. “You know what you want to leave as your legacy, you know what you want to give back to the world.”
2. You have a dead-end job
People who work in declining industries and fear layoffs can prolong their careers by transitioning into new professions. Rather than waiting for the ax to fall, start preparing for a new career while you’re still employed, as it can be challenging to bounce back from losing your job.
If you’re worried about being forced out of your current job, it makes sense to begin preparing for a new one, says New York-based career counselor Rebecca Weiler. Older workers “can take classes to improve or sharpen skills or try to further specialize in an area that can make them more marketable and profitable,” she adds.
3. You can use a network to find a new career
One of the advantages of having been in the workplace for several decades is that you’ve had the opportunity to build up a strong network of professional contacts. The ability to reach out to others for help and advice is invaluable when changing careers.
Corsetti says she often recommends that people looking for new career opportunities write down a description of the type of job they’re looking for and share it with family members and professional contacts.
4. You can build on past successes
Many older job applicants have a list of accomplishments they can show to prospective employers. Offer examples of the clients you’ve won or ways you’ve helped increase employer profits, and you’ll stand a better chance of landing the job you want.
When she works with older workers, New York-based career coach Carlota Zimmerman urges them to point out their achievements when applying for jobs. Instead of trying to hide their age, she counsels clients to present themselves as people with valuable experience.
5. You understand that age isn’t a barrier
Sometimes people avoid changing careers because they’re afraid they’re too old to master a new profession. Corsetti says there are plenty of examples of people who’ve successfully taken on new careers after age 50.
“Look at the ages of successful people who didn’t start until later in life,” she says. “Louise Hay didn’t write her first book until she was over 50, and Hay House is now a huge publishing house.”
She notes that entrepreneur Harland David Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders, didn’t find success with his Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises until he was in his 60s.
6. You can afford to follow your passion
People in their 50s often have saved enough money to start a business of their own, or to return to school and learn new career skills.
If your home is paid for and your children have finished their schooling, you may have the funds to pursue a career you’re passionate about, says Weiler. After age 50, she says, many people are in a position to “do something meaningful for themselves.”
7. You want to work for the best boss ever: yourself
People who have labored under close supervision for decades often enjoy working for themselves. They can set their own hours and choose their own assignments.
There are a variety of self-employment opportunities for people over 50. You may not get the same benefits as you would working for someone else, but you’ll gain the freedom to set your own hours and choose your clients. Just make sure you pick a profession that matches your skills.
Self-employment can give you a renewed sense of purpose, as well as the flexibility to set your own schedule, says Weiler.
Have you changed careers after age 50? If so, how did it work out for you? Share your experience or thoughts with us by commenting below or on our Facebook page.