How To Change Jobs Mid-Career

The old tradition of working the same job for 40 years and then retiring is long over.

One study shows that future generations will go through 6 career changes during their lifetime. More career choices and a culture that encourages finding fulfilling work are perhaps the cause of some of these changes, but technology also plays a part.

But people today change jobs for many reasons. Perhaps you’ve plateaued in your earnings or growth or you’ve found another industry or career that really excites you. For some, it’s time for something fresh and exciting or time to go work for another company in their field. Maybe you’re looking for a job with less stress or a better work/life balance.

Have you found yourself needing to make a similar job change in the middle of your career?

Changing jobs is inherently stressful and a little scary. It means stepping away from the known into the unknown, taking a risk with your career and finances.

However, it can also lead to earning more, being happier and taking control of your own future. Working a job that takes thirty to seventy hours a week means spending a significant part of your life doing something you either enjoy-- or don’t enjoy.

Shouldn’t the majority of your life be spent doing something you do enjoy? Change is worth it.

If it’s time to consider a new job, the next question to ask is: how do I change jobs mid-career?

Time for introspection

Understanding what you’re looking for and what you like and dislike about your current job will help you understand which direction to head. It can feel tempting to start applying to jobs and polishing your CV, but stepping back for a moment to think about what you really want and need is going to create better long term results.

If you’re looking for a better opportunity, it’s important to understand why you’re making a change-- and what you hope to gain from a new job. Make a comparison list of pros and cons between your current job and what you can objectively expect from your new job.

For example, if you’re currently working in an office, you may enjoy meeting new clients who come into the office plus the job security. However, you’d love to travel and the restrictive vacation policy of your office makes that impossible. Perhaps it’s time to consider a job that has a more flexible schedule with the same job security-- maybe one that lets you travel as part of the job!

Prepare your CV and Cover Letter

Once you have a better understanding of what you want in your next job, it’s time to prepare your job-hunting tools.

Consider the jobs you’re applying for and craft your CV accordingly. Pay attention to the keywords, software or desired qualifications they list in the job descriptions and ensure these appear on your CV, as long as you have this experience.

This is also a time to take stock of your experience at your current job. If your job has some important performance metrics or you’ve had some major achievements or rewards, make sure you show those specific statistics, awards and accomplishments. This is easier done before leaving your job since you may not have access to some of this information after you resign.

Writing a good cover letter involves explaining your CV further. It should speak directly to the position you’re applying to and include any of the skills or experience you have that they list in the job description. This is also the place to explain any gaps in employment, interesting experiences or other details that can’t be explained concisely on a CV.

Additionally, have your three to five professional references are chosen and ask them if they’d be willing to speak to your work and their time working with you. Tell them about the jobs you’re seeking so they understand what skills or experience to highlight should they get a call from a potential employer.

The job hunt

As you apply to jobs, ensure you send a PDF version of your cover letter and CV, tailored to each position you’re applying to. A good tip from recruiters? Send over files named with your last name and the position you’re applying to. The company’s internal hiring manager will greatly appreciate this; sending over a file simply named “CV” becomes difficult for them to manage along with so many others with vague file names.

Applying to jobs and networking to find a new job are vital if you want to be successful in your job hunt. If you begin to notice that you are not being contacted for more senior positions or jobs at your level of experience, it could be time to expand your skills and knowledge, showing potential hiring managers your commitment to your career and what makes you a unique and qualified candidate.

One strategy is getting additional training and education. Whether you’re planning to learn in a classroom or after work and online, employers love to see recent growth and modern skills. One perception of mid-career job changes is that they’re less inclined to learn or grow than entry-level candidates-- however, going back for more training proves otherwise.

The interview

With a strong CV and recent training, it’s no surprise when you get invited to interview. For mid-career job changers especially, you should be prepared to explain your experience, and the decision to change jobs and speak to your strengths, weaknesses, experience and expectations for this new role.

Practising interview skills and answers to questions will help clear up any pre-interview jitters. Dress for the job and position you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a casual creative position, a suit and tie or a more formal outfit may not be appropriate. A quick shopping trip to find an appropriate, modern outfit will make the right impression on the interviewer-- and give a boost of confidence.

As always, arrive ten to fifteen minutes early. Bring extra copies of your resume in case others plan to join in the interview and need a copy. Relate your experience, even if it’s from a slightly different job to this new role. When the interviewer asks if you have any questions-- ask!

Some good examples would include asking the interviewer what the best part of working for the company is, why the role is open, what their ideal candidate looks like and how your experience and qualifications compare. This is the perfect time to not only show your interest and curiosity but also learn if you need to show a little bit more why you’re a good choice to hire. Find out what the next steps are and see if it’s possible to schedule the next interview before you ever leave your first one. This keeps the momentum going-- and will make you a standout interviewee by being proactive!

After the interview, make sure you send a quick thank you note via email or even a handwritten card. Show your excitement and enthusiasm for the role.

Making a successful transition

Once you’ve accepted the new job, jump in with both feet! If this job change is a significant shift, remember: asking questions when you’re new is far better than asking beginner questions when you’ve been in the position for a while. Get your questions answered early on-- and you’ll succeed.

If you find yourself surprised by the skills or learning curve, don’t hesitate to rely on your co-workers and manager for assistance. Good work environments have an environment of collaboration and teamwork. If you still feel you could expand your skillset, looking for additional training and education may be beneficial.

As Gandhi once said: “The future depends on what you do today.”

Will today be the day you get started toward transforming your career?

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