Is it ever too late to make a career change? The short answer is a resounding “NO” — but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
“I am in my early 50s and have worked my entire career in several facets of social services,” one Fariygodboss shared in our forums recently. “I’m ready to leave the field and do something else. I am as far as I can go in my current position, so I’ve been looking for the last few months. To date, I’ve submitted about 50 resumes and only had four interviews — three of which ghosted me after. I have no idea what to do, but I know I have to change something because clearly what I’ve been doing is not working. Any suggestions???”
As usual, our resourceful community had plenty.
Many community members reminded the OP that it’s a numbers game — and it takes time and thinking outside the box.
“Fifty applications are just the start,” Jennifer Taylor noted. “I applied to over 300 jobs over two years before landing a full-time position.
“I hope you're on LinkedIn and networking. I'm 53 and transitioned careers about three years ago. I did a lot of research on my own about optimizing my LinkedIn profile, and resume, and how to connect with hiring managers and recruiters.
“Consider contract work in the field in which you want to pivot. I worked for two different companies over the course of a year and a half in contract roles. Those jobs were critical in helping me secure skills and experience. Contract roles sometimes turn into full-time positions, and usually pay pretty well.”
Unfortunately, as several FGBers pointed out, ageism is a reality.
“I'm in my mid-50s and experienced something similar a few years ago when my employer closed its doors,” wrote Elizabeth Stiles West. “The first thing to do is to make sure your resume isn't giving away your age. Don't list jobs from over 10 years ago; instead, list as, ‘10+ years experience in (whatever it was).’ If you're a college graduate, note your degrees but not the year of graduation unless you absolutely have to. However, if the application requires this information, use the opposite technique: in the cover letter, actually state something like ‘please don't pass me over due to misconceptions based on my age. I am in excellent health, and now that my children are grown, I can devote more time to the job than many younger people. I keep up with technology and am always open to learning new things.’”
Another member advised looking elsewhere.
“I would add to look beyond your current geographic location if you’re not already doing so,” they said. “Many jobs are remote only now. It’s a brave new world and taking a job based out of Florida when you live in Ohio is not outside the realm of possibility even if you don’t want to relocate.”
“Do you have a clear idea of what you want?” asked Maggie Stone. “If not, I would pause and carefully consider what you want. Monster has a great list of assessments: https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/best-free-career-assessment-tools.
Also, the book What Color is Your Parachute has great advice for career changers. You will have greater success if you can target your search to what you want.”
Ultimately, no job search is easy — but, of course, career pivots at any age take a little extra effort. Persistence is key, no matter what.
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is an editor and writer based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab-mix Hercules. She primarily focuses on education, technology and career development. She has worked with Penguin Random House, Fairygodboss, CollegeVine, BairesDev and many other publications and organizations. Her humor writing has appeared in the Belladonna, Weekly Humorist, Slackjaw, Little Old Lady Comedy, and Points in Case. She also writes fiction and essays, which have appeared in publications including The Memoirist and The Avalon Literary Review. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.