If you are over 50 and plan on changing careers, you’re sure to hear the following from family, friends and co-workers.
“No one hires an unknown quantity especially if you’re over 50”. “You can’t compete with the younger worker; you’ll never catch up with the latest technology”. “There is a bias against older workers better to stick with what you’ve been doing at least you’ll have a chance in getting hired”.
And so it goes, yet every day those over 50 are being hired, many in new careers. Let’s take a look and see what the successful job changer after 50 is doing and help you find that new career after 50.
First, don’t be in a hurry. Explore and research where you are going and how you are going to get there. Sometimes, the career you want requires several steps and acquiring several levels of experience.
There are ways to speed up the process; on-line learning and self-study can take the place of formal education. Prior work experience can easily qualify you for critical parts of the new career; supervising employees, budgeting, team leadership, project management are just a few of the transferable skills that will qualify you for the new career.
Second, prepare for interview questions that will probably not be asked; for example, Your supervisor will be considerably younger that you how will you handle it? Or, We require periods where we work long hours and weekends can you handle it at your age? Or, How is your health, we don’t want you running up our medical plan costs? Or, Why do you want to start at the bottom? Or, Will you leave us when a job opens in your old career? Or, As old as you are can you really learn new things or are you stuck in the past?
In planning for the job interview, weave into your stories of your accomplishments examples that answer many of the above questions. What new technology did you recently learn? How physically active are you? Successfully working for someone younger? You get the idea.
Yes, you’ll still have employer’s telling you that you are over qualified for the position, or they found someone who has more “direct job related” experience. Don’t get discouraged; remember each “no” gets you one step closer to a “yes.”
Third, here are some brief tips to get you started on the journey to find the new career after 50 and job where you enjoy going to work every morning.
Network: use friends, former co-workers and family to put out the widest job search as possible. Use Linkedin.com to find others working in the desired career, and contact them for a short 10-15 minute informational interview.
The informational interviews will provide you will clues as to how you can get added education and experience and where the jobs are. Perhaps working at a non-profit will fill a gap in your experience, for example.
Develop your Career Plan: Be flexible, adjust your actions not your target. Build a strong follow-up system. Spend time every day researching and building the required skills.
Smaller Employers: Don’t overlook this source of possible employment. Many times these jobs are uncovered through your networking activities.
Practice: Writing cover letters and resume; how can you make them better? Interviewing skills; practice answering the “50 tough interview questions.” Telephone follow-up; is it the best it can be? If someone asks you; What do you do? Can you give them a short 20 second answer that covers everything?
A new career after 50 can be a challenge. Successful career planning requires a high level of self-analysis and building the right career plan brick by brick. Don’t become discouraged but use your years of experience to your advantage to find that after 50 career change.