Career Change for Midlife Women

Changing careers during a woman’s midlife years are very different from those we make in our twenties and thirties. The importance of status, success, money and meeting the expectation of others diminishes with the recognition of your mortality. You tend to reflect on the gap between the reality of your life and the dreams you once had, and you decide to make the second half of your life meaningful because you won’t get another chance.

Written below are tips to make your career transition manageable.

Determine if it’s time for a change – A career change is not the only solution when you feel bored and unsatisfied with your life. Sometimes you can make changes in your current job to make it more satisfying and meaningful. However, if you still feel as if you are dragging yourself from one day to another, some kind of change is probably necessary.

State your mission – Work is an express of who you are. A meaningful and satisfying career meshes with your values, your talents, and what is truly important to you. Think of the contributions that you would like to make to the lives of others and to the world as well.

List your accomplishments – This is often very difficult for those who were taught not to brag, but affirming your valuable experience and successes helps ground you in your strengths and remind you of what you do as well. Write down all that you have accomplished in all of your life roles.

List your competencies – List everything you do well. You could also ask others to share their perceptions of your strengths. Do not restrict yourself to your job tasks. For instance, if you are particularly good at convincing your partner to do things your way, then that is an evidence of your persuasive skills. You could also bring out how you’ve put together the pie fair to showcase your leadership and organizational skills.

List your satisfactions – Ask to yourself if you get the greatest satisfaction from your accomplishments and competencies.

List your values – Determine what values matter most to you. You may consider values like autonomy, altruism, creativity, leadership, affiliation, beauty, and knowledge.

List the things you absolutely love to do – If money is not an issue, how would you spend a perfect day? Where would you like to be in? Who do you want to see? How do you want to relate to them? What activities you’d like to engage in? Do you seek relaxation or excitement?

Gather information – Once you have completed all those lists, find careers that fit your personal description. You could search the Internet, read the classified ads, or even check out your local college or university’s career libraries. Your goal is to create a list of options, including every job that intrigues you, regardless of whether you have the required skills for it or you have heard of it before.

Ask around – Talk to people who do the kinds of work you have found interesting. You could call your alumni association for names of people to whom you can talk or contact professional associations and ask your friends if they know anyone. Ask a potential interviewee if they would be willing to spend some time with you, in a location of their choosing, and discuss about their work. Ask about what they like to do in their job, what they love and hate about their work, how they have landed where they are, and what they wish they had known before they started.

Trim down – As you gather information, your focus naturally would narrow. When you are down to just a few possibilities, research for details. You could try volunteering or taking a short-term, part-time position to see how your potential new career feels. Remember that you are designing your life, not just job hunting.

Learn new skills – Identify what training or education you need to make you marketable in your chosen career. Think in terms of skills instead of credentials. However, if you lack education credits you might want to find out about adult education programs your local college or university offers.

Network – Make connections with people in your chosen field to enrich your understanding of the career, inform you about specific job opportunities, and position you to be a serious candidate. You can network by joining professional associations, attend meetings and other industry-related events. Make your interest and enthusiasm visible. In that way you don’t have to do a hard sell.

Overcome obstacles – Slowly but surely you need to do the transition between your old job and your desired work. Take your time in informing your family about your decision. Overcome your own fear.

Get support – Making career transitions requires a lot of emotional support. Try not to be afraid to admit your fears. Find good listeners who can give you honest, non-judgmental feedback. Ask other about their experiences. Look for support groups at women’s career centers, adult continuing education centers, 40 Plus clubs, etc. Most of all, enlist your own support. Your commitment to make your career transition work is the most important factor in your success.


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