Tips, Wisdom and Just Plain Old, Good Advice for Mature Job Seekers
By Ms. Judy Cherry, Career Advisor/Program Coordinator, JEVS Career Solutions for 55+
1. I’ve been doing the same type of work for a long time. I’m ready for something new. How can I tackle a career change?
MS. JUDY: Please don’t walk out on your day job just yet, my friend! Sure, we can get bored with the work we’re doing, find it unfulfilling, or feel that we’re not contributing to the greater good of society. But there’s a lot of preparation and, perhaps, expense that goes along with changing careers.
I urge my program participants to ask themselves this all-important question, “Why do I want to change my career direction?” Then, I help them to take the steps to understand what it will take to change it. You can begin by accessing the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. This terrific resource outlines requirements that are necessary for the new career that you want to pursue. It will also help you to see if the industry is in demand, average salaries, work settings, etc.
Another key to a successful career change…networking. Interview people who are already in that profession. It will give you a realistic view of the daily ins and outs of their position and what it took for them to get there. For example, if you want to work in health care as a nurse, be sure you to talk to one to learn the day-to-day commitments and demands: working weekends, holidays, day and evening shifts. You can take this one step farther by participating in internships or cooperative educational programs. Or, job shadow; tag along with someone in your desired field to observe a real work environment.
2. Once I’m positive about making the move, what’s next in my pursuit of a career change?
MS. JUDY: Going after your dream job or making a dramatic change can be thrilling, so let’s talk about transferable skills. Assess your prior experience to determine if any of your jobs, duties, tasks or projects are relevant to your desired new career. Simply defined, transferable skills can be categorized into basic categories, such as: people or communication skills; technical skills; database management/software knowledge and computer operations.
Once you’ve identified your transferable skills, develop a functional résumé that highlights your abilities–like hiring, managing or coaching–rather than your chronological work history. Focus on these acquired skills, listing them as keywords, within the details of your experience. (For examples, access Google or Monster’s résumé builder.)
What else is key? Determine what are you lacking and what do you need. You may have to acquire certification and specialized training. Out-of-pocket funding for additional education can be easily determined, either you have the $$ or not. Maybe your current employer will pay tuition, or you can qualify for a scholarship or an unpaid intern program just to get your foot in the door. If you’ve been laid off, check if training money is available and apply for these programs in enough time to prepare for eligibility requirements.
Don’t say I didn’t tell you…it can be expensive to acquire a new career, especially if you discontinue working or cut back full-time hours to part-time in order to go back to school.
3. Any final advice before jumping into a career change?
MS. JUDY: Ask yourself, “Do I have the stamina, the commitment and the money to make a career change?” Don’t fool yourself about stamina. Unless you are a long distance runner, you may have lost the stamina you had when you were younger. (We all do sooner or later.) Realistically it can be difficult to enter into a completely different career, but if this is something that you have thought about a long time–and have the gut feeling that it’s the right move–then go for it!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my third installment of Ask Ms. Judy! Now you have a basic idea of all that goes into making a career change later in life.
If you are a Philadelphia resident over age 55 and looking for a new part-time or full-time job, I can help you. (For free!) Call me at JEVS Career Solutions for 55+ at 267-647-7137 or click on this link for more info. https://www.jevshumanservices.org/job-readiness-career-services/career-solutions-for-55/