So, you’re 50, in the prime of your life, and you want a midlife career change. Whether you’re returning to work after raising children, simply want a change of career or want to launch a new one, you’re in a great position at this age to know what you want and have the experience to get it. But this is just the beginning. Read on to learn how to find an ideal job when you're over 50.
Find your Niche. Take time to assess your unique strengths and skills. One exercise you can use to help you find out what job would be right for you is to make a list of what you enjoy in life and what you’d like to change. What kind of work would you do even if you weren't paid for it? What do you want from your new career: more responsibility? more money? more interaction with people?
Unleash your imagination. Imagine a scenario in the future when you are living your ideal life. What would it be like? What would you be doing? Now look back over what you’ve written and see if any themes stand out. What are the general things you think would make you happy? Perhaps it’s working with young people, managing a team, doing something creative, or helping your local community. Now think about the type of job that might deliver these values for you. Even if it is in an industry that you don’t have experience in, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s beyond your reach.
Cherry pick from your list of ideal careers. When you have a list of "dream" jobs you think you’d love to do, narrow them down to some real, actual possibilities. Browse the jobs boards and classifieds to see what kind of opportunities are available, and which companies sound interesting.
Get yourself out there. Often, the most interesting jobs in many organizations are never advertised. At this point in your life, whether you’ve had a long career or are looking to re-enter the jobs market after having kids, you will have a unique set of skills, and it may happen that the job you are best suited for doesn’t even exist yet. It is worth approaching potential employers who you think would be able to benefit from your unique set of skills, and selling yourself as an ideal fit for their organization.
Build up your confidence. For many people entering the job market or changing jobs in their 50s, confidence can be an issue. If you haven’t worked for a long period because you stayed home to raise kids, for example, you may feel out of the loop in the world of work. Work on building up you confidence, as this is likely to be the main barrier stopping you finding your ideal job. It may stop you from going for jobs you would love to do, and this lack of confidence come across to potential employers.
Taking on voluntary or temporary work is a great way to build up your confidence, and also to test the waters in areas you think you might be interested in. And it will look good on your resume too.
Invest time in updating your resume. Transferable skills are the crucial concept here. Your ideal job might not necessarily be one you are obviously qualified for, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on your dream. Transferable skills are those that can be used in any job or any area of life, and similarly they can be gained anywhere. Skills such as people management, organization, negotiation and prioritizing can be acquired doing voluntary work, hobbies and interests, sports activities and raising children. Don’t underestimate the worth of your life experience!
Be flexible. It’s important to maintain a positive attitude when you’re over 50 and looking to change careers. You need to be flexible, and be prepared to adapt and fit in with a new organization, which might do things very differently from what you’re used to. You need to be able to demonstrate a willingness and ability to learn new skills. There is a common stereotype about the over-50s as being set in their ways, and find it difficult to learn, especially in new areas like IT. Think of examples of where you have learned a new skill recently. Or learn one.
Take some time to think about your appearance if you are called to interview--you don’t need to change the way you dress necessarily, but that suit you were wearing 15 years ago might not give the right professional and up-to-date impression! If your computer skills are rusty, or non-existent, consider taking an computer course to brush up on them.