By Tony Lewis
Special to CareerBuilder
11:29 AM EDT, May 7, 2013
Are you a professional over the age of 50 who is trapped in a job that doesn’t meet financial needs or is out of sync with your personality, character or mind? It’s not that you are unappreciated or taken for granted. You still have dreams, and your current employment situation is just no longer fulfilling. You are a clever person with substantial skills, and nothing has stopped you from exploring new paths in the past. So don’t let anything stop you from refocusing yourself now.
I am an example of someone who, five years ago, found himself wanting to change careers. I entered the workforce as a teacher and spent the next nine years learning and growing in this profession. But after my wife and I began our family, I decided that I needed to be in a profession that allowed me to earn more money. So I took the leap and went into sales. I found that many of my skills as a successful teacher were easily adaptable to a sales career, thus making my transition easier than I imagined.
However, after almost 22 years in sales, I found it to not be as fulfilling as it once was, and I again found myself searching for a new career path. My efforts to remake myself led me to the career that I have now — one that I not only enjoy but makes a difference in the world as well.
I’d like to share the steps I took to find a new career after 50 for those of you considering a similar change. My suggestions are separated into four parts, all of which will be shared in the coming weeks. Here’s part one.
Know yourself: A personal inventory
Take some time to do a self-assessment. If you haven’t picked a career path yet, look at your personality, character, spiritual needs and values, skills, achievements and hobbies, and think about how all of those pluses can best be applied in a new profession. What do you really want to do with your life? How can you do that and still fulfill your responsibilities to your family and anyone else who depends on you?
Determine what you’re missing. Once you’ve completed your self-assessment, ask yourself, what are you missing that will help you to be more marketable in your new career? Have you talked with anyone in your network who works in that field to get some pointers? Will you need to acquire a new certification or complete any coursework to learn new technology or gain a new skill? Have you considered joining professional organizations associated with your chosen career? Have you extended your social and professional network — especially in the areas that you are targeting? Determine the “missing pieces” you’ll need to acquire to be considered for your new role, researching any associated costs, and then go after them.
Talk to your family. Once those first two steps are complete, you should know yourself fairly well and have a good idea of what you need in the way of “filling in the blanks” or supplying the “missing pieces.” Now it’s time to talk seriously with your family — the people who are most dependent upon you, your well-being and your income — and let them know what you are thinking. Be ready with a plan about how you will pull this off and not jeopardize the family’s well-being, whether it’s taking classes at a community college in the evening while you continue to work or picking up part-time work on the weekends or evenings to gain experience. Also explain the cost and time associated with the change so that they are aware of the challenges and sacrifices necessary. When you have their blessing, you are ready to begin the next steps.
Tony Lewis is a Senior recruiting specialist with Insperity Recruiting Services, based in Houston.