When reviewing career change books, I often find myself, ‘This book seems more appropriate for 20-somethings or 30-somethings. But midlife career change doesn’t work this way.”
Here are some ways midlife career change IS different. Please share your own views in the comments section.
(1) You need more sophisticated networking systems.
A Young Career Changer (YCC) can ask for informational interviews. He can ask to shadow someone for a day or two.
But if you’re in your 40’s or 50’s, managers may resist opening their doors to someone who’s a peer, perhaps someone who’s been working elsewhere. When I taught live MBA marketing, my “older” students had trouble getting interviews for projects. “Two gray-haired men? They thought the IRS had come to call,” said one student.
For the record, I offered to create a special project for them, but they declined. They wanted to do the regular assignments.
On the other hand, you probably have a stronger network, more confidence, a healthier perspective and definitely stronger social skills than a YCC. You’re comfortable with your risk profile. You have assets in finances, relationships and/or marketable experience.
(2) You’re un-learning a style of professionalism.
As I like to say:
[Tweet “Corporate life is like professional football. Career change is like playground basketball.”]
A whole different set of moves. You can do it, once you realize what’s going on.
(3) Life happens.
Many 40-plus career changers have teenagers, boomerang kids, aging parents and a whole lot more. But overall, you’ve got more personal commitments, in and out of family. If you’ve been doing something on the side, you’ve built up a history and it’s harder to let it go.
(4) Your day job is more demanding.
By mid-career you’ve probably moved up the corporate ladder and you have more responsibilities. As an executive or professional you may have more flexibility but you work longer hours. And your family becomes more important.
(5) Your comfort zone has gotten broader and deeper.
What’s a lateral move to a YCC may be a giant leap backward at mid-career. I encourage clients to consider the consquences of, say, giving up a large home for a small apartment. Some care a lot. Some barely notice — they’re too excited about the future. Some actually enjoy their new digs, especially if they now live in the middle of the action and have less space to clean up.
What do you think ... is career change different now than when you were younger? Reply in the comment section.
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