Expert advice for changing careers after 50

By Michael Contento

Deciding to change careers is a challenging prospect at any age but particularly for those over the age of 50, many of whom have worked in a single profession for most of their lives. You can make it easier if you prepare for the transition and maintain the right attitude. The following are factors to consider when exploring your options: 

Don’t

  • Get stuck in the past: Changing careers represents the beginning of a new phase of your life. Do not allow yourself to get bogged down in the past. Rather, focus on the future. Get excited about where you’re headed instead of fixating on the way things were.
  • Feel you are owed anything: This requires a lot of humility. Your experience is valuable, but others may not accept that. In your new position, you may report to a manager or boss who lacks your life experience. Just because you’re in, or nearing, your senior years, doesn’t mean you have seniority. Stay focused and try to deliver simplicity to your superiors. With time, they will hopefully recognize the value of your counsel.
  • Be someone you’re not: If you’re not a software wizard, don’t pretend to be just to fit the mould of a new career. Own your experience (and your age!) without being stuck in your ways. Being true to yourself will ensure your next career move is a positive one.
  • Act too old: Perception counts for a lot when starting over in a new career. Banish from your vocabulary sayings like, “I’ve been in this business for 25 years…”, resist the urge to name drop and keep your cultural references recent (for example, Shopify and Uber, not Yahoo and AOL).

 

Do

  • Your homework: Regardless of the industry, it is important to fully grasp the qualifications and demands of the career you’re considering. Seek guidance from people already working in your targeted field to ensure you have the correct training—and if you don’t, consider taking courses to learn what you need to know.
  • Have an open mind: Today’s workforce doesn’t resemble that of yesterday. Rather than focusing on a traditional 9 to 5, consider consulting, freelancing or part-time employment as just some of the options available in today’s economy. Believe in the art of the possible.
  • _Be proactive: By now you’ve likely built an extensive network. Reach out to your inner circle for insight on the career landscape and meet as many people as possible who share a common professional interest. Make your own luck!
  • _Volunteer your time: From expanding your network and filling a gap on your resume to learning new skills and gaining new experiences, volunteering has many upsides for those experiencing a career transition.

 

Finding a new career after 50 can do more than give you a new set of skills—it can offer you a new lease on professional life and provide new purpose for years to come. Preparation and the right attitude are keys to ensuring a positive transition. 

Growth expert Michael Contento is the CEO of My Blue Umbrella, a leading Canadian IT business-transformation company, and an investor businesses. Connect with him on LinkedIn.