We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” While this may have some application to your pet, it isn’t a good analogy for describing yourself. After all, people are great at learning new things at any age. Thus, people can pursue successful careers regardless of their age. Whether you are changing careers after your first job or looking to pivot into a new industry after decades of experience, here are six tips for a successful career change at any age.
Develop a Personal Brand
When we think about brands, we probably think about companies. However, in the internet and social media age, brands are people too. For example, when you think about Michael Jordan, you likely think about him being a successful basketball player and having a successful clothing line. This is his brand.
You can also enhance your career success by building a brand. To do this, think about how you want others to think of you or describe you. Then take steps to exhibit those qualities. LinkedIn can be particularly useful in establishing a career brand. You can share content or even create your own to show thought leadership.
Continually Develop Skills
As we live in a rapidly changing world, it’s more important than ever to continue honing your skills. Gone are the days when you could complete your education and go decades without learning new things.
Today’s leaders focus on constantly learning and improving. There are many ways that you can engage in professional development. LinkedIn Learning is a great resource. There are also many other resources available online. Buying a book, attending a community workshop, or going to a professional conference are also great ways to learn. These can help you gain skills you may lack for your ideal career.
Build and Leverage Your Network
Networking is important because it allows you to help others and reach out to your contacts for help. Ideally, you’ve already been consistently working to grow your network. If not, it’s time to start. Building a strong network will help you discover opportunities you may not otherwise encounter.
When you decide to seek a career change, using your network can be a great way to make that happen. This is particularly true if you know someone in the new field you want to target. Networking can be an excellent way to get your foot into the door or get a valuable recommendation.
Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor is one of the best steps to take for a successful career change. Shifting to a new field typically requires acquiring new knowledge and potentially learning or improving skills. You are never too old to have a valuable mentor.
A mentor can help guide you through your career transition by providing advice on the next steps and feedback on your progress. You can find a mentor through formal programs with professional organizations or by asking someone you know for help. Periodically meeting with your mentor is a great way to get value from the relationship.
Identify Transferable Skills
If you decide to make a career change to a vastly different industry, you may have difficulty translating your prior experience into a benefit. However, chances are that you have many transferable skills you’ve demonstrated in the past, which will help you succeed in your new career. Identifying these skills is key.
Be sure to highlight transferable skills on your resume and in interviews. Tell stories of how you have demonstrated these skills in the past. Stories are captivating and help prove that you have a history of performing a skill. For example, don’t just say you are a critical thinker. Make sure to give examples of how you’ve demonstrated this skill.
Connect with a Recruiter
Another strategy for making a career change is to learn from the source what skills and experiences employers value. Connecting with a recruiter is a great way to do this. You can request an informational interview with a recruiter on LinkedIn. The worst thing that can happen is they say no.
When chatting with a recruiter, be sure to ask questions about what employers look for and any opportunities they are aware of to develop your own skills. They may also inform you about ways to get experience in your new field.
While a career change is a big decision, there are many things you can do to successfully navigate this time in your life. Many people successfully change careers every single day. Follow these six tips to help with a successful career change at any age.
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