8 Pieces of Advice for Mid-career Transitions

Changing careers mid-way can be daunting. Career coaches or individuals who’ve successfully made a mid-career transition, what is one piece of advice you would give to others contemplating such a change?

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Mid-career transition

1. Conduct a Thorough Self-Assessment

Conduct research before making any moves. Start by identifying your core skills, interests, and values to understand what motivates you and how these can translate into a new career path. Then, research industries and roles that align with your identified strengths and passions. Networking is crucial in this phase; reach out to professionals already working in your areas of interest to gain insights and advice.

Consider taking courses or certifications to fill any skill gaps and make your transition smoother. Finally, be prepared to start in a role that might not be at the same level you were in your previous career but see it as a stepping stone toward your new career goals. This strategic approach can significantly ease the transition, making the change less daunting and more successful.

Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

2. Understand Your Motivation

The biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone contemplating a career change is to understand your own motivation. As someone who has made a few different transitions in my career, and even education before that, it’s important to have a reason and interrogate it further.

Do you want to change industries just because you know you hate the one you’re currently working in, or do you want to move to a specific field or industry because that’s what you’re passioante about? Are you purely financially motivated or are you looking for a slower pace? Are you tired of commuting and just want any job as long as you can do it from home? Are you planning on moving to another state or even country? The answers to those questions are all massively important to the decision you’re ultimately going to make and understand that you might have to compromise on some other non-career goals you might have as well.

I had to do all of that introspective work when my wife and I decided to move to Australia and essentially start over with no connections or work history there.

Ultimately, it’s an intensely personal decision that you need to make on your own, or with your partner if you have one. So, make sure you put in the work to understand your own motivation and what you really want and do it for the right reasons.

Travis Schreiber, Erase Technologies, LLC

3. Ask Yourself “Why”

As with any big change in life, the most important thing to do is to ask yourself: “What is my ‘why’?” Why is this change important to you? How do you stand to benefit from it? How does it impact the people who depend on you? What will you gain, and what will you lose? Knowing the ‘why’ behind key decisions in life is the secret to finding your purpose.

Asking yourself what your why is behind a career change will give you a stronger sense of purpose, direction and well-being. It serves as a personal mission statement. You wouldn’t start a business without a mission statement and knowing its purpose – you should treat personal decisions and changes the same way.

Knowing your why will help you develop more confidence so you can take that step forward and make a purposeful mid-career transition that will positively serve you for years to come.

Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

Businesswoman learning

4. Gain Qualifications

Changing careers mid-way can indeed be daunting, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. As someone who has successfully made a mid-career transition, here is one piece of advice I would give to others contemplating such a change.

Be open to learning and unafraid of starting at the bottom. Embrace the opportunity to gain new skills and experiences, even if it means taking a step back in terms of title or salary. Use this transition period to network, upskill, and explore different opportunities within your new field. Stay resilient and focused on your long-term goals, knowing that this transition is a valuable stepping stone towards a more fulfilling career.

To ease the transition, consider further education or training to gain the necessary qualifications for your new career. This could be a formal degree, certification, or even online courses.

Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

5. Don’t Leave Without a Plan

Changing careers is not a decision that should be made impulsively. It will require a lot of hard word and sacrifice, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If the decision is right for you, then you should make it happen. But before you take the leap, prepare as much as you can—while you have the stability of your current job, pay, benefits, etc.

Many companies offer professional development and paid college courses that you can take while employed that lead to new divisions within the company. These programs often have wide nets that can overlap with where you are going. If there is any overlap with your company’s offerings and your new career direction, take advantage of it while you can.

If you can become qualified to begin your new career before leaving your current one, you will avoid a lot of sleepless nights wondering if you made the right call after you make the switch.

Jordan Conrad, Writing Explained Business Writing

6. Test The Waters

One of the best things you can do before switching careers is test the waters. You might feel like you need to get out of your current position and do something different, but doing so quickly could cause problems. My advice is to get involved in the industry you’d like to switch to by taking on freelance projects, taking part-time roles, or participating in online courses.

The more you know about what you want to do, the better. Otherwise, you’re going to get stuck in a weird position where you need to sharpen your skills and knowledge before you can start applying to jobs and fully make the change.

Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

Considering career change

7. Embrace What Will Transfer

While I’m not a career coach, my journey from preparing for and passing the CPA exam through years of education and gaining the required experience to not working as a CPA but launching a career as an affiliate marketer for CPA prep has taught me a valuable lesson. Here’s my advice: Embrace what will transfer.

Transitioning careers mid-way seems daunting because we often view our skills as confined to our current field. However, the skills you’ve honed in one career can set you up for success in another, sometimes entirely unexpected, field. For me, the discipline, analytical skills, writing, and deep understanding of the CPA field became my greatest assets in affiliate marketing for CPA prep.

Don’t feel like you have to reinvent the wheel if you’re ready to venture out and do something else. You might be surprised at how your current expertise can serve as a bridge to your new career.

Bryce Welker, Testing.org

8. It’s Never Too Late

Being someone who changed careers herself, one piece of advice I’d like to give to others is that it’s never too late to learn new skills. People generally think that when they reach a certain age or at a certain level of their careers, it’s already too late for them. Even though they desperately want to switch careers, they refrain from doing so and resort to just going with the flow.

They could never be more wrong.

If you’re at a certain stage of your career and want to explore other opportunities, then by all means do it. Just ensure that you have what it takes to adapt and do what needs to be done. Identify the skill gap and work on it. It’s that simple.

It’s never too late to explore yourself and learn new things that excite you. If you have this mindset, then the transition will be easier for you, and things may actually work out in the end.

Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms