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Want More? How to Figure Out If a Midlife Career Change Is Right for You

Here we are in 2022! An opportunity to reimagine what work looks like for you. And if there’s ever been a time for a change it’s NOW as employers are open to creative ways to fill talent gaps and consider candidates with a range of experience and backgrounds.

But many women who come to work with us at EvolveMe tell us they’re stuck. Are you asking yourself:

  • Is now the right time to make a change?

  • Can I afford to do something new?

  • How will I manage to find a job at my age?

  • Are my skills still relevant?

  • Is it too late to try something new?

Sound like you? These questions can fill you with self-doubt. And if you’re not careful, this thinking can prevent you from moving forward. Don’t let that happen to you! You’ve done it before. And you can do it again.

How many jobs have you had so far? Think all the way back to when you were a teenager.

By age 50, the average person will have held 12 different jobs. 12 jobs! And many women in midlife are still looking for that role that will give meaning to their next chapter. It’s okay to still be searching!

If you’re considering changing jobs or re-entering the paid workforce, you’re not alone.

This is the moment of great reset. Get this - 30% of employees are projected to be in a different role or vocation in the next 18 months.

To explore the steps to figure out if now’s the right time to make a change, we recently had an illuminating conversation with Emily Lamia, Career Coach and Founder of Pivot Journeys, at our monthly EvolveMe + Ellevate Midlife Career Changers Roundtable.

Whether you’re thinking about leaving your current role, heading back to the paid workforce (in your previous or a different field), or toying with starting your own venture, this is a conversation you don’t want to miss!

It’s full of gems to help give you the clarity you’ve been searching for. It’s hard to tease out the factors that you should take into account – she helps you break it down. Check out these tips and see how a change starts to feel doable - not daunting!

EvolveMe: The women we work with come to us in midlife knowing they’re not fulfilled or happy but unsure if it’s really the right time for a change.

What factors should you take into account? How do you know if it's your role, your industry, your colleagues, or where you are in your life that’s leading you to explore a new direction?

And Is it important to pinpoint this?

Emily Lamia: It’s super important to pinpoint this! I always think it’s a helpful exercise to pull apart the variables that could be influencing how you feel and try changing them to see if it makes a difference in how you view your situation.

For example, if you could change your boss, would your job satisfaction totally change? If you worked on different types of projects or took on a new role, would that make a difference in how you felt about your work? Or if you got to do the same job, but in a different sector, would that change how meaningful your work felt?

Try giving these variables ratings: Is your excitement level with your current situation a 5/10 … but if you had a different (and great) boss it would be an 8/10? I find when people put numbers to their feelings, it can unearth what’s most important to them.

EvolveMe: What are 3 signs that tell you it’s time to make a move? What are the parameters for deciding?

Of course, if you dread getting up for work each morning, that may be a clue! But what are the less obvious signs you should look for to figure out what’s not working?

EL: Yes - pit in your stomach, Sunday evening blues every weekend, crying more, or having a ton of stress and anxiety - those are definite clues it’s time to make a change.

There are a few common themes I hear from folks who feel like it’s time to make a move --- feeling burned out, working in a toxic workplace, wanting to make more money.

But the one theme I hear a ton- and find really interesting - is that people are thinking about a change because they want more. They want more responsibility, more seniority. They want to grow, be challenged, and do more than they’re doing now. So when someone is feeling the desire to level up and do more (and when they have the bandwidth for it) I think that’s another big clue that it’s time to make a move.

"...people are thinking about a change because they want more. They want more responsibility, more seniority. They want to grow, be challenged, and do more than they’re doing now."

EvolveMe: So many factors can hold women back from making a change in midlife.

  • confidence issues

  • being in one industry for too long

  • career breaks/resume gaps

  • concerns about ageism

  • being hesitant to get off a linear career path

What a-ha moments have convinced your clients to move forward when they’re feeling hesitant?

EL: I love this question - a-ha moments come in all different forms, but here are a few I’ve witnessed that resonate with lots of folks.

Lisa’s A-Ha Moment

Lisa was waiting for a reorganization of her department to put her in a higher level role, but the track record of dysfunction at her organization ran deep. She was always hearing, ‘next week we should have an update’ and it never materialized.

At some point, Lisa realized nothing was going to change, and even if it did, this wasn’t the type of place she wanted to work, given the track record of internal politics and lack of clear answers and strategies. Now, while she’s working and collecting that paycheck, she’s building up a roster of consulting clients for her next move.

Jennifer’s A-Ha Moment

Jennifer had taken an 8-year career break to focus on her family and was hoping to return to her legal career. Her a-ha moment came from participating in one of your EvolveMe events! It was an event where other women who had taken a career break were able to connect and share their fears about returning to the workplace.

After that event, something shifted for her - less than a week later she was suddenly setting up conversations and feeling so much more confident. I think realizing how many other people were in the same situation and had the same worries that she had made her feel not so alone in her journey - and that gave her confidence to put herself out there.

EvolveMe: Does this time of the “great resignation” change how you should think about making a change? Why or why not? Are companies responding differently to career changers? To resume gaps? To ageism?

EL: It doesn’t change the importance of tailoring your resume and spending time on interview preparation -- no matter how good the market is for job seekers, at the end of the day, you still have to put in the work to stand out against the top candidates.

But it is worth looking at the supply and demand situation for the type of work and sector you’re targeting. For example, if you want a big change and being a software developer or data scientist sounds interesting to you, it could be a great time to make that shift given the incredible demand for those roles and employers being willing to look at candidates who have different backgrounds.

The pandemic has definitely made gaps in the resume much more acceptable and not considered a big deal. The job seeker does need to make sense of the gap to reassure the employer they have the energy, enthusiasm, and relevant skills for the work they’re applying for. I wish I could say ageism is a thing of the past, but it definitely still exists.

But if there was ever a time making a change was more acceptable and viewed favorably, it’s now!

EvolveMe: So now what? How do you take action on these thoughts once you’ve identified them and decided the time is right? What do you do first? Where do you start?

Step 1 Once you have a sense of what variables you’d like to change, you can start to play around with those variables.

Step 2 Then you can start brainstorming ideas. Challenge yourself to come up with a bunch of different scenarios for the next few years.

Step 3 After you’ve got some ideas, then you can go out and explore:

  • You can talk to people who've made similar pivots to see what it was like for them, and what they might suggest.

  • You can talk to people who are doing the work you’re interested in and hear more about what it’s actually like to do that work.

  • You can attend events on the topics that appeal to you and see what gets you energized.

  • You can research publications, books and newsletters to see what feels right. Get some ideas, then get genuinely curious about those ideas.

"...if there was ever a time making a change was more acceptable and viewed favorably, it’s now!"

And most importantly, don’t go at it alone! There’s no user manual for midlife career change, but there are like-minded communities of women in your corner! (hint: check out EvolveMe's signature program, the Reinvention Collective)

See if your mindsets are setting you up for success this year. Download EvolveMe’s free resource here:

Learn more about how Pivot Journeys can support you with tools, resources and events to support your career transition:

Here’s to our collective success this year!


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