Starting your career over at any age can be intimidating. As you get older, these fears can become even more intense. But starting a new career after 50 isn’t as overwhelming—or as difficult—as you might think. Here are some ways to get the career you want.
Tips for Starting a New Career After 50
Determine What You Want to Do
When changing careers, it’s important to consider the type of lifestyle you want to live and how your change will support that lifestyle. Many prefer a career after 50 with more work-life balance or a career that will help them minimize stress and spend more time enjoying personal hobbies and interests.
Before you decide, though, think about the lifestyle you hope to support with that career, and you’ll have a better sense of what you’re looking for in terms of salary and flexible work options like working from home and flexible scheduling.
List Your Skills
Transferable skills are so important when changing careers. That’s why it’s crucial to create a long list of your best workplace skills. This should be everything from computer skills to specialized knowledge in your current field to skills like communication and listening.
The next step is to compare these skills to the ones needed in the new career field. Highlight on your resume and cover letters the skills you already have that translate to your new career.
And don’t forget to put an emphasis on tech skills. While unfair, many employers worry that job seekers over 50 won’t have the technology skills to keep up.
“What job search ageism is really about is the employer’s fear that a professional will be out of touch, or not interested in learning new things, or set in their ways. Job seekers over 50 need to show that they’re comfortable with technology, comfortable working for managers who may be significantly younger than them, and that their extensive experience isn’t going to stop them from getting in and getting their hands dirty, so to speak,” shares Brie Reynolds, FlexJobs’ Career Development Manager and Coach.
When you’re thinking about reinventing yourself—and your career—you’re going to need help from friends and family. Let them know what you’d like to do and enlist their help. They might be able to help you write a great cover letter or reach out to their contacts who might be able to help you network. Or it might be even as simple as providing emotional support as you navigate these new waters—and find a job that you love.
If you’re a FlexJobs member, you have access to our discounted career coaching service. You can meet for 30 minutes with one of our expert career coaches to discuss anything related to your new job search.
Reynolds shares some of the benefits meeting with a coach: “One of the most common topics people talk to FlexJobs career coaches about is ageism and being an older job seeker. Coaches can help job seekers identify what they’re already doing well and pinpoint areas for improvement to guard against ageism. For many folks in this position, they haven’t had to search for a new job in a long time and things have changed quite a lot.
Coaches can help people get fully up to date on job search trends and what employers expect to see from applicants today. Especially when it comes to ageism, it’s helpful to have an independent set of eyes—your coach—go through your application materials, LinkedIn profile, and other things looking for small changes that can make a big difference in how an employer sees you and the first impression you make.”
Consider More Education
You’ll need a plan in order to be successful in your job search. After you revamp your resume, you should take a good look at the job listings in your desired career field and see what they are asking for.
If you’re lacking some of the skills and expertise in order to be considered a viable candidate, it’s a good idea to brush up on your knowledge. That way, you’ll meet the qualifications when you’re ready to start seriously job hunting.
“Job seekers over 50 need to show employers that they are interested and open to learning new things and that they regularly engage in learning on their own. Independently taking a professionally related class or earning a new certification can show employers that you’re self-motivated to do the continuous learning that they prize,” says Reynolds.
Job seekers of any age who are seeking a new career field should make a significant effort to rebrand themselves. This involves updating your resume and online profiles (or creating them if you don’t have any!) to match your new desired career.
“Small things like having a current profile picture on LinkedIn, using a popular email platform like Gmail, or addressing your cover letter with ‘Dear Team at ABC Company’ instead of ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ can help employers continue on to the important pieces of the resume without getting distracted by age red flags.
Including a Technology Skills section on the resume that showcases the programs and platforms you’re familiar with can help show employers you’re comfortable with technology and learning new things,” says Reynolds.
Test the Waters
It’s not enough to want to have a new career after 50; you have to try it out before making the commitment. So look for ways in which you can test out your new career, such as getting a (paid) adult internship or even a part-time or flexible job in your newfound area of interest. That firsthand experience will help you in determining if this job type—and industry as a whole—is a true fit for you.
Best Careers for Workers Over 50
While you absolutely want to choose a new career that appeals to you and even uses some of your previous experience and skills, some career fields are more primed for older workers than others.
AARP created a list of 10 jobs that are expected to have the largest labor shortages over the next five years. These jobs need workers and could be a good fit for those who are starting a new career after 50. Here are the top four from their list.
AARP included pharmacists, exercise physiologists, dietitians and nutritionists, therapists, podiatrists, optometrists, surgeons, orthodontists, dentists, and chiropractors in this job category.
Sales executive, sales consultant, sales agent, direct salesperson, and technical sales representative are some other versions of this role.
Computer and information research scientists, computer system analysts, programmers, information security analysts, web and software developers, and computer user support specialists comprise this category.
According to AARP, “These jobs encompass advertising and promotions managers; managers for marketing, sales and fundraising; and public relations. Generally, these positions require at least a bachelor’s degree.”
Finding a New Career After 50 with FlexJobs
Starting a new career at or after 50 puts you in a unique situation to utilize your life experience and professional background to find a career you’re passionate about.
And when it comes to starting your job search, FlexJobs has flexible jobs in over 50 career categories. New jobs are posted daily with flexible work options such as remote work, freelance gigs, and part-time schedules. No matter what new career you want to start after 50, FlexJobs can help you find something that fits your life.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
This is a version of an article that was originally published on November 14, 2013.
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Jennifer Parris, FlexJobs Career Writer
Jennifer comes from corporate America… and a four-hour daily commute! Now, as a Career Writer for FlexJobs , she commutes to the corner office (in her house, that is) in under 60 seconds! Says Jennifer: “I’ve always been a writer,…Read More >
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