Changing careers at 40 or 50 by retraining
The article above was just published recently in a local newspaper that I read daily.
The headline is correct – it IS never too late to change your career, and the suggestions are workable. Retraining and changing careers at 40, 50 or older isn’t as daunting as it used to be. The generation that lost their jobs of work in the late 1980s are very different from the 40 and 50 year olds today. The world has changed so much in that time. Mobile phones didn’t exist in the late 80’s (well, except as bricks). The internet was just a fledgling idea and the super highway we know today hadn’t been thought of yet.
Today, nearly all 40 and 50 year olds will have a mobile they carry with them and because of that, they’ll also have access to today’s web. Most homes will also have a laptop of PC at home, access to broadband, smart TV and may also have devices like Alexa on their lounge table. Everybody shops at Amazon these days too for things like Christmas, Birthdays and general shopping.
The world has moved online.
One thing that must be said though, people don’t generally quit their jobs to go back to University, it usually happens when they get made redundant from their jobs and have a little time on their hands. That happened to me in 2016. I was 55 at the time. After a few months the novelty of doing nothing wore off and I had to start looking for things to do to keep the brain ticking over. I chose property and marketing because of their high scores as passive income generators.
The newspaper article is right on the money on three particular points it makes:
1). Retrain for a role in an expanding sector and make sure your course is recognised.
2). Keep up to date with relevant technology.
3). Demonstrate you are enthusiastic about your new career.
Retrain for a role in an expanding sector
Business is like fashion. Trends come and go and the successful business person keeps an eye on those trends and moves into them if they have ‘legs’. The better you get at business, the easier it is to pick out those trends and move into them.
Looking to retrain for a change of career needs similar insight. You need to establish which skills are going to be needed and which industries are dying. There’s no point in re-educating yourself in skills which won’t be required in 6 months.
Retraining can be free, but sometimes you may have to pay for courses to allow you to move on. This is sometimes unavoidable, but knowledge is valuable and investing in yourself is one of the best things you can ever do.
Keep up to date with relevant technology
Technology can be frightening. Lots of things can be difficult to understand, but there are lots of courses out there and the internet is a mine of information for those who want or need to further their knowledge.
These days, you can pretty much learn anything online by watching YouTube videos and taking Udemy courses. There are also thousands of books available through Amazon to build a library of knowledge. Don’t be a tech dunce or you’ll be left behind. Like it or loathe it, everything in the World today is based on tech.
Make sure you have skills in Computer software usage. Learn about spreadsheets and how they work. The industry standard is Microsoft Excel. This is used in so many different industries for so many different tasks, from accounting to risk analysis, databases to prediction. Courses are plentiful. Most of the software used in the workplace can be run on your home computer. Try to familiarise yourself with Word (writing letters and reports), Powerpoint (preparing presentations for yourself or your colleagues) and which software is best for which task.
The industry standard for creating websites and blogs these days is WordPress (this blog is written using this technology). If you’re looking to gain entry to the lucrative world of creating websites and such, again you can look for educating yourself using online platforms such as Udemy and Wealthy Affiliate. You can make an entire living online these days by selling other people’s products, without the need for stock, a shop even. E-commerce may be killing high streets, but complaing about it won’t do any good. This is the way things are moving. Join in, don’t fight it.
Demonstrate you are enthusiastic about your new career
Obviously, whilst you think of retraining yourself, pick something you enjoy and can enthuse about. If the prospects don’t excite you then you’re going to find it very difficult to sustain your motivation and any prospective employer will pick up on it. If you need motivation, there are some fantastic TED talks available online.
As I touched on earlier, there has never been a better time to retrain. The world moves fast, but the resources available to you compared to 20 or 30 years ago are millions of times greater. The knowledge you can gain online is phenomenal and by demonstrating you can adapt and move with technology, you’ll be showing a prospective employer you are flexible and not afraid of new things.
Being a senior person can be advantageous
If nothing else, inspire yourself. Learn something new. Being an older person can have it’s advantages. The University of Life means you should know how to talk to people, negotiate with them and figure out what they need. Life is an education in itself, so use what you’ve learned to your advantage. Remember, the biggest competitive advantage is knowledge.
Being a Luddite will never get you a job. It might make fellow Luddites laugh in the pub, but you’ll be no richer and other people will step ahead of you. Be smart and educate yourself. Surprise people.
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