By Karin Lewis MSW, Employment Counsellor
Making a change is never easy.
As part of our Employment Source and Career Exploration services at JVS Toronto, we offer clients an opportunity to rethink their career direction. As an Employment Counsellor, I am often asked by clients if it is too late in life for them to make a career change. My answer: don’t dismiss the possibility of a career change, no matter how old you are. People can succeed, no matter their age, if they plan the transition carefully. As inspiration, consider some of the examples of successful late career changers in this video:
However, career change, like all life’s changes, does come at a cost, which must be carefully considered:
- Expect to take longer to find your next job. If you make a change, you will be stepping outside of your network and expertise, and competing with people who have more experience than you. In this tight economy, employers are anxious about making hiring mistakes, and they often prefer to hire people with established reputations in their field.
- Be prepared to take a pay cut. No matter how well experienced and skilled you are in your former field, remember there is always someone out there who has established experience and a reputation in your new sector, and you will be expected by employers and customers to pay your dues and start at the bottom.
- Make sure to grow and extend your network. Don’t expect to be able to rely on your present contacts to recommend you for new opportunities in which you do not have experience. It will be necessary to tap into your current network for new contacts who might be in your target field. Consider joining new professional associations, finding new LinkedIn groups and getting involved in activities where you might meet such people.
- Consider investing time and possibly money in gaining new skills. Investigate your target field to find out about new software, certifications, or knowledge (such as legislation) that you might need to enter the field — read job postings and speak to people in the field. Seek out the skills via courses, volunteer work or through self directed learning.
- Volunteer or shadow in the field. Try to get to know the field from the inside out. If you can volunteer or job shadow in your target field, you might be able to learn something about the difficulties and rewards it brings, and to decide if it is worth the challenge.
Once you weigh the pros and cons, you might find that age is not an issue. If so, take the chance and make it work. You won’t be the first person to challenge the norms and prove that it can be done.
There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age”.
– Sophia Loren
Karin Lewis is the Blog Editor and a contributing writer. With almost 20 years experience working in employment in Canada and internationally, she presently balances the roles of Employment Counsellor, Consultant to Toronto’s Jewish Family and Child, as well as Communications and Marketing (Social Media) Specialist at JVS. She also wrote for The Examiner about labour market trends and job search, and has been featured on CTV National News.