According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a person is likely to change careers 10 to 15 times in their lifetime. Therefore, some of these shifts could happen when one is already in their forties or even fifties.
Here’s the thing, though. Work presents certain challenges to different people. Those who want to shift jobs midlife may find themselves doubting whether they are too old to do that. Questions like “Am I too late to pursue another?” are common.
Some may think that they don’t possess the skills anymore to make themselves valuable to an organization. Competing against the tech-savvy millennials and Generation Z will also be difficult.
But as the saying goes, nothing is really impossible with life. It won’t be easy, but with preparation, it is achievable. Here are three ideas to help older employees explore new options:
1. Embrace a Growth Mindset
Contrary to popular belief, maintaining a fixed mindset isn’t entirely disadvantageous. According to American psychologist Carol Dweck, it helps people accept that not all things need changing. Rather, they may require acceptance. Take, for example, one’s gender orientation and aging.
However, a growth mindset is also necessary to remind a person that many things still change. That includes a person’s ability to learn.
A 2018 research in Brain Sciences also explores the neuroscience between intrinsic motivation and growth mindset. It cites that people who have a growth mindset learn and improve themselves without looking or waiting for any incentive or reward in the end.
Further, those with a growth mindset are more likely to be receptive to feedback. They possess a heightened awareness of and attention to their errors.
The bottom line is embracing a growth mindset can change the way the brain behaves. It correlates with intrinsic motivation, so when this is high, the person’s willingness to seek self-development also increases. The ability to constantly seek development is essential to remain competitive in the market.
2. Upgrade both Soft and Hard Skills
The workplace changes with the times. Before the pandemic, an office served as the communal and the primary center for transactions, collaborations, and work. Today, employees are eager to do most of these tasks at home. The COVID-19 pandemic made the hybrid office model more popular and acceptable.
It’s the same thing with soft and hard skills. According to Seek, the top five most in-demand skills in Australia and New Zealand include adaptability, analytical thinking, empathy, and resilience. Many employers also want their workers to be IT literate.
It also pays to have more specialized skills as menial or routine tasks are more susceptible to automation. In other words, the job becomes easily dispensable.
Fortunately, learning new skills is more convenient as long as individuals maintain their growth mindsets. Teams like Skills Recognition International offer several short courses to supplement their knowledge, rebuild their skills, or introduce new methods into their list of techniques.
They can also assess one’s competency beforehand to find out which courses are ideal. Best of all, employees can learn online, so they can continue working while attending classes.
3. Know the Goal
While shifting careers at 40 or 50 years old is not impossible, it also leaves very little room for mistakes. After all, more likely, the individual has less than 15 years to make a mark in the new industry.
One of the ways to avoid that is to know the goal for doing so:
• Is it to increase one’s income or experience significant career growth?
• Does the individual want to pursue a completely different interest?
• Does the employee like to enter a more stable industry, one that’s less threatened by automation?
• Is it to pursue a career that more related to their primary interests?
• Do they like to find a job that is more relaxing or less stressful?
• Are they looking for work they can do part-time but provides considerable income?
The importance of goal setting is simple: it serves as the guiding light for every step in the career change. It can dictate the kinds of skills the employee needs to have to compete and enter the new industry, set expectations right, and ensure the plan doesn’t lead to regret later.
Before, the rule of the game in an organization is seniority: those who came first have the privilege to enjoy promotions ahead of the others. These days, it’s the performance that counts. These changes only show that workplace dynamics are never constant. Instead, it evolves. For those who want to shift careers, they must do the same as well.