Career change at 30

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Considering a career change at 30 can be a scary prospect. With a solid number of years work experience under your belt it may feel that you’ve only just got started on your first career. Or perhaps you studied into your late 20s and a few years into the career you’ve been working towards since school, are feeling disengaged and disillusioned.

Getting started in the world of work post education is tough; securing your first ‘proper job’ and then climbing the ladder to a second, perhaps third job and beyond. Added to this you probably have more commitments than you did when you were starting out – bills to pay and family to look after. Deciding to try something different at 30 may make you feel that all your hard work has been wasted and you need to start again from scratch.

Don’t panic – you will have undoubtedly developed transferable skills over the years and your experience will have taught you lot about what you do and don’t want from a job.

You know more about yourself than ever before and thus, are much better equipped to make career decisions. Whether you are aware of it or not, the 30 year old you is probably quite different to the 18 year old you in the work environment.

Think carefully about why you feel a career change is needed, and pinpoint exactly the reasons you want to move on. Is your work unfulfilling? Do you want to earn more money? Is work taking over your life? Are you under-challenged? Do you dislike your colleagues? Make a note of your reasons for leaving. Consider what parts of the job you enjoy, if any. Perhaps there are one or two tasks you actually like doing, or perhaps the best thing about your role is chatting to colleagues over coffee. Also think about the parts of the role that are unbearable. As above, this might be specific tasks, or maybe it’s the expectation that everyone in business works late. Make a note of your thoughts.

Try mapping out all the skills you have developed over the years. Many such as communicating at various levels of an organisation and negotiation, will be abilities that are relevant in many roles. Identify which of these skills are your greatest strengths. Knowing what you can offer an organisation will increase your confidence as well as giving insight into the sort work that will allow you to flourish. Gathering these ideas together will give you a clear view of your preferences and provide a template from which to start thinking about your next role.

Having understood what you are looking for, reconsider whether a change of career is the best solution. Would working in a different organisation or industry, with different values improve your work life? If you love your organisation but hate your job, could you move sideways into a different department? Are there projects you can get involved in that will give you an idea of what other jobs might be like?

Still convinced your choice of career is the problem? Start planning your exit strategy. Consider what alternative paths you could pursue and how you could explore them. Talk to people doing different roles, volunteer or take a short course. Could you go part-time in your current role to allow you to also work part-time in a new field? Could you try freelancing?

Making a career change at 30 is no bad thing – these days, changing careers is the new normal. At 30 you often have a much clearer view of who you are and what you want from life. This can really help you to make an informed choice about your next career – one you may not have been able to make in your teens or twenties.

Enjoy the process, get excited about the possibilities and in another 10 years, you may be ready for another change!