Mid to Late-Stage Career Change and Job Change

People over 35 typically have mid- or late-stage careers. They’ve garnered a decade (or a few) of work experience and may be looking to make changes that better reflect their interests, values, and capabilities. In this article, YES explains how you can use your strengths to find a new career or job that provides better job satisfaction. If this article just whets your appetite for more, YES offers resume writing and career coaching services suited for late-stage careers. Contact us today to find out how we can help you find your next role.

Table of Contents

The Various Career Stages
  1. Mid- and Late-Stage Careers: How to Make a Change
  2. Define Your Objectives
  3. Determine Your Transferable Skills
  4. Consider Executive and Consulting Roles
Don’t Ignore Your Personal Network

Making a Mid or Late-Stage Career Change Is Entirely Doable

The Various Career Stages

Most people go through five primary career stages—exploration, establishment, mid-career, late-career, and winding down. The early stages, exploration and establishment, occur between the ages of 18 and 35. During that time, people decide on the career they want to embark on. Many get higher education to prepare for future employment in their chosen careers.

Most people obtain their first “real” job by 25. They begin to learn the ropes, picking up the skills they’ll need to be an influential contributor to their organization. They also start to build relationships with bosses and colleagues who can mentor them for future promotions.

A person between 35 and 45 is in the mid-career stage. They typically have stable roles, and they’ve settled into their professions. The mid-career stage is often one of the most productive for employees. They know the skills necessary to perform their jobs well, and they become more comfortable managing and leading teams.

People in the mid-career stage may have children. If so, they’ll need to balance their work with their family responsibilities. At this stage, some people look for new positions that offer better work-life balance, especially if their current role requires lots of overtime or weekend work.

People in their late-stage careers are over the age of 45. They’re usually quite established in their roles, especially if they’ve worked at the same organization for some time. Younger employees often look to them for guidance and seek their help when they have questions.

Someone in the late stage of their career may look to executive roles for fulfillment. Their years of experience make them attractive to organizations seeking qualified leaders who understand their team’s tasks and responsibilities. Executive careers often come with a large salary, appealing to people who seek to build their retirement savings or pay for their children’s college education.

However, some people in late-stage careers may seek a change that offers greater personal fulfillment or less time spent at work. They may seek to spend some time on hobbies or individual goals rather than devoting all their time to their careers.

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Mid- and Late-Stage Careers: How to Make a Change

Most of the time, people decide on their careers in their teens and early twenties. They select their jobs based on advice from parents and educators as well as on their own interests. However, people change over a lifetime, and what seemed very exciting at 22 may no longer hold a person’s attention in their 40s or 50s.

Even if you’ve been in the same career for most of your life, there’s no reason you can’t move to a different career that interests you more at any point. Here are our tips to make the process a success:

1. Define Your Objectives

Changing your career or industry is a significant decision that can impact your earnings and lifestyle. Before looking for new roles in an area outside your current expertise, think about what you want from your job. Some questions to consider:

  • What is the purpose of your career change? Are you hoping to earn more money, obtain opportunities for advancement, or be more fulfilled?
  • Are you looking for a better work-life balance?
  • Do you prefer a different work environment to the one you now have?

You may not need to change careers if you’re looking at other options because of a perceived pay inequity or too many hours spent at work. Instead, finding a different employer who better aligns with your needs may be the solution.

However, you may need an actual career change if you identify with these statements:

  • You’re tired of the duties and responsibilities of your job, and changing employers won’t help.
  • Your role doesn’t align with your career objectives.
  • You don’t mind putting in the time to learn a new position or pursue additional education.
  • You’re excited to work in a new field, industry, or sector.
  • You recognize that you may start at a lower level with lower pay in your new role until you can demonstrate your capabilities.

Sometimes, a career change doesn’t mean you’ll be working for another employer. Some people use their late-stage careers to start their own businesses or to act as consultants to other organizations.

Once you clarify your objectives and needs, you can better explain yourself to employers who inquire about your career change motivations. You’ll also understand what you want, which saves time you might have spent applying for or even trying roles that don’t fit your priorities.

2. Determine Your Transferable Skills

You’ve likely had some time to build up an enviable list of skills that are attractive to employers. Some of those skills may apply to the roles you are considering.

Think about your transferable hard and soft skills. Hard skills are technical. They concern your expertise with how to do things and may relate to your degree(s). Soft skills involve communication and relationship development traits, like managing teams, public speaking, and the good judgment that comes with experience and maturity.

You may have hard and soft skills that directly relate to the jobs you’re interested in. For instance, if you come from a finance background, you may already possess most of the skills necessary to be a successful data analyst. Finance professionals often handle large amounts of data and may have the software or coding experience that a data analyst requires.

Of course, not all career changes will be straightforward. You may find gaps in your knowledge or education that you must address before obtaining the job you want. For example, if you’re planning a move from teaching to nursing, you’ll likely need to obtain a license before you’re eligible for a role. You may need to return to college to get a nursing degree.

3. Consider Executive and Consulting Roles

A person in their late-stage career may find executive roles attractive, especially if they’re seeking a position that concentrates more on leadership and less on the minutiae of daily responsibilities. Of course, fewer positions are available at the top— but if there’s no room up, you can find a role in another organization or as a consultant.

Doing consulting can be especially attractive during the winding-down career stage. That’s because you may enjoy giving organizations your expertise without a long-term, full-time commitment. You won’t need health insurance due to Medicare, may have a pension and social security income, and may want to work only part-time or intermittently (with time off between contracts).

Executive careers are perfect for people who can lead and motivate others. They typically require out-of-the-box thinking, like implementing a new vision for an organization. Executives usually collaborate with the rest of the leadership team and the organization’s board of directors. They don’t have to have a deep technical background but can be generalists or someone coming from a different specialty.

Most companies seek experienced individuals to lead their businesses, particularly those with a history of successful career endeavors. People in their 40s, 50s, and 60s are optimal choices, since they’ve accumulated years of experience that their younger peers don’t have.

While executive careers come with greater responsibility, they also pay better than mid-level roles. Some executives earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in their positions—a real benefit for people preparing for retirement.

If executive roles are the best choice for you, consider working with YES’ Career Coaching services to prepare for the transition. We also offer Executive Resume writing services to help you stand out among other applicants.

4. Build and Use Your Personal Network

You’ve likely built up an impressive professional network throughout your career. As you begin your transitional career journey, telling others your plans is a good idea. They may be able to help you find a job that aligns with what you’re looking for or connect you with someone else who can.

While you may want to keep your job search private from your current employer, you can reach out to trusted colleagues or prior organizations you worked for. Tell them your goals and objectives. For example, if you plan to start a consulting business, telling people about your future services could lead you to your first customer.

Of course, you may still want to look for jobs through traditional means like online job boards and contact any headhunter you may know who specializes in your new field. However, you can only locate jobs on the hidden job market (where 38% of jobs are obtained) through networking. Start with the people you know who seem either generally well-connected or informed about your target career field. Meet with them to learn how you can help them, as well as to whom else they recommend you speak.

If you want or need to go beyond the people you currently know, make a point to attend events where you can make beneficial connections. Professional happy hours, industry conferences, and job fairs are all excellent opportunities to meet potential employers or clients. Consider joining career-oriented organizations in your desired industry or career path. Often, they’ll hold events where people can connect and share their professional experiences.

Search online to find organizations related to your new career path or industry. Look for groups that meet in your area or host virtual events. As you make a habit of attending the events, you’ll meet individuals who can add value to your job search. They may also provide you with helpful advice to get started.

Making a Mid- or Late-Stage Career Change Is Entirely Doable

While career change or job change may seem intimidating, especially if you’re on the tail end of your professional years, it’s not impossible. Whatever your reasons for your career change, seeking help through career coaching services is essential, because even the best resume won’t get you in the door for a different career. At YES, we offer professional assistance to people in the mid and late stages of their careers who want to make a change—job offer guaranteed. This includes resume writing services to help you land your next role. Contact us today to book your free Career Success Consultation.


About the Authors

President of YES
Farrah is not a resume writer
Vice president of YES

Katherine Metres Akbar is the founder and president of YES Career Coaching & Resume Writing Services, one of Washington metro’s two top-rated career success companies. She and her team have helped over 5,000 people and organizations perfect their resumes, master networking, get interviews, receive offers for dream jobs, resettle employees through outplacement, and optimize their teams. Katherine is the world’s only Interview AikidoTM coach, a Certified Talent Optimization Consultant, Certified Professional Career Coach, and a Certified Professional Interview Coach. An award-winning writer, she previously served as a U.S. diplomat and executive director of a civil rights non-profit. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University.

Michael Akbar is the co-owner and vice president of YES Career Coaching & Resume Writing Services. He is a Certified Professional Career Coach, Certified Federal Career Coach, Certified Business Advisor, and Certified Talent Optimization Consultant helping leaders build their dream teams. Michael leverages his business development background to help coachees get their dream job, often on the hidden job market. Michael has  spent 15 years as an entrepreneur coaching business owners to break through their barriers to success. After talking his way into two jobs in order to get a work visa, Michael was inspired to create Interview AikidoTM to help people get jobs, even when they are underqualified. He holds a Bachelor of Science from McGill University and a Master of Science from the City University of London.

The home team is completed by Farah Akbar, a joyful, stubborn, and—some say—adorable terrier/pitbull mix the Akbars adopted from the shelter after a traumatic early life.


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