Even if you’ve identified that there are internal or external reasons that you may want to consider making a midlife career change, ask yourself this: “Is there an opportunity to improve my current situation?”
As previously mentioned, some of these things may be temporary and the issue may resolve itself. But the other piece of the puzzle is you. Is there some way that you could make a change that would improve the situation? For example, could you transfer to a similar position in a different part of the company? Could you talk to your supervisor and see if there are opportunities for additional responsibility or advancement that you may not be aware of? Could improving your skills (for example, pursuing additional education, training, or certifications) help you?
If you feel your current situation can’t be improved, the next thing to do is develop a plan. Make sure you have a plan for what you want to do next before you decide to make a change. Think before you act — don’t be impulsive. Change can be difficult — the bigger the change, the more difficult it may be.
Also, you want to make sure you’re running towards something you want to do, and not running away from something you don’t. Being impulsive may lead you to do something you may later regret — like one of those viral “I Quit” videos that are fun to watch, but may lead to long-term ramifications when prospective employers Google your name.
Assess your marketability at another company or for another career path. What skills, education, and experience do you have to offer? Inventory your accomplishments. In the next section, where we address practical strategies, we’ll talk about the value of having your resume professionally written so you can see how you stack up on paper for your desired next job or new career.
Consider the timing of making a midlife career change, if you decide that’s what you want to do. For example, you may not want to leave your job in November if you’d earn an annual bonus if you stayed another month. The same is true for things like vested options in a stock plan or retirement account — make sure you manage the timing of your departure to maximize your benefits. Basically, don’t leave money on the table if you can help it.
Along with considering the timing of your departure, do you need to do some things before you change jobs or careers? Perhaps you need to take some classes or earn a certification before you’ll be prepared to make a job or career change. Create a Personal/Professional Development Plan (PDP) for yourself, outlining the steps you need to take to bridge the gap between where you are now (skills, education, and experience) and what you need in your new job or career. Checking off as many of those items as you can will help make the transition smoother.
Finally, it’s easier to find a job when you have a job, so don’t just quit your job. And don’t burn bridges at your former employer, if you can help it. Give ample notice, offer to train your replacement, prepare a checklist or cheat sheet for your replacement, etc.