How to Make a Midlife Career Change

Is it possible to change career in your midlife? Most definitely! And it’s far more common than you think with many people opting to retrain, take a career break and use transferable skills to completely change direction.

Abi Unwin using a lap top at a house in Bath

“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are probably right.

Henry Ford

What do my clients tell me about career change concerns?

As a career coach, I have worked with hundreds of people who have chosen to make changes to their careers in midlife. The reasons for this vary greatly from person to person. These include; redundancy, wanting more job satisfaction, or to increase earnings, a desire to create a better work life balance and reduce stress, change working hours, change roles due to health issues/find a less physically demanding job, become happier in work and use skills to a greater purpose. There is one common factor which seems to present itself though, and that is the worry of ‘being too old to make a change.’

“How old/young do you need to be to make a career change?” This is a question I will often ask to provoke further thought and challenge the limiting belief many people hold around ‘being too old’ to make a midlife career change. After we explore this in a coaching conversation, it often seems that age isn’t really the issue. More often, low confidence, lack of knowledge around what training is available or what kinds of jobs are out there and little recent experience of applying for jobs are valid reasons for deliberation. I hear from many of my clients that they worry about using Linked In and online applications/interviews which have changed so much since they were last looking for work. Concerns around CV’s being out of date, anxiety about job interviews and lack of knowledge about how to effectively use Linked In are often raised but can be supported by career coaching. Mindset and confidence building are also areas which can be transformed in a series of coaching sessions.

What are the next steps to making a change in career?

  • Get clear on WHY it’s important to you to make this change. Will working less hours mean that you have more time to spend with your family? Or will increasing your earnings allow you to prepare better for retirement, for example. Knowing why you want to make this change and focussing on this will help boost motivation.
  • Get help. You don’t need to do this alone and having someone in your corner to support this change can be invaluable. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for some free information, advice and guidance from local training and employability providers. Check out the employment pages on your local council website or go to National Careers Service to find out what is available. Hiring a professional career coach can be a smart investment and allow you to have one to one tailored support in building confidence, increasing employability skills and clarifying your goals.
  • Focus on small steps. What can you do this week? What is the first action you’d like to take? When we focus on the longer term goal it can often seem overwhelming and too far away from the current reality which causes anxiety and can lower motivation. But if we choose to focus on the very next step, this can feel far more achievable. When we believe we can do something, our willpower increases and then our motivation builds.

What could some next steps be to making a midlife career change for yourself?

  • If you know you want to make a change, what could you do next to start the process and make this happen? Some ideas could be to book a session with a career coach, update your CV with recent work history, create/update your Linked In profile or check out what training courses you could do to upskill/retrain. Free training in areas where there are skills gaps is a good option to consider and further information on this can be found here at Find a Skills Bootcamp – Guidance – GOV.UK ( It may be that you wish to explore what your current strengths and skills are. Perhaps asking your colleagues, manager and/or friends and family what they feel are your six main strengths can be a good place to start.
  • I often begin career coaching with clients by exploring their core values and helping to work out how these align with their personal and professional lives. Knowing what really drives them, and what makes them truly happy and satisfied, is the first step in moving forward for clients that I work with. You can read more about core values here Core Values in the Workplace: 84 Powerful Examples |

If you would like to know more about how I can support you to explore your options and create an action plan for your career change, please get in touch. My advice would be to keep an open mind and trust that there may be an end goal which works well for you that you haven’t thought of yet. But through exploration and further steps, you may come to an exciting and inspiring career which is not only satisfying but completely possible in midlife and beyond!

Published by AbiJane

Personal Development Life Coach and Career Coach

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