Switching careers and finding jobs that will fit your skillset when you hit the 40+ mark may seem like an impossible task, or at least a very hard one. Here's why it's not.
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As a career man or skilled worker who's "seen it all," your strongest card to play is experience, and—although you can't just rely on it—it will make your life a lot easier.
It's true that jobs are constantly evolving but that doesn't mean you can't make it into a new career even without knowing much about your upcoming daily operations. Here's how you can get a fantastic job in a career type you've never tested before even at 40 and beyond.
What To Consider When Switching Careers at 40
There are two things to consider when switching careers at 40+: 1) To make your age an advantage, and; 2) To only include what truly matters in your resume.
Make Your Age an Advantage—Not a Drawback
Making your age an advantage means using it as a point of leverage for what the past has taught you that will ultimately make you a better employee.
These are thing that all businesses have to go through:
- You understand how communication between departments works, and you are independent in searching for answers to specific issues;
- The mindset you've acquired is that of processes and people skills more than diehard technical prowess with no documentation to back it up;
- Your commitment in the past has shown that you know how to work around a deadline and that hitting it is what matters most, and;
- Working within a different field, you've acquired a breadth of knowledge that will help with filling the gaps in whatever career path you choose.
You need to be confident and decisive when you talk about how your age plays into the value you're giving out to your employer. Truthfully, you shouldn't talk about your age at all in your resume but let what you write speak for itself.
Only Include What Matters in Your Resume or CV
If you have decades of experience working in a specific industry, or you're a skilled worker who's switched professions in the past, you should keep your resume relevant to the job you're applying for. (i.e. don't include your whole work history!)
The reason why is that recruiters will spend 2-3 minutes on your CV before moving on to another, so you have to make an impression then and there.
It might not sound fair when you spend days drafting it, but it's your best bet of landing a great job that isn't in the "same-old" industry.
From top to bottom:
- Include your main strengths in 6-9 bullet points right below a strong description of what value you can bring to the company (make it about what you can achieve in the specific role and not what you've done!).
- Continue with your most relevant work experience compared to the role. It doesn't matter if it's from 5 years ago as long as you've gained knowledge from it and can apply that knowledge to your new career path.
- List another work experience that's related, and briefly move on to your education. Again, if your field of study doesn't match the role, you don't have to include it, even if the listing asks for it. Just know that some resume applications may filter you out because of it.
- Towards the bottom, add any additional practical skills that are pertinent to the role. Things like software proficiency, manual skills, soft skills, and things that aren't included as main bullet points at the top of your CV.
While a person in their early 20s may be "pardoned" for being slightly vague in some areas of their resume due to lack of experience, a 40-something should be decisive and clear in what they can bring to the table. Get to the point!
7 Best Jobs To Switch Careers at 40
There are some jobs which are better than others for switching careers later in life, and these aren't necessarily your typical "corporate" jobs. Here are 7 we love:
Best Job #1: Online Marketer (Content, Advertising, SEO, …)
Online marketers aren't just "solo gurus" roaming the internet on their own, trying to make a name for themselves. A lot of companies are hiring marketers internally to ensure that their sales pipeline is always full of new leads.
Your job as an online marketer, depending on the specific field, will be to drive attention back to a specific offering with a structured approach. This involves both creative as well as managerial skills, mixing the best of both worlds.
We're putting this as the first option because the trend of firms investing more and more in online marketing is going strong, and there's lots of money being poured into digital marketing initiatives ($50k+ per month for enterprises).
If you're the creative type but want to have experience with growing a company and crave control over certain processes in the backend, becoming a digital marketer is certainly one of the best ways to achieve that.
Best Job #2: Web Developer (ex: MongoDB, Node.js, React)
The web development landscape is always changing, and with the amount of education necessary to keep up, the salaries are huge.
One problem that we often hear with web development is that it's "hard" or that it requires so many skills to get your foot in the door it's just not worth it.
It's true that there are many elements to getting started in web development but it's not necessarily true that it's "hard" as a career path.
Depending on the company you choose to apply to, your interview may be a bit harder.
But the day-to-day work of a web developer isn't nearly as taxing.
A lot of it is ensuring that everything runs smoothly.
When it does come to building new stuff, you have to think of web development as a way to solve problems with certain tools specific to the company—not as a wall of code sitting between you and making upwards of $100k/year.
In programming, problem-solving is what matters most, and it's the most rewarding part of the job too! It challenges your brain in clever ways and keeps you hooked until you get that a-ha moment. From there onwards, it's just a matter of leveraging the tools at your disposal.
Best Job #3: Account Manager (Task Management & Support)
Service companies are growing really fast due to a shift from consumerist behavior to a "creator" mentality that requires providing a lot of support to certain types of digital professionals. That's where an account manager comes in.
When you offer services, buyers expect support to go along with them.
As an account manager, your role will be to carry out certain tasks:
- Moving their campaign forward depending on the specific product or service they've purchased (website hosting, marketing package, etc.)
- Providing support when a customer has a specific question, and communicating rapidly when they are worried about changes.
- Handling backend tasks such as entering information related to a customer into a CRM suite or working with spreadsheets.
- Doing some small creative work on behalf of the customer like updating a page with certain information, imagery, or copywriting.
Managing accounts is a rewarding job that can be done by people at any age, and it's also a well-paid endeavor, usually starting at around $40k/year. If you like communicating with customers and quick action, it's the ideal career switch!
Best Job #4: Operations Manager (Policies & Procedures)
While the role itself is traditionally part of companies that need to manage inventory or have some supply chain elements to their business model, it's also shifting to handling internal business processes with digital technologies.
That's because so much of what companies are doing today is shifting from one technology to another, or integrating one process into another, or developing further steps to a digital process… You get the idea.
This is ongoing work, it never stops being helpful because digital processes never stop needing improvement or optimizations. And that makes becoming an operations manager a fulfilling career choice for those who are process-oriented.
Best Job #5: Sales Representative (Inbound or Outbound)
The "sales rep" is one of the oldest professions still alive to this day, and certainly one of the most important in a business' operations. Without sales reps reaching out to potential customers, how do you generate revenue for the company?
(Quick answer: you don't)
Although sales roles often get a bad reputation due to the amount of work that goes into closing just one deal and commissions that aren't up to par, the key is in finding companies that value the growth of the sales team.
There are plenty of companies out there who mass advertise how their commissions are the "best on the market" whereas in fact they usually amount to a small % of a sale, and then you have to repeat the cycle again and again. HubSpot has written a great article on how companies should motivate sales representatives to not only sell more, but sell better.
Give it a read to understand the type of company you'd want to send your application to.
Best Job #6: Social Media Manager (Audience Building, Communities, …)
Social media has become more than just a way to share things with family and friends; it's a rich environment where businesses thrive and look for opportunities hidden beneath so-called "lurkers:" people who consume but don't engage.
Attracting these "eyes" onto business content on social media shapes someone's thought into trusting the company for the long-term and purchasing their product or service whenever they feel they need it most.
The key to all of this is brand awareness, the act of sharing a brand message in the right places so that a specific type of person is persuaded to consume or buy the company's products and services. It's a real creative challenge!
And it's very in-demand.
Don't take it as:
"Oh, but it's just creating a bunch of memes on Twitter."
Building an audience for business purposes is extremely rewarding and will be useful in many other aspects of your digital career.
Best Job #7: Recruiter or Hiring Manager (Job Listings, Timesheets, …)
This last job is actually two potential jobs: either as a recruiter or a hiring manager.
The former involves the daily operations of actually creating job listings and managing incoming applications whereas the latter is more about managing the entire recruitment process and handling hiring decisions and timesheets.
There's a lot to both roles, so here's the TL;DR on them:
- Recruiter: This is a great career path for people over 40 as they'll already have experienced most of the things truly necessary in a company, and how the skill set of potential candidates impacts those processes.
- Hiring Manager: This role is great if you like to manage people directly instead. As the hiring manager, you'll be one step above recruiters and manage the results that they achieve by ensuring quality hires.
We've placed these two roles last in the list because they're certainly not "easy" to land but they may suit your needs with the amount of experience you have.
Find Great Career Opportunities Even in Your 40s
Finding a great job to switch careers when you're over 40 is not impossible.
But the process of landing one can be lengthy and frustrating: companies not replying, countless spreadsheets to sort through, jobs that seem like a right fit but end up nowhere…
To find a job that fits your skill set faster while helping you change careers, a job search automation tool like LoopCV is your best bet.
It's an easy-to-use platform that allows you to search for job listings that include a specific keyword (like Java, for example) and automatically apply to those that pass certain criteria.
So you can sleep easy at night and receive a reply within just a few days.
The great thing about it?
You don't have to go for one job only anymore; with so many applications being sent out at once (all personalized!), you're much more likely to receive dozens of replies, making it easier for you to choose which job offer fits you best.