Feeling stuck? It’s not too late to try something new.
Is it too late to change careers?
Short answer: It depends.
If you’re thinking of a job that requires considerable youth and stamina (ballerina, baseball player), then yes, the ship has probably sailed on that one. But many careers are open to the — ahem — “mature” worker. In fact, a few years of experience under your belt may lend you advantages that fresh-faced new grads can only dream of.
For one thing, you have more and better connections. Having spent more years on the planet means you know more people and more people know you. This “social capital” is there for you to leverage when entering new fields. Don’t forget that connections include not just business colleagues, but friends, neighbors, family, friends of friends, friends of neighbors and so on.
What’s more, you likely know more about yourself and your abilities than you did when you were 24. You’ve probably failed at a few things. You know what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing. You understand your strengths and weaknesses and your capacity to learn. All this gives you confidence and grit.
Finally, a lot of your skills are transferable. Really. You’ll need to put some work into identifying which ones — talking with people doing the job you’d like to have is a very good start — but you will likely find that there’s some overlap. To be sure, organizing tasks, managing your time, problem-solving and communicating effectively are abilities necessary to every field.
So don’t spend another moment wondering “what if?” You might need to take a temporary pay cut (start building your savings now). You may at times find it humbling to return to an entry-level position. More education or training could be in order, and that takes money and time. But a career spans decades of your life. You want to make the most of it and use the years you do have as wisely as you can. Act now to do the research, make a plan and set a deadline.
P.S.: You might first consider looking for new roles you can play at your existing employer, thus “changing careers” without even needing to change employers. Lots of companies allow, and even encourage, this kind of internal growth. Businesses are much more flexible than they used to be.