When enthusiasm wanes, it’s detrimental for both the employee and the employer. Spending 40 (or more) hours per week, doing something you don’t enjoy, or that no longer serves your current circumstances, takes a toll on your mental well being and more often than not will also start to diminish the value you’re able to bring to your position.
As a career resource for St. Louisans, STL.works knows how important it is that people feel excited about and engaged in their work. If you’re considering a midlife career change, you’re not alone. STL.works is ready to walk you through the process.
First ask yourself this question —
Do you want to change careers or jobs?
No one is immune to falling into a slump at work. There are a multitude of reasons that keep us from leaping into the work day, excited to contribute:
- You have a bad manager
- You’re the bad manager
- You dislike your coworkers
- You’re unhappy with your salary
- You’re unhappy with your progression within the company
- You’re unhappy with your benefits
- You have issues with the company’s culture
While all of these have the potential to send you searching for a career change, it’s important to stop and consider if a company or practice area change would be all you need to stay on your current career path.
If you like what you do — and just not who you’re doing it for — your efforts are best spent finding a new team, department, or company to work for.
An important note about being a bad manager yourself: we’re not trying to insult you. It’s not uncommon when someone does a good job that they’re put in a position of power, the assumption being that they’ll be able to manage others to their same level.
Unfortunately being great at the work does not at all equate to being a great manager. The skill set needed to manage is very different than the skill set needed to be an individual contributor.
You have two options: ask for training or ask for your old job back if it’s a possibility. That may come with a cut in compensation or you may carve a new internal career path. Just make sure you don’t lose the name you made for yourself as a doer by underperforming as a manager.
Ok, moving on …
What are you lacking in your current career?
Again, there are a multitude of reasons why people seek new career paths. It’s important to clearly define what yours are. It will give you the ability to avoid them when evaluating what you want to do next. In no particular order, here are the top reasons why most of us consider a career change:
- Dissatisfied with pay or salary potential
- Lack of healthcare or savings benefits
- No clear growth path for your position
- No opportunity to learn or advance skills
- Seeking a less stressful career
- Seeking a better work-life balance
- Seeking a better alignment between personal values and professional work
You might tick all these boxes, or you may have a completely different set of reasons why you’re seeking a midlife career change. Again, regardless of your reasons it’s just important to diagnose them now so you can avoid going through the same disappointments in the future.
Where can I start?
If you’re reading this you’ve likely already been wanting a new position, job, or considering a career change. There are three important steps you should walk through:
1. Evaluate your finances.
It’s truly a luxury to just be able to quit your job and figure it out later. For the vast majority of us we rely on our current job to pay our bills, for our health care benefits, and more. You need to look at your finances for two reasons: to determine what you want to be making and to determine what the path looks like to get there.
Be practical. If you want to make a career change but the earning potential doesn’t align with the salary you need to support yourself, you’ll need to make some personal adjustments. Is the reduced salary worth it? Make sure you’re not trading one problem for another.
If the career change you want to make will require education and training that can’t be done while working your current position, you’ll need to evaluate your monthly costs and save so you can cover your expenses during your training and transition into a new career.
That may involve reducing the standard of living you currently enjoy, but it’s all in the effort of securing a career in an industry where your financial needs can be met while enjoying what you do.
Do not skip this step. Financial difficulty is one of the top reasons why people abandon their training or education while working towards a career change.
2. Lean on the experience and expertise of others.
You need to talk to people who have made a career change and people who are in the industry you are interested in pursuing. Ask them why they made a career change, how they did it and what they would change if they had to do it over again.
Ask about specialities, practice areas, and local companies you might be interested in working for. You’re letting others know you have interest, giving them an opportunity to help if they can.
Best case scenario, your network will have very specific recommendations on the training you need to complete, the knowledge or skills you’ll need to have on day one, and resume and interview tips.
3. Educate yourself on the skills and experience you lack.
While tapping your network will give you a baseline expectation for what you need to know, you’ll still need to do your due diligence in assessing what further level of training or education is needed to make a career change.
Sometimes a career change looks enticing but doesn’t truly align with our abilities or interests.
Are you building on skills you already have?
Are you interested in learning these new skills, or do you see them as a barrier to your potential new career?
Are their local or online programs available to you to learn these skills and what are the associated costs?
Will you be able to complete the courses while working your current job?
Are there companies offering training on the job or tuition reimbursement?
Dependent on your circumstances there are likely more questions you’ll need to ask and answer. How will the time needed to learn these new skills affect your current schedule? Any childcare concerns? Will you need the support of your friends or family to make sure you have the time needed to learn?
Don’t let any of these questions scare you or throw you off your path. This is about preparing so you can remove as many obstacles as possible while working towards your career change.
What is a good midlife career change?
When we’re children, there is no limit to what we imagine and want to be when we grow up. We name our ideal positions, our heroes, and we assume those paths are available to us.
As adults it’s important that we maintain the youthful belief of no limits — we just need to pair that with reality. If you’re seeking a midlife career change in St. Louis, understanding the market opportunity across industries is important to choosing a path that has potential.
Easy career changes that pay well are not as elusive as you might think. As a resource for St. Louis job seekers, STL.works knows the following industries are booming. They offer innovative paths towards skill and knowledge building, making them a more attractive option for those who want to change careers without reentering a traditional education pathway.
Let’s consider some of the options:
Trade jobs are in high demand in the St. Louis area and nationwide. Careers in HVAC, as a plumber or pipefitter, carpenter, welder, electrician, and a heavy machinery or automotive mechanic have an average salary potential of $80,000 per year.
If you’re hard-working and self-motivated you can train up into a trade in a matter of months. Learn more about career opportunities within the trades and how you can get started.
Technology is a critical component for all businesses. If you like the idea of keeping your career options open, technology is your golden ticket.
Careers in web development, system architecture and analysis, cybersecurity analysis, technical support, and app development are available across companies, industries, and locations.
Along with accelerated programs and coding workshops, many companies will hire and train new employees into technology positions. Getting paid to learn will likely seem foreign to those of us still paying off student loans, but the technology sector is hungry for new talent so now is an opportune time to get started.
Learn more about career opportunities within the technology field and what you need to get hired.
Modern manufacturing jobs encompass both the trades and technology and offer incredibly satisfying work for people who prefer to work with their hands and enjoy being able to physically see what they’ve helped to build through their efforts.
A career in manufacturing can be particularly rewarding for those who are lifelong learners as it provides multiple opportunities for cross training and critical thinking.
Careers as a machinist, quality control inspector, CNC programmer, and precision machine engineer are available for those who are willing to invest in technical training through a certification program, training course, or associate’s degree.
Learn more about manufacturing career opportunities and how your interests align with jobs in this field.
If you want to work in an industry where you’re making a difference, it’s hard to beat healthcare.
If a career as a radiology technologist, medical lab technician, pharmacy technician, physical therapy assistant, medical assistant, certified nursing assistant, or registered nurse interests you there are multiple pathways to gain the skills and experience needed to enter the field of healthcare.
Learn about your options and opportunities within the St. Louis healthcare community.
Some final tips for your career change journey…
Work professionalism is networking currency and you want to maintain what you’ve built. Even if you’re miserable in your current position you should work to leave on good terms when the time comes.
Give adequate notice.
This is dependent on your position and responsibilities in the company you currently work for but in all cases, be sure to give at least two weeks’ notice so your current employer has time to prepare and potentially hire your replacement.
If your job is particularly involved and requires specialized training, consider giving your notice earlier so you can assist your company in training up an internal peer or in interviewing and training an external replacement.
Be honest and polite about why you’re leaving. If it’s an internal issue, you’re giving the company an opportunity to make changes that could benefit the coworkers you’re leaving behind or the person who replaces you.
Don’t burn the bridge.
If you’re leaving because you’re switching careers entirely you might be surprised by the networking connections your manager or peers have that could help you in your new career. St. Louis is a small town: you never know who someone knows. When you leave on good terms, you’re maintaining your network and increasing the potential for references, introductions, and ultimately — opportunities.
If you’re unhappy in your current position, company, or career, STL.works can help you to take the first step forward. Use our resources to research employment potential near you or to jumpstart your job search. Not sure where to begin? Take our career quiz to see how your interests and the top industries in St. Louis align.