Flexibility: The key to changing your career at 40

changing career at 40Changing your career at 40 can be perfectly manageable – as I’ve demonstrated for Changing careers at 30 and 50 year olds changing career in previous posts.

At 40 years old an individual is still young enough to cope with the physical demands of a new job, but old enough to have collected valuable experience.

But, whether you’re considering a career change at this age through choice or necessity, it can present a few of it’s own particular issues which I’ll cover in this post.

Is it too late to consider changing your career at 40?

It’s never too late to change your career – it does depend on what you’re going to go into though.

So, for example, some professions do have an age limit or they may have reservations about taking people who aren’t physically fit which would be more of a concern than the age thing.

The Police, for example, will need people who are physically fit – if you struggle to climb a set of stairs without getting out of puff then that would probably exclude you.

Some organisations find it harder to recruit people 40 and over because of the nature of their industry (Industries relying heavily on internship, like the media) – they may have issues with taking on a 40 year old trainee (not fair but that’s the way it seems to be).

For some careers though it’s a positive advantage to start at 40!

Social work would be a good example of this, where being older is good because of your vast reservoir of life experience.

What is the main concern employers have about this age group?

The main concern that employers have with anyone over the age of 40 is that they are not going to be able to cope with change and new ways of doing things.

The new job may also require you to go down in position – a 40 plus year old might have been a Manager in their previous profession, but be relegated to a more junior position with the additional issue of having someone younger than them telling them what to do.

How can those concerns be addressed or overcome?

This comes down to whether the potential employer thinks you can be flexible – it’s really important to demonstrate to employers that you are adaptable and will work well as part of a team, and you’re ready to learn.

On your application you should make it obvious you have experience and skills and your age is not a problem.

Discrimination laws mean that employers aren’t allowed to ask your age when applying for a job, although this will be suggested by your experience and education (and it will be obvious if you reach interview).

Never put your age on a CV unless it is specifically asked for by the employer.

I would advise never to put your date of birth on an application (when asked for) as, if the employer were to reject your application – even on legitimate grounds – they could be open to prosecution because of discrimination laws.  They may not thank you for putting them in this position.

This also goes for supporting statements – don’t dwell on your age or how “because of my years of experience” you should be in charge – this may well suggest to them that you’re not going to be flexible.

It’s all about taking away the barriers to you joining their team – demonstrating you have the right attitude.

3 steps any 40 year old changing career should carry out

  1. Talk to people in the new area of work you’re planning on going into
    Look carefully at employers and the types of people they are taking on – are they very youth orientated?
  2. Don’t make your own barriers
    Don’t pre-judge employers thinking “Oh, there’s no point – I’m too old!”
  3. Come across as flexible
    If you behave as though your age is not an issue to you why should it be to them?

Have you got any tips or experience of Changing Careers?

Have you changed career recently? And if so was there anything that helped you which I haven’t included above?

If there is get in touch and let me know – I’m always looking for new ways to help people get the career they want!

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