How to Change Careers When You're Middle-aged

Setting Yourself up For a Successful Mid-Life Career Change

No matter what your age, it's always good to be up on the latest trends and technologies.
No matter what your age, it's always good to be up on the latest trends and technologies.
George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Thinkstock

OK, so you've decided to take the plunge and make a career change. Not only that, but you also have a pretty good idea what you want to do and how making this transition is going to affect your lifestyle. Good work. Now it's time to make sure you're actually qualified to enter your chosen second career.

But first, make sure you can get in the door.

The so-called "gray ceiling" puts middle-aged workers at a disadvantage because younger professionals will work for less pay, are easier to manage and will cost the company less because they tend to have fewer medical issues. Education, particularly in today's automated, digital workplaces, can be a significant obstacle for older workers. Older workers are seen as being less tech-savvy, and in today's highly automated, ultradigital work environment, this is a big disadvantage. But Lauryn Franzoni, a director at ExecuNet, a firm that specializes in executive-level recruitment, says these stereotypes are a myth and that older workers are just as likely to be technically proficient as their younger counterparts.

So the trick is to demonstrate that your skills have kept pace with changes. Even if the work you're interested in doing doesn't change over time, you still want to show that you're up on the latest trends. This can easily be reflected in an updated resume that demonstrates proficiency in emerging technology and business trends, including social networking and personal computing, in addition to job-specific skills.

To further bolster the potential for middle-aged workers, many colleges and universities offer degree programs designed specifically for this group. Entry into these programs is usually depends on experience and acumen rather than academic or test performance. Once a perspective boss knows you can handle the job, the scales tip considerably in favor of people with years of experience. Mature workers are viewed as loyal, honest and punctual, among a host of other attributes [source: Bastien].

Now that you've landed that dream gig (probably not managing the BoSox, but who cares?), it's time to make sure you hit the ground running.