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Tags: career-guidance, Career Guidance, blog

A career change in your thirties is totally possible – but what does it take to turn your dreams into reality?

Many of us choose a career while we pick our A-level subjects in secondary school, head to university and leave with a degree which increases our employability. We then spend our twenties working our way up for extra responsibility, money, or a title change. When it comes to your thirties, your working life may have already spanned 10 years. You’ve earned life experience and figured out what you do and don’t want in a career. Your goals and aspirations may have moved in a different direction, heightened by the events of the year of The Great Resignation’. Whilst all those years spent gaining experience and recognition makes you doubt whether you should pack it all in and start a fresh, you will typically have 30+ years left in your career, and you owe it to yourself to spend it wisely. 

As the job market becomes more versatile and dynamic, the concept of taking on a second career is more pertinent than ever. We spoke to people from a range of industries who've made a career change in their 30s and offer their experience and advice.

HR to Social Work

Lynn, who was previously an HR Assistant Manager within the Chemical industry was 37 when she made the move to Social Work and currently works as a Team Manager. 

Q) Why did you make a career change? 

“I was no longer enjoying what I did and did not feel fulfilled. I realised that I would have to work for the next thirty years so needed to do something that would not only enhance my financial situation but would give me greater job satisfaction.”  

Q) Did you undertake any training? 

“To allow me to get on the course at the time, I had to have some relevant experience. I gave up a well-paid job in HR and worked at a local authority for just over a year to gain the practical experience needed. I then completed a Social Work degree which I funded myself. Becoming a student with two young children meant I was often completing my academic work late at night. Whilst being a mature student was challenging, it better equipped me for the course as I had life experience and transferable skills from employment.”

Q) Are you glad you made a career change? 

“I’m really glad I did it. It allowed me to progress professionally and financially, earning significantly more money and offering me more flexibility. The job is mostly very rewarding, I am able to support children and families and help facilitate positive changes in their lives.”

Pharmaceutical to Recruitment

John previously worked within the pharmaceutical industry and was age 30 when he took a different career path to become a Recruitment Business Partner.

Q)  Why did you make a career change?

“I’d been working in the pharmaceutical/medical device industry for about seven years and had been pretty successful. However, I was doing massive mileage each year c.40K miles and was working in remote locations which were having an impact on my life, often leaving home at 5 am and not getting back until late. I decided to look at something that would be office-based with more time spent closer to home, using the skills I had developed to earn a decent level of salary.”

Q)    Did you undertake any training?  

“I needed lots of training as I had never worked in recruitment before. This included systems training, technical training on the recruitment process (CV writing etc.) and market training. All of this was done internally by the company at the time.”

Q)    Are you glad you made a career change? 

“Yes! I have now been in recruitment for over 18 years. While there was a big shift initially in terms of things like salary, I took a 50% pay cut with the idea I could earn it back in commission, I got to use the skills I’d developed earlier in my career and develop people skills which have benefited me outside of work too. My earnings exceeded my previous career, and in terms of happiness and wellbeing, it definitely improved my work-life balance. I was no longer spending so much time in my car and I was able to achieve more.”

Accounting to Marketing

Sarah previously worked as an Assistant Accountant and was 32 when she took an opportunity to pursue a more creative career as a Marketing Executive.

Q)    Why did you make a career change?

“Although I had decided to pursue a career in accounting and I enjoyed the work, deep down I knew that I was better suited to a creative career. My degree was in English Language, I loved language and enjoyed blogging in my spare time. Even while working in accounting, I was always the go-to person for helping with emails and writing policies and procedures. When a Marketing Content Executive role came up internally, I knew I needed to apply.” 

Q)    Did you undertake any training? 

“I didn’t need any formal qualifications but I already had a degree in English Language and a love of writing. I was freelance for a short time and during that time I completed a course in copywriting with the CIM. I’ve also done a lot of on-the-job training and reading up in my own time, for example on SEO.”

Q)    Are you glad you made a career change? 

“Yes, definitely. Accounting is a solid career but I get more satisfaction working in marketing. I feel like some of the skills I used in my accounting career are also of value in marketing, for instance, being able to spot mistakes and having a good eye for detail.” 

Whatever you decide, it’s about making the right decision for you. Take credit for the transferable skills you have learnt during your twenties and the experiences which lead you to the decision you are at today. Consider the financial impact this will entail and speak to others within the industry or a mentor to use as a sounding board and vote of confidence. Whilst taking on a second career may seem daunting, continuing on a path which no longer serves your purpose is equally as difficult. 

For more practical advice on how to make a career change, read our recent article What to do before you quit your job’.  

At Search Consultancy, we have specialist consultants across twenty sectors, many with industry experience themselves. If you are looking for advice on career pathways or available opportunities, we’d be happy to offer our guidance and support. Contact us today.