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Making Career Change Over 50

Nov 2, 2007
It's often hard to think about changing careers. It's doubly difficult to take the step to change careers after you have been doing something for what may seem a lifetime. Interestingly, many people are opting for a career change after age 50. There are many things that drive people to look for a new career direction: burnout, a feeling you have been doing something for years that isn't really fulfilling or fun, industry downturns that create an oversupply of candidates in your present career field, a desire for something new and stimulating at which to dedicate yourself for the remainder of your working life. Whatever the motivation, it is a big step and you'll need help doing it.

First, here are some things to think about.

What do you want to do now? Where are your strengths? What abilities can you draw upon to help you create a new career path?

Do you know any headhunters?

How good is your professional network? Will it be helpful in making your career change?

What local resources are available to you? Can you take advantage of career seminars, personal and professional career counseling or career fairs?

You will need to reformat your resume to highlight your experience and/or education and training in the new career area you want to pursue.

"Headhunter" is a common term that refers to professional recruiters who work for job search firms. They typically specialize in certain career fields and/or industries, and may focus on a specific professional level; e.g. executive, manager or director, etc. You can find headhunters in a number of ways, including word of mouth, internet ads, the Yellow Pages, and career change advice resources.

Here are some of the things a headhunter will do for you:

Review your resume and give you advice on presenting it and yourself in the best light for the career field you seek.

Match you to open requisitions they are trying to fill, or contact his/her network of employer clients to present you as a candidate.

Arrange for interviews and travel, if necessary, and follow-up after your interviews with the potential employer.

Negotiate salary and signing bonuses, if appropriate

Follow-up with you after you are hired to make sure everything is working for you.

Your headhunter can literally be your best friend during your career change. Most are successful because of their empathy, their ability to understand the attributes of their candidates and the needs of their employers, and their enjoyment of continuous contact with people on both sides of the job search fence ... in other words, they like to talk and they enjoy interacting with people over the phone. This helps the candidates and employers interact comfortably with them and builds trust.

It is important that you establish a good rapport with your headhunter because you are entering unfamiliar territory in a new career field, and the contacts and industry knowledge you had in your past career may no longer be useful to you, depending on how drastic a change you are making. There are some important steps you can take to make sure you are successful in working with you headhunter. First, be completely honest with your headhunter about why you want to change careers and what you are looking for. The headhunter needs to understand your needs completely in order to create a good match for you within a new career field. Second, be responsive and follow-up in a professional way. This does two things for you: it will move things along quickly and demonstrates for your headhunter your professionalism. Third, quickly report back on contact with companies who interview you to keep the momentum going.

If you're over age 50 and feel something's missing from your career, it's never too late to make a change. While career changes can be challenging, they can lead to a valuable opportunity to build a professional life around the things you enjoy doing.
About the Author
Greg Heslin is a best selling career advice and "street smart" tips author on how to survive in the 21st Century workplace. To learn more about FREE cutting edge career tips and techniques, you can visit his web site at http://www.My-New-Career.com
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