A career change at 30 can seem daunting, especially given the time, energy and money you’ve invested in your career so far. But don’t let that discourage you! Here’s the key information you need to consider to get started.
This post is about the essential questions to ask when undergoing a career change at 30.
Are you considering a career change in your 30s? If so, then you’re not alone. According to a Job Mobility report by McCrindle, it’s common for Australians to have at least 5 distinct careers in their lifetimes.
A career change at 30 is especially common. It’s likely by this point you’ve been in the same career for at least 5-7 years, studied and worked hard for a promotion or two. Perhaps you’ve bought a home and started a family?
With all these lifestyle changes, sometimes our current career can seem like it’s not serving us well anymore or isn’t a good fit with our new commitments.
Or maybe you’re just bored and feel like your career isn’t going anywhere?
A career change at 30 can seem daunting as it’s likely you’ve invested a significant amount of time, energy and money in your education and career so far.
If you do choose to change careers, this investment is not wasted! While you may not use the technical skills you’ve learned and refined over a number of years, you’ve also gained many fantastic transferable skills you can use in your new career.
Also consider the networks you’ve built, the technology you’ve experienced and the other capabilities you’ve developed!
Don’t put off making a career change for any longer. Nothing changes if nothing changes!
What is a career change or career pivot?
A career change or career pivot is simply switching your current occupation to another one.
Career changes or career pivots are usually volunteered moves however sometimes they might be prompted by an involuntary change in employment such as a redundancy.
Should I make a career change at 30?
People change careers for so many reasons. If you’re experiencing any of these, it might be time for you to consider a career change:
- your job is negatively affecting your self-esteem or health
- you’re feeling bored or undervalued
- you’re being bullied, harassed or mistreated in some way
- you’re only in it for the money or other remuneration factors
- you’re feeling stuck, like your career is going nowhere
- your values don’t align with your job or the organisation’s culture
All these points above will negatively affect your job satisfaction, motivation and maybe even your happiness. Time won’t resolve this (trust me, I’ve been there, tried that!).
Why am I looking to undergo a career change?
Before you make any big decisions, it’s really important to consider if you’re dissatisfied with your current employment situation as opposed to your career.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking you dislike your job or career when there could be an underlying issue troubling you.
Here’s a few ideas regarding changes you could make to your employment situation, rather than your career:
- Internal transfer – you still enjoy your job and the organisation you work for, but it’s time to change teams and managers.
- Workplace – you still enjoy your career but your workplace is no longer a good fit for you and it’s time to work with a different organisation.
- Industry – you still enjoy your career but you don’t enjoy the industry you work in. Is there an equivalent role in a different industry? e.g. instead of family law, try environmental law.
- Environment – you still enjoy your career, but you don’t enjoy how you are working. Is there an equivalent role in a different environment? e.g. instead of nursing in a hospital, try telehealth.
- Relocate – sometimes a change is just as good as a holiday! Perhaps you still love your career, but need a change of scenery?
How do I start a career pivot?
Sometimes change pivots can seem overwhelming with so many factors to consider.
Start by identifying the capabilities you currently have, especially your transferable skills. This will help you determine other careers you are suited to.
The best way to do this is to conduct an audit or stocktake of your capabilities.
Here’s a list of the most common and highly valued transferable skills. If you’ve been in the workforce for at least 5 years, it’s likely you would’ve developed many of these:
- problem-solving skills
- digital literacy
- presentation skills
- critical thinking
- organisation skills
- time management
- detail orientated
- written communication
- verbal communication
- analytical skills
- relationship management
- ability to work under pressure/to deadlines
- customer service
- professional attitude
Should I do a career quiz?
If you’re really stuck for ideas about a new career path, undertaking a vocational assessment (career quiz) is an option, however I don’t usually recommend it. This is because the reliability and validity of many career quizzes is questionable (particularly the free ones).
If this is something you are really keen to try, you may wish to investigate the Self-directed Search to see if it’s right for you. Although I don’t use this vocational assessment as part of my practice and I’m not affiliated with the company, I’ve recommended the Self-directed Search as it’s affordable, accessible to individuals and doesn’t need a career practitioner to interpret.
If you chose to undertake any vocational assessment, take the results with a grain of salt and be guided by your own career interests, values, skills and traits.
Will I be able to get a job when I undergo a career change?
If you have an idea or two about the new career you would like to pivot to, it’s important you understand where the demand is for your new occupation.
I see so many people make huge career decisions (like studying a degree) without doing any research to understand where (or if!) they may be able to get a job.
Your career change won’t be very effective if you’re unable to find a job in your newly chosen field! I strongly recommend that you don’t commit to a new career path until you’ve done some labour market research.
If you’re based in Australia, I highly recommend two websites for undertaking labour market research before you make a career change: Job Outlook and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. Having said this, there are many more resources if you want to do a deep dive!
This information will provide you with a good indication as to the current prospects and future demand for your new career.
How will a career change at 30 affect my lifestyle?
Making a career change in your 30s comes with the added complication of ensuring you can meet your existing obligations and commitments.
Perhaps you have a car or home loan you must meet or a family to support? Your career change is still possible, it just means careful planning is needed 😊
Consider factors such as the minimum monthly income you need and how much money you have in reserves to transition jobs, how much time you have to upskill and other lifestyle factors that are important to you.
Remember, why you’re making the career change – ensure you’re not going from one undesirable situation to another just because you are impatient to leave your current job!
Also consider what changes you are willing to make to enact your career change! Are there any expenses you can cut back on? Are you able to move in with your parents while you look for new job in a different location? Can another family member work more hours to support you while you study? Are you willing to give up watching Netflix at night to do a short course?
Do I need to upskill or reskill?
Now that you understand what capabilities are required for your career change and where any gaps may be, now is the time to consider how you’ll address them.
Let’s be clear – you do not necessarily need to go back to university to make your career change happen!
If there’s no industry requirement to have a tertiary degree, consider what professional development activities you can do to upskill or reskill.
Upskilling can be done through your organisation’s learning and development programs or externally by undertaking formal qualifications, micro-credentials, MOOCs, reading books and industry journals, webinars and the like.
If you do choose to invest in a university degree, consider the minimum qualification you need to undertake the role and the average qualification of other workers in the role. Consider completing the minimum qualification first (such as a Graduate Certificate), then gain some work experience before committing to a Master degree.
Consider which transferable skills you need to enhance as well as technical (job-specific) skills.
Should I network to help with my career change?
Yes, absolutely! Professional networks can be a great asset to a career if built and nurtured appropriately.
There are so many benefits to professional networking when making a career change. Just some opportunities include:
- access to the hidden job market
- mentoring opportunities
- benefit from more experienced practitioners’ wisdom developed over time
- learn new skills, information, techniques, theories, tools or methods related to your industry
- access to a ‘brains trust’ to help you solve problems
Building networks can be daunting. It’s likely your network exists mostly of people in the same field as you. For networks to be optimal when you’re making a career change, you also need to connect with people following the same career path as your new one.
To get started, reach out to people you already know and tell them you are interested in building your professional network. It’s likely they will know someone else who is interested in the same career as you, and may be willing to pass on their details to you.
Another tip is to connect with like-minded people about a particular topic rather than career path.
How can professional associations help with my career change?
Engaging with a professional association relevant to your new career is a fantastic way to develop your expertise.
A professional association is an overarching professional body that defines industry standards to guide practices and improve professionalism. For some careers, membership may be mandatory.
Regardless, professional associations are an excellent way to network with like-minded professionals and to access quality and relevant information, and professional development opportunities.
Professional associations will often advertise job vacancies as well 😉
Even though a career change in your 30s may seem daunting, making a positive change can have a significant impact on your overall health, happiness and wellbeing!
The key to an effective career change is to draw on your existing knowledge and capabilities to demonstrate you have the skills to succeed in your new career, and upskill or reskill where necessary.
With careful planning and meaningful action, you can make a successful career charge at 30 sooner than you think.
This post was about the essential questions to ask when undergoing a career change at 30.
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Hi there, I'm Danielle Ward
Your go-to career development and human resource practitioner, guiding your career towards true north.