Career change at 30, 40, and 50 — how to smoothly transition

Learn how to write a resume when you are changing careers. September 18, 2023 · 10 min read

Finding a new career anytime after your 30s can be tough to deal with.

How do you even start a new career when you’re in your 40s or even 50s?

Do you even know what interesting careers are out there now? Does it scare you to think how is technology changing careers?

Then there’s the big question — what to do when you don't know what to do?

Taking the plunge into a midlife career change takes a great leap of faith, and it’s one you need to really psych yourself up for.

Never fear, we’re here to support you!

With that, let’s dive into:

  • How you’ll know you need a new career
  • Key things to consider when changing jobs
  • Hacks to make a career change at 30, 40, 50
  • Which resumé is considered most useful for changing or starting careers

Here we go…

5 warning signs you need a career transition

What are the things you’ll notice when a new career beckons?

We’ve put together a handy checklist.

If you’re unsure about changing gear and changing industry, there are things to look for that’ll tell you to begin looking for career change ideas.

Infographic: why do workers change careers?This infographic is based on the data from the Indeed survey. They surveyed 662 full-time U.S. workers from a variety of industries and educational levels.

1. You don’t recognize who you are anymore

Is your job sapping your time and energy, just keeping you from doing the things you truly love and care about? Are you not even sure what your non-work passions are anymore?

Lots of people find that their role has changed beyond recognition, no longer dynamic and creative, and that’s when you know it’s time to change careers.

2. You’re bored and lack energy

Get home tired every day? No concentration once you step through the door?

When dragging yourself to the office each morning is the biggest task you can face and there’s nothing left in the tank for being productive, it’s time to look at changing things up on the work front.

3. You’re filled with apathy

Long days filled with meetings you can barely stay awake for, let alone engaged? Contributions dropped off and there’s not even false enthusiasm left?

A day where you’re not feeling yourself sometimes is fine, but when that feeling is constant and overriding, you need to take a step back. When the autopilot is engaged the majority of the time and you’re dreaming of "anywhere but here", change needs to happen.

4. You’re dreaming of new jobs

When did you last scroll through open jobs in your area?

Days of daydreaming and planning your escape, with emails filled with saved jobs and lists of potential qualifications you could take, are all signs that you need to find a new career that engages you again.

5. You’d leave if given half a chance

How many times have you planned your escape? One more tax return, one more bonus payout…

If you could walk out of the office tomorrow and still be able to make rent and pay your bills, would you?

A "yes" means you’re more than ready to make a career shift.

I’m sure I want to change my career, where do I start?

Are you ready for starting over at 40 in a new office? Do you feel like it’s time to change careers at 35?

Here are some helpful hints on what you need to do next.

Infographic: things to consider when changing jobsCareer transition can be challenging, but the result is worth it.

Release your fears

Secure finances, a future you can watch spread to the horizon, and a wall full of framed certificates can feel like a big thing to walk away from.

Every day thinking about "How can I change careers?" means you need to let go of your fears and make a change. Fears like:

  • Not being able to meet all your bills and financial obligations
  • Being a failure
  • How others will perceive your risk-taking

Are all self-limiting beliefs? You can overcome your financial concerns by looking to others who have already taken the plunge for advice and guidance.

Know who you can turn to during the transition period

This means you need to prepare those around you for your big career change, too.

Everyone who will be affected should be involved in the conversation, like your kids, partner, and roommates; then no one will feel left out or feel taken advantage of when you’re going through change.

The best midlife career changes don’t happen in a vacuum — you need a team around you.

Research and learn, a lot

The last step in the planning phase is to get all the information you can so you’re ready for your career switch. Do things like:

  • Do a test run in your new career with a part-time, freelance, or volunteer role.
  • Be sure you’re moving into something you care about before going all-in.
  • Figure out your transferable skills — ones that will work across most workplaces.
  • Work on refreshing your resume.
  • Be confident in your new job applications.

Looking to do a career change at 60? With all that courage, you just have to plan and it’ll go like a dream.

The big thing you need to do is figure out how to write a resume when changing careers.

That’s what we’re here for.

Tips on how to tailor your resume when changing careers

Now it’s time to make over your resume and let your new employers know what you’ve got to offer.

What to write on a resume when changing careers?

First job: choose the right resume format and pick out the experience that directly applies to the job you want to move across to.

With absolute zero experience that’s relevant, think back to internships or volunteer roles that could apply.

You’ll need a professional summary when changing careers, or a resume objective if you’re starting work for the first time. That'll help you tell the story of your career change with aplomb.

Be sure to list all the transferable skills you’ve developed over the years, and add certifications that could be seen as useful for the new role.

Some examples of transferable skills are:

  • Knowledge of technological tools that can be used throughout industries: teamwork software apps, Microsoft Office Suite, CRM systems, etc;
  • Interpersonal skills, such as team management or supervision, communication, and leadership skills, knowledge of sales techniques, etc
  • Ability to face challenging situations, adaptability, and stress resistance.
Tackle your resume in a hot minute with our online resume templates. Put together a stunning resume when changing careers, with a range of pre-designed templates to choose from.

How to write a resume objective when changing careers?

If you’re about to change jobs with no experience, start your resume with an objective.

This is a quick paragraph that goes right at the top and tells the recruiter about your passions and motivation for making a career change. You also get to highlight the skills you’ve got that make you stand out and your major achievements to date.

This is the type of thing to aim for:

Working as a sales representative has sparked my interest in the border picture and driven a desire to apply for the role of marketing specialist. I’ve earned a Google Analytics certificate and attended Sale in Focus and Understanding the Sales Funnel webinars. Increased closed sales year-on-year by 5% and won an award for Best Salesperson in my cluster. Keen to apply my knowledge of end-users to the marketing profession.

The passion and motivation for the new job jump off the page and uses experience to show that they can bring skills and insight across.

Tips for resume when changing careersHow to tailor resume when changing careers?

How to write a resume summary when changing careers?

For a resume summary, you need to cover your experience that matches up to the new role, include facts and figures, and be clear about why you want a new role.

Want an example of a resume summary when changing careers? Here’s one:

A customer service agent with 7 years of experience wanting to shift into digital marketing. Given my strong experience working with people, I want to apply this knowledge to bring stronger online awareness to your business. I have a record of overachieving service KPIs, with 97% customer satisfaction for the last three years and a customer retention of 95%. Took training courses on Google PPC, search engine marketing, and Google Analytics. Looking to harness this learning within your marketing department.

What do you reckon?

This shows that past achievements can translate to a new role effectively.

How to write a cover letter when changing careers?

A cover letter when changing careers can really make or break your applications.

You need to cover your proudest achievements and include your future goals — show that you’re a great candidate with statistics and evidence.

An example looks something like this:

With seven years in customer service, I’m now excited to apply to Big Ticket Marketing as a marketing specialist. I’m passionate about giving customers the best experience possible and have done so in a customer-facing role for a long time. I have a strong track record of customer retention, understanding their pain points and resolving them, leading to a retention rate of 95%.

I’m keen to take this experience and translate my customer understanding into planning and executing paid social and search ads. My customer service score has been 97% for the last three years, showing a strong affinity for understanding customer needs.

To advance my career, I’m ready to take a step back in the sales funnel and generate leads and awareness for your business using the digital marketing skills I’ve studied for the last 9 months. My insight and perspective will be invaluable at Big Ticket Marketing.

We’ve got examples, we can see numbers, and there are links between past experience and the job that they want.

Bonus tip: A list of awesome career change courses

It’s worth considering taking online courses if:

  • you’re looking for jobs where you work by yourself
  • or if you want to search for career change jobs with no experience

We’ve gathered together some free resources that should help you move toward your new career path:

  • FutureLearn has lots of courses, packed with new skills so you can further your interests or land a new career. The packages are short and you should find skills to help with jobs for 50-year-olds with no experience.
  • Udemy is packed with short courses that can assist you when you want to change healthcare jobs, plus you’ll find motivational classes to answer: "Which are examples of a person changing careers?"
  • Coursera is another learning platform with skills for high-paying jobs and ideas to get jobs for people who like to read and looking for career change. Educate yourself about making strong career decisions and building a professional identity.
As well as online education, find people doing the job you’re interested in. Talk about their career, what they do each day, their work/life balance, and how difficult and rewarding the work is, and assess whether their answers match up with your expectations.

Finally — when you put in some groundwork, a career change isn’t as daunting as it first may seem.

Put a plan to change your career on paper and set yourself manageable goals and timeframes for each step you need to take.

Check-in on yourself and hold yourself accountable but don’t pile on the stress and make your situation worse!

The workplace is filled with people who’ve done a lateral shift in their careers and gone on to be huge successes, and you can, too.

Look at Vera Wang — a former figure skater, journalist, and dancer who became one of the most important fashion designers in the 21st century when she was 40.

Julia Child was in advertising and media right up until she turned 50 and published her first of many cookbooks.

Consider Brad Pitt — he started life as a limo driver, so if he can get to where he is then the sky’s the limit!

Good luck!

You can put into practice what you just learned by creating your resume in our resume builder!
SweetCV team
Article by:
SweetCV team
Support Ukraine Now