Career changes are stressful, exciting, and downright emotional at any age, but there’s something about making them at the big 3-0 that can feel particularly conflicting. After all, society tells us that we’re supposed to have it all figured out by our thirtieth birthday, so the idea that you may have gotten your career wrong can be an unpleasant reality. On the other hand, the prospect of potentially exploring a new job that feeds your soul can be invigorating. After fumbling through your 20s and getting the hang of adulting, it’s natural to wonder whether it’s even possible to change careers at 30 and if these emotions are worth exploring and starting all over again over.
Can You Change Careers at 30?
Yes, you can absolutely make a career change at 30. In fact, it’s arguably the best time to make a career switch because you typically have fewer responsibilities than you would at 40 or 50. Naturally, this can make it easier to invest in yourself, start a new career, and become successful as you spend the next 30+ years making money from something you’re passionate about before retiring.
Switching Careers at 30 Can Lead To the Best Years of Your Life
Life is too short to be anything but happy, and if you’re going to work for a living, it might as well be doing something that brings you satisfaction. At age 30, you know yourself better and what your priorities are, how you work, and what you want out of life. This mental clarity can help you find a new career path that aligns with your goals, values, and what lights your soul on fire. For example, if you value your downtime, you’ll know to look for a position that prioritizes work-life balance when it comes time to find a job.
Additionally, at 30, you have around 10 years of work experience under your belt, and employers won’t discount your relevant experience or skills you’ve spent the past decade cultivating and honing. There’s also a strong chance you won’t have to start your new job at an entry-level position; there has to be at least one transferable skill in your repertoire (though you likely have a very long list). Likewise, the professional network you spent your 20s building can also help make the switch easier, and will come in handy should you ever need references for future employers.
Questions To Ask Yourself If You’re Looking For A Career Change At 30 Years Old?
Career changes are a big deal, so it’s important to take some time to evaluate and discover the true reason behind your desire for change. Doing this will help give you the confidence you need to make the leap and move forward.
- Am I good at what I do?
- Do I enjoy what I do?
- Is my work environment toxic?
- What is it about my current career that isn’t working?
- Am I feeling adequately challenged in my current role?
- What am I passionate about?
- What do I see myself doing for the rest of my life?
- Am I willing to take a pay cut and work my way up at a new job?
- What kind of job do I already have the skills for?
- What are my life goals?
- How will changing careers impact my finances?
- Would I stay if something in my current role changed?
- What can I gain by quitting?
- What do I lose by quitting?
- Am I following passion or money?
- Are my expectations realistic?
- What do I want my life to look like in 5 years?
How To Change Your Career at 30
1. Examine your current career
On The Everygirl’s podcast episode about changing careers, our Branded Content Editor, Ashley, shared how she made the transition from full-time nursing to a career in media and content creation, and suggested first checking in with yourself about your current career before making a change. This honest self-assessment will help you determine what’s missing from your current role and get clear on what kind of job you want to pursue.
Think about what led you to your current field and position. Was it driven by passion? Did you choose it because it was deemed a “safe choice” by the adults in your life? Consider any interests that led you to this job, and which aspects you like and don’t like about it. Be sure to write this all down on a list or plug it into a pros and cons template to keep track of everything.
2. Take inventory of your skills and passions
It’s also a good idea to make a list of all your skills and passions. Once you’ve done that, go through that list and contemplate which career path you might want to explore and which of your skills are transferable (think: communication, flexibility, time management, etc.). Chances are, a lot of them will be helpful for your next career. Getting clear on your exact skill set, what you’re good at, and what lights a spark in you will make finding the right career easier.
3. Determine your new career path
Use your notes from the first two steps as a reference and begin thinking about a new career path. Assess your strengths and weaknesses, personal interests, and what you want long-term out of your next full-time job. This might include better benefits, a solid retirement plan, flexibility, the ability to quickly scale the career ladder, and so on. With this information, you can then determine which career path you’d like to explore.
4. Find your new career
There are numerous jobs in every industry, so it’s important to do your research and look at basic job descriptions, average salaries and requirements, and typical paths for every occupation in your chosen field. This will help you decide exactly which job to pursue, get clear on the relevant experience and transferable skills you already have for that job, and what you need to obtain in order to be fully qualified. Also, make sure to research companies you might want to work for, and if you’re looking to branch out and do your own thing, be sure to conduct extensive research on the best ways to do so successfully and everything you need to get started.
5. Refresh your resume
Having an up-to-date resume is never a bad thing. After all, you never know when potential employers or other professionals might seek you out. So regardless of your experience or whether you have all the skills needed for your dream job, refresh your resume to include all relevant skills and experience you currently do have. Then, share it on platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, FlexJobs, a personal website or portfolio, or link in your social media bio.
6. Gain relevant experience and obtain new skills
Consider what skills you need for your dream job, and look into various ways to get it. This can include things like going back to school part-time and working towards a new degree or enrolling in skill training courses, reading self-help or educational books, and studying people you look up to in your dream job. In addition, freelancing, volunteer work, internships, and job shadowing are also great for this and can help you build your professional network in your new career.
Likewise, honing your skills in your free time is also invaluable. If you’re interested in writing, start a personal blog; if you want to become a graphic designer, download Canva and experiment. The list goes on and on, and the options are truly endless—we live in a world where gaining experience and skills is easier than ever, so be sure to take full advantage of it.
7. Prepare your finances
Career changes can be tough financially, so if you’re getting ready to make the switch, now’s the time to prepare. Look at your income, living expenses, debt payments, and what you’re putting into savings every month; see if there are any ways you can adjust your budget and contribute more to your emergency fund or areas you can cut back in to decrease the total amount you’re spending per month. You may have to change your lifestyle for the time being, but having a substantial financial cushion will make it easier to transition into a new role and adjust to any changes in your income.
8. Put yourself out there
Putting yourself out there can be scary, especially if you’ve been at your current job for a while, but doing so will give you the confidence to apply for new jobs, accept new opportunities, and step into the woman you want to become. Market yourself on social media and reach out to friends, family members, and your professional contacts in the industry you’re looking to join; let them know what your career plans are, and ask that they kindly keep you in the back of their mind for potential opportunities. Making career moves quietly can be empowering, but marketing yourself will put more eyes on you and potentially help you land your dream job faster.
Don’t be afraid to apply for new jobs—not getting the job is the worst that can come from it. At the very least, you’ll get in touch with and put in front of the right people, and have a chance to make an impression that can help you later on after you’ve built up the necessary skills and gained relevant experience.
9. Don’t burn a bridge
Lastly, don’t burn a bridge in your current role with your current employer. Keep going strong at work until you land your dream job, and once you do, be sure to tell your manager right away and give at least two weeks’ notice. Thank them for everything they’ve done for you and express your gratitude for what the job taught you; send an email to your colleagues telling them this as well. Likewise, be sure to offer to train your replacement, and go through and organize your work files before your departure.
Career changes don’t happen overnight, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Take advantage of the fact that they take time by starting out slow. Dedicate yourself fully to pursuing what you’re passionate about and give it your all. In no time, you’ll be exactly where you want to be in your career.