Existing customers – for more information regarding recent changes to your Income Protection or TPD insurance please click here

Existing customers – for more information regarding recent changes to your Income Protection or TPD insurance please click here

Life Insurance

How to Make a Successful Career Change at 40 and Beyond 

06 Apr 2020

Life Insurance by Life Stage

The choices you make today can impact your long-term health, wealth and happiness. Understand the important role Life Insurance can play in key life events.

Changing careers can feel daunting at any stage in life, but armed with the right tools  and advice, you can set yourself up for success.

The concept of a ‘job for life’ is a thing of the past. According to the University of  Melbourne’s ​HILDA survey​, ​the average Australian will have 17 different employers in their  lifetime and upskill for five distinct careers during their working life​. Some of the most  common reasons people re-skill for a new career are — stress, boredom, redundancy, lack  of flexibility and a desire to make a difference.

If you are feeling restless in your current job and thinking about a career change, you are  not alone. As people get older, their priorities change. Where money or status might have  been the main motivator in your 20s, perhaps you now have a family and require a better  work/life balance, or suddenly find your job is unfulfilling and crave a role with meaning  and purpose.

Embarking on a career change at any age can feel exciting and daunting, especially if you’re  considering changing industries altogether. The fear associated with a big change like this is  worse if you have been in your current role for a long time and have big personal financial  commitments. You might be asking yourself — is it worth the risk?

To help you navigate a successful career change, we have spoken to eight experts in the  field of careers and employment to provide you with the ultimate guide to changing your  career in your 40s and beyond


How hard is it to change careers?  

This really depends on the type of role you hope to transition to. If you wish to enter a field  which requires a formal qualification like a teacher, doctor, or a vet, then you will need to  factor in the time and resources to complete your course and become certified. However, if  you just need to brush up on your existing skills or learn a new micro skill, there are now  thousands of accessible online courses you can take from home in your own time.
Study has also become more flexible. “The overwhelming majority of course providers  deliver at least some of their curriculum online in a part-time study mode. Many providers  specialise in catering to students who may be working full-time or managing family
commitments,” explains ​Good Education Media​, a provider of high-quality education and  career information.
According to ​Transitioning Well​, who ​specialise in navigating life transitions in the workplace​,  there can be challenges to upskilling, particularly as you get older, however, these  challenges might not be what you think. “Challenges for older people are not declining  cognitive ability or motivation, as stereotypes would have us believe. Older people can learn  new skills when they see the relevance and the training is designed using adult learning  principles,” they explain.
It’s also important to manage expectations. “It’s crucial to keep it in mind that a career  transition into a totally new industry might result in a lower-level job, with a lower salary, but  the good news is — it’s a huge advantage to learn the ropes without having the added  pressure of a higher-level job,” says recruitment agency ​people2people​.


15 tips for a successful career change: 

  1. Take time for self-reflection​: “Whether you grab a journal or scour the internet for  tools to guide you — think about your values, strengths, and what you want to  achieve by making this change,” says Transitioning Well.
  2. Be clear on your ‘why’: ​“Invest time to be really clear about what you want in your  career moving forward — think beyond what job role, salary or location you would  like, and consider what makes work meaningful for you,” says recruitment  consultants ​Beaumont People​.
  3. Overcome your fears:​ “For many people stuck in jobs they dislike, it is fear  preventing them from taking action,” says Leah Lambart, career coach from  Relaunch Me.​ “There are many fears associated with a career change — the fear of  the unknown, the fear of rejection, the fear of a financial hit, the fear of loss of status,  and the fear of what others will think. These are real fears, but they need to be  overcome before you can make a career change,” she explains.
  4. Be prepared for some challenges:​ “It is important to take the time to assess your  fears and face them head-on. Understand that you might not skip into this new  chapter worry-free and that hesitancy is a natural feeling,” says the team at job  search website ​Adzuna​.
  5. Talk it over: “​A career change is a big deal that calls for careful consideration. It’s  wise to talk it through with someone you trust personally or professionally to get a  fresh perspective. If you have a family, they’ll be affected by the career change too  so involve your partner in the decision-making process,” says Australia’s leading  careers and course search website, ​Career FAQs​.
  6. Consider speaking to a career coach: “​Find a career coach or mentor to help guide  you,” advise Beaumont People. “In addition to expert coaching, they can help you  update your resume, create a career change cover letter, and get your LinkedIn  profile work-ready — it’s certainly worth the investment.​”
    Plan for change: ​“The more we can plan for change, the better we can adapt,”  explains Career FAQs. “Are your finances stable while you’re transitioning? If you’re  going to be studying or working different hours, will your family be looked after? Will  you need to move homes or states for your new gig? The more time you take out to  make a plan, the more at ease you’ll be when it comes time to take that leap into  your new career.”
  7. Plan for change: ​“The more we can plan for change, the better we can adapt,”  explains Career FAQs. “Are your finances stable while you’re transitioning? If you’re  going to be studying or working different hours, will your family be looked after? Will  you need to move homes or states for your new gig? The more time you take out to  make a plan, the more at ease you’ll be when it comes time to take that leap into  your new career.”
  8. Get your finances in order:​ “One of the greatest causes of stress for those  considering a career change is whether or they can afford to do it. This can lead to  heightened dissatisfaction in their current situation as they feel trapped by the  perception that the financial risks are too great. Careful and realistic budgeting can  allay these fears, or at least assist in making an informed decision about whether a  change is possible,” advise ​PeopleSense by Altius​, a ​health solutions consulting firm.
  9. Don’t quit your day job, yet!​ “It’s important to keep in mind, you shouldn’t always  drop everything (unless you can afford to) to follow your career dream — doing so  might cause high levels of stress and lower your confidence. If you need to study to  up-skill or see a career transition expert, try to do this outside of work hours so you  can continue to earn an income,” says people2people.
  10. Assess your skills and strengths: “​Before you go out to market, you need to identify  your key transferable skills and strengths —just because you are starting out with a  new career doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch,” explains Relaunch Me. The  team at Beaumont People agree — “Ask people you’ve worked with previously and  take an online strengths assessment, which can be very affordable. You will find it  easier to change direction and get interviews for a role that is aligned with your  strengths,” they explain.
  11. Get clear on your current values: “​Our values often change as we get older and  particularly after we have a family. What was important in your 20s may be vastly  different from what is important in your 40s, 50s or 60s. Whether it be high-income,  meaningful work, status, work/life balance, flexibility or managing people, it’s  important to get clear on what matters to you,” says Relaunch Me.
  12. Keep an open mind:​ “For most people, there are many ways to achieve what they  want, so stay open to less obvious paths to get what you want out of your career,”  says Transitioning Well​.
  13. Do your research: “​Find out everything you can about your preferred career choice.  Look at what skills, qualifications, and years of experience you need, then assess the  labour market for information about the numbers of jobs available,” advise  PeopleSense.
  14. Get Networking! “​Research suggests that over 80% of jobs are filled through  relationships and referrals rather than being advertised; this rate is even higher for  those who are returning to work on a part-time basis or after an extended career  break,” says Relaunch Me. “Make a list of your contacts and use LinkedIn or the  phone to reach out to them for a coffee.”
  15. Build Your Resilience:​ “With any change comes the risk of failure, however, it’s  important to remember that even the greatest entrepreneurs have failed. Getting out of your comfort zone is hard, however deciding to make a career change is the first  big step, so you’re halfway there,“ says Career FAQs.


How can I upskill or re-train for a career change?  

According to PeopleSense, upskilling in many areas has never been easier. “These days,  most tertiary and vocational training institutions no longer require full-time attendance and  conduct some or all of the course online, making correspondence learning easily accessible  to all,” they explain. “If you are considering a career change into an area of skills shortage,  you might even qualify for government funding,” they add.

Whether you need to acquire technical skills like learning software, or core skills such as  negotiation or sales skills, there are courses to suit everyone. Relaunch Me recommend  Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) like Udemy, Alison and Coursera. “MOOCs are a  fantastic resource for career changers to upskill whilst also getting a taste for the content  before committing to expensive long-term courses.

If you are considering upskilling while working full-time, you will need to stick to a strict  schedule warns Adzuna. “You need to be fully disciplined in the process so as to allocate a  portion of your day to complete self-reading and learning before attending the classes or  online assessments.”


Mistakes to Avoid When Changing Careers   

  • Waiting too long to make a change:​ According to Transitioning Well, research  shows that the longer people wait to move on from a job, the harder it becomes.  “Often people stay in a job long after they’ve stopped loving it and the motivation  then revolves around getting away from the pain rather than excitement about  what’s ahead,” they explain.
  • Using old job search tactics:​ “Traditional (passive) job search methods like trawling  job boards rarely work for career changers or those returning to work after an  extended break. It’s rare that employers are open to seeing someone who barely  meets any of the criteria on the job brief. Career changers need to use active job  search strategies which involve ‘looking for people, not jobs’.
  • Not doing the numbers: “​It is important to remember that you may have financial  responsibilities such as repayments to the home loan, rent, and other fixed costs. The  costs of your living expenses need to be calculated to ensure that the new career  can cover them adequately,” warns Adzuna.
  • Changing careers for the wrong reason: ​“Ask yourself what your real motives are  and how they meet both your short-term and long-term goals,” advise Career FAQs.
  • Leaving your current job too soon:​ Leaving a current job before a new role is lined  up is often a big mistake, which can leave people financially exposed.
  •  Having a poor CV or resume:​ “It is really imperative for a career changer to have a  compelling resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile,” says Relaunch Me. They also  recommend consulting a professional service to help with this task.
  • Doing unnecessary study:​ “Too often career changers enrol in expensive  postgraduate courses without doing the appropriate research to ensure that they will  actually enjoy the job. I advise researching the career outcomes first and then  working backwards to work out what course you need to do. In many cases, a career  change may actually be possible without doing further study,” says Relaunch Me.
  • Not doing the research:​ Try to find out as much as you can about the industry you  want to enter,” says Career FAQs. “Research online, talk to your family, contacts and  industry professionals, attend career and trade fairs. You could consider working  part-time or even volunteering to get a better idea of what’s involved before you  make the leap.​”
  • Expecting a fast transition:​ “Career changes don’t take place overnight — it can take  two to six years to fully transform your career. Maintain a positive attitude and take  the journey to your desired career one step at a time,” recommends Career FAQs.
  • Believing you’re too old: ​Good Education Media bust the myth that you’re too old to  go back to school. “There is a misconception that if you didn’t complete a degree in  your 20s, you’ve missed your chance, but nothing could be further from the truth.  More than half of all domestic students commencing undergraduate degrees are not  recent school-leavers, and your professional and life experience will be highly  valued by prospective employers, so it’s never too late!”

”A career transition is inevitably a period of uncertainty. Ensure yourself and your family are financially protected through this period and beyond. Find out more about our award-winning income protection insurance.



Help protect your family with
Australia's most awarded direct life insurer
five years running (2019 - 2023)

New Customer Enquiry Form
Existing Client Enquiry Form
Claims Support Form
Request a callback