How to navigate a career change at 30

Raghav Haran | March 20, 2019

Wanting a career change at 30 is a common experience.

Turning 30 is an important milestone that can inspire you to take stock of your career goals and your life in general.

Maybe you’re stuck in a job you have been in for years, or perhaps you’re just itching for a career change and something that fulfils you.

This article will give you actionable tips and advice to bridge the gap between where you are right now and landing a job you love.

It’s easy to get comfortable in our jobs and just go with the motions, living life on autopilot without thinking about what’s next for our careers. Combined with the fact that it can be scary to leave a decent job for another company, many people stay stuck in a position they’re not excited about until they’re 30.

The good news is that even if you’re 30, you’re still young. You still have time to make a change.

Here are some actionable tips on how to navigate a career change at 30.

“Reverse engineer” jobs you might be interested in

The greatest challenge when navigating a career change is figuring out what job is the best fit for you.

This will depend on whether you have the right experience for a role, the type of company, and more.

The best way to figure out whether or not you would be a good fit for a role (and if you would actually like the job after landing it) is by talking to people in the position you are interested in.

In other words, do informational interviews.

Start by making a list of companies you would be interested in working at and job titles that sound interesting to you, even if they seem unrealistic. Next, think about who you could talk to from those companies.

The best way to find these people is through LinkedIn - you can use the advanced search tool to find people with specific titles at specific companies you might be interested in.

It is important to consider what the person does at the company, as well as the size of the company—you want to target people who are in an aspirational role, but who aren’t so high up that they won’t have time to meet with you. I may want to talk to the CMO of a major company, but I can probably learn more talking to the marketing director of a smaller company.

Also, look for people you have some sort of connection with. If someone went to your college or has a shared connection, he or she will be more likely to want to meet with you. You can use the advanced search tool to uncover which people at the companies you’re interested in went to your school.

Make an Investment In Yourself To Explore Your Interests

Many of us spend money on everything besides our own self-learning and discovery. If you know you want to go into another profession or try something different, start marketing yourself as an expert. You can do this in different ways.

The most valuable way is to meet other people.

Experts agree that the most connected people are the most successful. When you invest in your relationships — professional and personal — it can pay you back in dividends throughout the course of your career.

Networking will help you develop and improve your skill set, stay on top of the latest trends in your industry, follow the pulse of the job market, meet prospective mentors, partners, and clients, and gain access to the necessary resources that will foster your career development.

It can also help you in major ways during your job search.

Develop More Self-Awareness

Becoming more self-aware isn’t easy, especially if you’re not sure what you want to do yet.

There are a few ways to do this.

One way is to ask other people to tell you what they think your strengths and talents are.

Look into your past

Many career professionals would ask you to assess your hobbies to evaluate yourself carefully. While that can be effective, a better approach would be going back to the past and trying to make up a meaning of your life story so far.

As weird as this sounds, understanding what makes you who you are today requires going back to the places you have been, the people you have met, and the experiences you have been through. It is probably going to take some time, but if you are serious about becoming more self-aware, it will be worth it.

Keep a journal

One way of becoming more self-aware is to move around different jobs or volunteer for different activities.

Exploring your choices is all about building on those experiences that can help you learn what you like or don’t like and then choose which way to go. As you move from job to job, a placement or an internship, whether it is considered to be ‘a real job’ or not, make a point to write down what you did, what happened, and how you felt about it.

This helps you to keep a log of your activities as well as how you felt while taking part in it. You may not be able to tell what activities you prefer while working on your journal, but once you read it you will have a clearer idea about your needs and abilities.

Keep questioning yourself

Another way of getting to know yourself better is to question yourself. The idea is that you question how you do things and constantly ask yourself why you do those things the way you do. This will help you analyse your behaviour in more depth regarding the following:

  1. how you relate to others
  2. how you work individually and as part of a group
  3. how well you respond to stress
  4. how organised you are
  5. how you prefer to work
  6. how you manage time etc

You can do this with any other activity as well, as long as it doesn’t get tiring or frustrating for you. It might be better to start with the aforementioned and then proceed to the more important ones. To get this right, you may need to go back to your childhood memories or at the time when you were in school or university.

Stay Patient and Take Care of Yourself

When you’re wrapped up in your job hunt, it’s easy to let basic but important tasks and routines fall by the wayside.

You don’t want to fall victim to this trap. So, remember to place some emphasis on taking adequate care of yourself. Ensure that you are eating a healthy and balanced diet. Make time each week for exercise and physical activity. Go to bed at a decent hour.

I know that these might seem like unimportant things. But when it comes to being alert and maintaining a positive attitude, they are absolutely crucial. After all, you already know that your 2 AM bedtime and your diet that consists solely of Taco Bell and chocolate pudding don’t really make you feel wonderful.

Write out a “disaster scenario”

If you are waiting until you’re ready to quit your job, start your side hustle, or make that phone call, you’ll be waiting a lifetime. There is never going to be a good time to leap. When it’s bold, it won’t always be logical. But it’ll be right. The less time you wait to be ready, the more ready you’ll be.

What’s the worst that could happen? Literally the worst. Detail the absolute worst scenario you can imagine if this leap of faith were to go terribly wrong. Get it out there. Read it. Think about it. Roll around in it. If you can take inventory of your worst case scenario and still be pretty OK with the choice, you’ll be even more propelled to jump.

Getting comfortable with your worst case scenario is one of the best tactics you can implement to make you more comfortable in taking your “leap of faith.” If you can mentally handle that, you can handle anything.

And once you actually start the process of making that leap through informational interviews or job applications, you’ll find that you don’t come anywhere near it.

Big magic requires even bigger courage.

Making a leap of faith for your career is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and your chances of success.

Blost post author Raghav Haran

About the author

Raghav Haran

Raghav Haran is a copywriter and marketer.

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