From education to employment

How to Change Careers When You’re Late in the Game: Top 5 Tips

Max Woolf, Career Expert, Zety

You’ve punched a clock for years now. You sweated your way up the ladder and had several promotions along the way that made you comfortable financially.

But, things aren’t clicking. Deep inside, you feel unfulfilled. You don’t care about the work you do at a fundamental level.


It’s everything but easy to switch gears midway. You have a family to look after and a hefty mortgage to pay off.

The kicker?

You have no clue what else you could do.

Don’t stress. You’re about to learn how to change careers when you’re late in the game.

1. Figure out What Moves You

Follow your passion and look for something that made you tick as a child.

How cliche does it sound?

Well, although the above advice might give you willies, according to a study about perseverance and passion, doing things you’re passionate about is essential to long-term success and happy professional life.

But here’s the problem:

What if you’re passionate about crocheting? Do you open up a sewing shop and croche your way to success?

Probably not.

So, here’s what you can do instead:

  1. First, find the time when you feel the most productive or when you have your best ideas. Grab a coffee and jot down things you love doing.
  2. Then, run a Google search for list of jobs for [your passion].

Need a real-life example?

Say you live and breathe music. If you Google jobs for music, you’ll discover that you don’t have to start a band and become a musician.

Instead, you could be a music producer, A&R coordinator, or a music journalist.

So, explore opportunities and try to find at least 15-20 passion-fueled career paths.

Also, as Tom Gerencer, Career Expert and Journalist at Zety, says: 

Steer clear of most career quizzes. They focus too much on skills and personality types over passions. Hence, they aren’t accurate.

2. Weed out Bad Eggs

So far so good.

You’ve made a list of passions, Googled possible career paths, and (hopefully) found viable career options.

Now it’s time to cross out low-paying jobs.


  1. First, the 2018 Jobseeker Nation Survey shows that inadequate salary is the #1 factor that makes people jump ship.
  2. Second, you probably wouldn’t want to live on Tom Ramen for the rest of your life.

So, run the jobs you jotted down through Glassdoor’s salary search feature to see average salaries and keep the ones that pay well enough.

3. Peek into Your Future

Nightmare scenario.

You’ve found a career thought you were cut out for. You pulled the trigger and accepted the job offer.

Two weeks later, you were about to run screaming into the Rocky Mountains.


You didn’t understand the true nature of the job.

Good news, you can peek into a future career in the comfort of your own home.

Here’s how:

  1. Run a Google search for What’s it like to be + + Reddit or Quorra.
  2. Reach out to employees and recruiters on LinkedIn. Some of them will be willing to chat about the role and what it involves.

4. Bridge the Knowledge Gap

Let’s be honest:

At this point, it’s not an option to go back to college and spend a massive chunk of time and cash.

Good news?

  1. First, most careers don’t require an industry-specific degree. So your existing Bachelor’s or Master’s will work just fine.
  2. Second, it’s possible to pick up both hard and soft skills online for free.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you need to know how to use Excel. How long do you think it’ll take to learn the essentials (e.g., graphs, chart, sorting)? A jaw-dropping 15 hours!

So, it’s possible to learn anything in a heartbeat. You just need to know where to find the knowledge:

  • Coursera. A lip-smacking learning platform that lets you audit for free a ton of courses on a variety of topics.
  • Skillshare. A great learning community that leans toward creativity.
  • Udemy. The iTunes for learning new skill sets.

Want some more killer resources to pimp your skills? Check out this 100+ listicle.

5. Tweak Your Resume

You’re on the homestretch.

One more section and you’ll be in your dream-job land (guaranteed, or I’ll send you a goldfish.)

But, since you’re going to change careers, you’ll need to tweak your resume to reflect that.

Otherwise, you’ll toss your hopes to break into a new career atop a blazing fire.

Here are some rapid-fire tips:

  1. Pick the right resume format. Because you’re changing careers, you don’t have much experience to show. Instead, you’ll need to prove your skills. The combination resume format does that.
  2. Grab the hiring manager’s attention. Spotlight the best transferrable achievements in the resume objective to make up for lack of experience.
  3. Make the most of the education section. If you’re a career changer, your education section matters. So, list relatable courses and accomplishments to prove to the hiring manager you have what it takes to get the job done.
  4. Always write a cover letter. Cover letters are a must for career changers. They help explain your motives and show why you’re a perfect fit.

So, What Do You Think?

There you have it.

A whopping five tips on how to make a swift midlife career change.

Now, did you ever change careers in your 30-40s? What made you realize it was time to do a 180?

Max Woolf, Career Expert, Zety

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Let’s chat!

About Max: Passionate about helping people land their dream jobs through the expert career industry coverage, iIn his spare time, Max enjoys biking and traveling to European countries.

Related Articles

Promises, Possibilities & Political Futures…

Tristan Arnison discusses the main UK parties’ education policies for the upcoming election. While specifics vary, common themes emerge around curriculum reform, skills training, and…