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Feedback Re: Career Change
Old 07-18-2018, 04:25 PM   #1
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Feedback Re: Career Change

I tried to use the advanced search functionality to search the terms in post titles only :

career change

but results included things like "Time for an oil change for my car". Not sure I used it correctly.

Anyway, I'm hoping to hear general experiences from people who've made a career change. While I welcome any and all feedback, I'd be most interested in hearing from people who've made the change after age 50.

I'm at a real crossroads and need to make a decision - either resign myself to not working again (i.e., retiring early) or finding a new career. I think I could RE (see my <a href="http://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f28/please-poke-holes-through-this-92082.html#post2052157">post</a> to see my financial situation), but I'd feel much more comfortable about it if I had the NW that I do at a market bottom/recession trough. I'm a little overwhelmed by the thought of changing careers as I never thought long and hard about what else I'd do.

Because my current line of work is generally considered by employers to be a cost that needs to be cut as much as possible (employers go to great lengths to cut costs in my field, including heavy political lobbying to influence policy, payment to "think tanks" to write "studies" with a predetermined outcome in order to influence policy - e.g., Brookings Institution - etc.), the thought of moving into a field that would actually be valued is appealing to me. But I don't know - at my age (51) - how realistic that is.

I would really appreciate ANY stories, anecdotes, and/or advice from ANYONE really, but more so from those who've successfully made a career change.

Thanks.
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Old 07-18-2018, 04:36 PM   #2
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I haven't done it successfully yet but I would turn your passion/hobby into a business. I am kind on this path but the eventual income won't be even close to what I make today. For me, income coming from my passion/hobbies would be to pay for them so I don't dip into my investment income when time comes for RE!
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Old 07-18-2018, 04:46 PM   #3
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my late FIL retired from the foreign service and went to work for a Mega when he was 55. does that help?
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Old 07-18-2018, 04:48 PM   #4
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my late FIL retired from the foreign service and went to work for a Mega when he was 55. does that help?
What did your FIL do at Mega?
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Old 07-18-2018, 04:54 PM   #5
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I went from logging and sawmills into programming and IT at age 27. It was a big change. I went from being able to spit on the floor and telling anyone to go F themselves to not.

Whole nother world. Nobody threatened to drop logs on my head cause they thought I'd short them on the measurements of logs.
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:02 PM   #6
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I would really appreciate ANY stories, anecdotes, and/or advice from ANYONE really, but more so from those who've successfully made a career change.
I made 2 career changes.

I left a cost-center type career to join a family business.
Then, once I realized the rest of the family wasn't on board with where I wanted to take the business, I changed careers again.

My last, profit-center, career was by far the best and the most fulfilling.

Depending on the target career, 51 isn't old at all.
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:06 PM   #7
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I made 2 career changes.

I left a cost-center type career to join a family business.
Then, once I realized the rest of the family wasn't on board with where I wanted to take the business, I changed careers again.

My last, profit-center, career was by far the best and the most fulfilling.

Depending on the target career, 51 isn't old at all.
Please tell me more. What is this profit-center job? How did you decide that THIS is what you wanted to do (presumably never having done it before)? Did it require any additional schooling, licensing, certification, years of sacrifice before realizing your new career? How did you find an employer to hire you without having experience in this line of work? Did you have a strong network?
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:11 PM   #8
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VP of international affairs I think
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:21 PM   #9
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When I decided to retire from the military, I felt that I wasn't qualified for anything in particular. I had the most unusual military career I ever heard of, in that every assignment was in a completely different area than any previous assignment. I eventually realized that they saw me as kind of a troubleshooter, because most of my assignments were replacing someone who had been fired for incompetence. My job was simply to get the outfit back on its feet and then they sent me somewhere else. I absolutely loved it, because I was constantly learning new stuff.

So when I decided I had enough, I simply went around and talked to everyone I knew, asking them what they thought I might be good at. Eventually the opinions sort of converged on "Well, you're really good at explaining complicated things so people can understand them."

Based on that, I spent some time in the library researching career fields and decided that I might be good as a technical writer. Got a job in that field, and spent the next 12 years as a tech writer/project manager in the software world and loved that too, for the same reason. My job was basically to have the user manuals ready at the same time as the software. Challenging, but always interesting.
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:39 PM   #10
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I don't know what possessed me to think this was a good idea, but after nearly 30 years in law enforcement I decided to try something completely unrelated: a new car salesman. And with my uncanny knack for perfect timing, I started in April, 2008, just as the bottom was falling out of the economy.

I was a dismal failure, didn't sell a single car, and was fired about six weeks later. It stands out because that was the only job I was ever fired from. I was laughing as I left the parking lot.
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Old 07-18-2018, 06:23 PM   #11
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I changed my career path around age 30 by starting law school at night while continuing to work full-time. At that point I had a job I disliked that felt like a dead end but I really had no idea what I wanted to do, or could do. (Maybe teaching? Or....) I was drawn to law school when I found out that you don't need any particular background to get in, you just have to do well on a test; and I liked the idea of learning actual skills and having a profession. But I agonized for 3 or 4 years over making the move and had many, many doubts: what if I didn't like it? What if I couldn't do it? What if I flunked out? And law school at night takes 4 years! But I got to a point where I realized that I'd never know unless I tried, and I had to try something, didn't want to put it off any longer. Nowadays I'm not sure the world needs more lawyers and the cost of law school seems like a horrible investment for many. But for me, from the first night at school, I felt I was in the right place, and it led me to a career I loved. Taking that leap was one of the hardest things I've ever done & I'm very proud that I did it (with no network, no support, no encouragement from anyone).

Look around you for glimmers of things that might interest you. Don't wait for certainty; you'll never know if something will work out unless you try. And the next few years will go by so quickly anyway -- where do you want to be then?
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Old 07-18-2018, 06:25 PM   #12
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Please tell me more. What is this profit-center job? How did you decide that THIS is what you wanted to do (presumably never having done it before)? Did it require any additional schooling, licensing, certification, years of sacrifice before realizing your new career? How did you find an employer to hire you without having experience in this line of work? Did you have a strong network?
My first career was in IT departments as a programmer, analyst, and then management. My final career was in companies developing and selling software solutions in a QA management role.

The difference was night and day. While nearing the end of my first career I decided that I would never again work in an overhead job. Trying to justify budgets was simply no longer worthwhile.

I was able to capitalize on my management and database knowledge while in IT and turn it into a QA management role for a company developing solutions for database managers. I landed the job through a DBA friend who used to work for me back in the IT days. I guess I was able to convince the Director and VP that I was capable of doing the job - even though I had zero QA experience to that point. Getting into QA was the best thing I ever did.

Once that company went public, things started to go downhill quickly. So I landed a job as a QA Director in a startup company developing Test Automation software. That was by far the best job I ever had. Not only did I love the work, I loved the company and the coworkers, and I was able to be the company's domain expert. And I was compensated well and eventually moved into a VP of Engineering role.

I've always been a lifelong learner. Most things I picked up on my own - programming languages, SDLC concepts, QA concepts, test automation, etc, etc. And in the earlier years, I was getting my Bachelor's degree and then my MBA while working full time in IT. Staying on top of ever-changing technologies was just par for the course.

Having a strong professional network has served me well throughout my career. I seldom had to use a headhunter or apply for a job without being referred. Many of the jobs I held came about when someone in my network called and asked if I'd like to join them. I was often able to bring along some of my best professional friends to join my team.

Changing careers can be a bit scary. But if you have a lot of confidence in your abilities to pick up new things it's always doable.
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Old 07-18-2018, 06:26 PM   #13
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When I decided to retire from the military, I felt that I wasn't qualified for anything in particular. I had the most unusual military career I ever heard of, in that every assignment was in a completely different area than any previous assignment. I eventually realized that they saw me as kind of a troubleshooter, because most of my assignments were replacing someone who had been fired for incompetence. My job was simply to get the outfit back on its feet and then they sent me somewhere else. I absolutely loved it, because I was constantly learning new stuff.

So when I decided I had enough, I simply went around and talked to everyone I knew, asking them what they thought I might be good at. Eventually the opinions sort of converged on "Well, you're really good at explaining complicated things so people can understand them."

Based on that, I spent some time in the library researching career fields and decided that I might be good as a technical writer. Got a job in that field, and spent the next 12 years as a tech writer/project manager in the software world and loved that too, for the same reason. My job was basically to have the user manuals ready at the same time as the software. Challenging, but always interesting.
Funny you say this. I kind of changed career in the same industry but my new employer hired me because of lot of my hacking hobbies. My hiring manager literally told me that they hired me because I can figure out unknown complicated things. Sometimes you don't know your valuable skills until others tell you.
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Old 07-18-2018, 07:38 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Vincenzo Corleone View Post
I tried to use the advanced search functionality to search the terms in post titles only :

career change

but results included things like "Time for an oil change for my car". Not sure I used it correctly.

Try quotes around it "career change" so it'll look for the whole phrase. Otherwise you get hits matching either word.

Sorry, no advice as I stayed in the same career, in fact carved out a niche that I managed to carve out that I stayed in for pretty much my whole career.
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Old 07-18-2018, 07:47 PM   #15
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what do you want to change to? that will depend.

Entering IT at 51 is quite different than entering sales at 51. Do you look 51? Or do you look 55 or 45? how receptive are you to entering your new field several pegs lower than your current one?

Take a look at the skills and experience you have and see how portable they are across other industries and lines, see how much you can generi-cize your experience to fit a new field. I'd also recommend some chats with career counselors, recruiters, etc.

The From and the To are the parts that are missing here, key ingredients. Starting a new job at 51 - totally doable. Starting a "career" with a strong salary will vary wildly on the details.
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Old 07-18-2018, 08:06 PM   #16
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The From and the To are the parts that are missing here, key ingredients.
From: IT
To: ?
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Old 07-18-2018, 08:16 PM   #17
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When I was 49 I took a job as a business analyst, which involved a lot of project management skills. They are in pretty high demand now. My DS just got a new job as a project manager.
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Old 07-18-2018, 08:23 PM   #18
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IT: in high demand unless your Megacorp decides you are old. There's always some 20 something in some corner of the world wanting to work for your Megacorp.

I say this not to dissuade IT jobs from someone's list, but rather to look at where you want to work. I have 60 something friends happy in small shops. The only risk there is the whole shop goes down.

Megacorp thinks differently. Old IT people are a cost center.
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Old 07-19-2018, 07:05 AM   #19
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I don't know what possessed me to think this was a good idea, but after nearly 30 years in law enforcement I decided to try something completely unrelated: a new car salesman. And with my uncanny knack for perfect timing, I started in April, 2008, just as the bottom was falling out of the economy.

I was a dismal failure, didn't sell a single car, and was fired about six weeks later. It stands out because that was the only job I was ever fired from. I was laughing as I left the parking lot.

Might have been the way you kept saying “sir/ma’am... I need you to step out of the car” after every test drive.
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Old 07-19-2018, 04:17 PM   #20
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I changed careers twice. Once at age 28, second time at age 48. Both were very positive changes in many ways.

Don't wait for the axe to fall. Do things on your own timetable. Consider how and where some of your current skills and attributes will be advantageous to an employer in a new career setting

When you do make a change, make sure that you are running 'to' a new job/career and not simply running away from a current one.
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