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How to make a successful career transition in your 50s

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How to make a successful career transition in your 50s

Age is just a number, but on many occasions, workers are held back by age bias in the workplace that views your value after a certain age being diminished with each passing birthday. For women the issue is two-sided as they face discrimination due to their gender and age. Overcoming age bias and empowering workers to feel empowered to career transition regardless of age is one of the most important issues we face today.

A recent survey in Singapore on age discrimination revealed that it is a significant problem affecting both younger and older workers. If you have been in the job market for a number of years, you'll often hear that age is a big factor in your employability. A study on age discrimination in the workplace has found a trend where job seekers over 45 years old are hired less than those in their 20s. Workers have also reported a lack of support on their professional growth as they reach the age of 50.

It's not hard to understand why older workers can grow to become disillusioned in their jobs. You could be the most engaged employee at work but the support and attention on you declines just because you have reached a certain age.

When you find yourself in a company that does not believe that older employees are just as driven and passionate about their careers as they were when they first joined, you can prove them wrong by continuing to pursue your dreams, even if it has to be elsewhere.

Unfortunately, many Employers often have negative attitudes towards older workers. Age discrimination persists even though older workers are not necessarily less healthy, less educated, less skillful or productive than their younger counterparts. Older women especially face particular challenges in employment because of their sex and age.

The truth is age bias deters many older workers from career transitioning into different job types or sectors. But ambition does not end on a particular birthday. Your 50s may seem like an unusual time to consider changing careers, but it's not at all. You're older and wiser than before with a wealth of experiences that can add great value to any organization. While ageism does exist and it will make things difficult, a successful career transition is possible. Let us show you how with these steps below:

Before you leap: Know the stakes

A career transition at any age posits a certain degree of risk. You may have a family and a household that will be affected by the move. Your current responsibilities extend beyond your job, and you have to consider whether they can stand a change in your income level, workload, and location.

You also have to be prepared for the adjustment that comes with the transition. You will be experiencing a stronger pressure to perform as you start anew. It also means dealing with your own changing circumstances.

This may include adopting a new identity in terms of your job; you could have been working as a sales manager for decades but soon you will become a remote IT support analyst. Not only are you adjusting but the people who have known you professionally will also adjust to your new title and position.

Another important aspect is your health. We derive our motivation from how well we can deal with the demands of the job. As we age, our body is no longer the same as before. Depending on how you have taken care of your health, you could be working with more or less energy than when you started working.

For women, it's about dealing with the onset of menopause. While unnoticeable at first, we may soon have to deal with issues in concentration and fatigue. This aspect of women's health is rarely brought up but we have to realize that it does affect women and their work. However, it is not a barrier to our careers, but rather a means of approaching our health and this stage of our lives in a different way. We have to consider this as a new factor in our own ideas of how well we can manage stress and avoid burnout.

Moreover, as noted some hiring companies unfortunately do exhibit age bias or ageism. They discriminate against older applicants due to outdated beliefs and stereotypes. Recruiters also want to avoid representing older candidates because they believe that they stand less of a chance during the recruiting process. It's important to be aware of these issues you'll be facing. We aren't trying to discourage you with them; rather, it is vital for you to understand that the road ahead will not be a walk in the park. Take into account that you will be working just as hard, if not harder, than you did during the early years of your career.

Kicking off: Tips to ease the way

Now that you have a clearer view of what's ahead, follow these tips to successfully make the change:

1. Determine what you want to achieve

Take the time until you have a clear view of your goals, and visualize what sort of lifestyle you want to have with this career. Money is important but it's not everything. Consider goals beyond money, such as working for a cause or increasing personal satisfaction. However, don't go overboard and ensure that you are working toward a realistic endgame. Find out which companies have a better attitude toward older employees such as offering them benefits and freely taking them as new hires.

2. Prepare for the hard questions

The issue of your age can and will come up so let recruiters see how interested you are in the job and that you plan to stay. Also, they may assume that your experience level means higher salary expectations; dissuade them by saying that you are here for the fulfillment and not just for the money. As you do your research on the requirements for the role, list down your transferable skills while ensuring that you're comfortable with working with technology in the workplace. This will impress them and increase your chances of getting in.

3. Utilize your network

Remember to utilize your resources: talk to your network and find support. Your former colleagues and mentors can be a big help in looking for a good place to start. Learn to use social media as well to explore more possibilities. Jobs are not limited to the traditional job sites anymore.

4. Show them your skill

One of your strengths is that you are abundant in working experience. Emphasize your achievements and specializations as you rebrand your resume for the new position. Demonstrate your expertise by letting recruiters see that you are updated and knowledgeable about the industry and the company's products and services.

5. Plan out your next move

Create a career plan that details how you will get from here to your goals. Be more open-minded about the steps you'll be taking. Consider that you will be working with a younger set of co-workers and prevent your personal ageism from creating friction with them. Focus on the fact that it will help you gain more experience as a part of your upskilling. It is also a way to test the waters on whether the role is right for you.

Throughout your journey, cultivate your patience and stay positive. As a seasoned worker, you have a better idea than most about what you are getting into, so have faith in yourself and your abilities. Don't hold anything back as you put your best into paving the way for your new beginning. And remember to say it loud:” I’m not done yet and I will make it my mission to finish my career with a bang not a whimper”. 

Half the Sky's mission is to supply the tools that can give every woman the ability to build a successful career and be fully prepared for the future of work. So, that they can lead a healthy, prosperous and more balanced/blended lifestyle of their choosing.  By building your confidence, you’re setting foundations to empower yourself and your career.  The world is your oyster, and it starts with you. 

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