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Naomi Rothwell-Boyd, May 16 2022

5 Best First Steps For Changing Career at 30

Making a mid-life career change at 30 can be daunting, but it's not impossible. If you're 30 years old and feeling like you're in a rut, it's time to start planning your next steps.

When you first consider making a serious change, it can feel like a mountain to climb. But if you take it one step at a time, anything is possible. The trick to changing career at 30 is to focus on the steps, not the mountain.

Each step then becomes far easier and progress is more about ensuring you take steps every day consistently until you get to where you would rather be.

But where do I even start with a new career change at 30?

Here are five first steps for changing career at 30 that will help you get started on the right path.

1) List what's not working today
2) Rank your personal needs by priority
3) Brainstorm any and all future career possibilities
4) Prepare for your disciplined job hunt
5) Set your deadlines & start

Let's take a deeper look at each of these steps.

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1) List what's not working today

It's much easier to examine what's not working, based on your situation today, than it is to imagine your dream situation. Deep down you already know what's not working as those are things that annoy you.

The great thing is these give you a direct link and signpost to the solutions. If you can work on solving them, or changing them, then that's a step in the right direction.

For example; if you're unhappy with your current salary, list what needs to change for you to earn more. It could be taking on extra responsibilities at work or changing jobs. But it also might mean going back to study or changing careers altogether.

Other examples might be; you don't have enough time for yourself, you want to work less hours, you're not using your qualifications or skills, you're bored or unchallenged in your current role.

Listing what's not working today gives you a great starting point as it means changing career at 30 can be about changing just one thing or a few things to make a big difference.

Lists make a career change easier!

Start by making a list of everything that's not working for you in your current situation. Be as specific as possible. Once you have your list, take a look at each item and ask yourself what needs to change in order for that to improve.

From there, you can start to brainstorm some potential solutions.

List what's not working today:

What needs to change in order for that to improve:

Listing what's not working today gives you a great starting point as it means changing career at 30 can be about changing just one thing or a few things to make a big difference.

2) Rank your personal needs by priority

Step two is all about setting up your decision making for success. Making a career change at 30 means making good choices. But before you rank you priorities, you first need to figure out what your priorities are!

This can be done by asking yourself a series of questions that help uncover what you need most in a career. Do you need more money, more time, more responsibility? Do you need to feel challenged or do you prefer stability?

Hopefully one or two are fairly obvious already and are part of what's driving you to look for a new career path and more job satisfaction. But noting down more than one or two is harder but essential. You don't only have one or two priorities - everyone has many competing priorities that then need ranking. These priorities and ideas are different when you're in your 30s and they influence how you transition into something better.

Use your previous list

So if you're struggling to come up with a decent list, now refer back to your list of what's not working today. From this list, the complete opposite of each item is likely to be a possible priority for you.

For example, if one of your "not working" items is that you're bored and unchallenged, then a priority could be to find a challenging role that stimulates you. This is a great and relevant potential priority you need to consider. Go through each item of your not-working list and make sure you have the counter priority included here too.

Different types of needs

Common things people need from a career are more money, more responsibility, new skills, better work/life balance, shorter commute, job satisfaction and so on. Maybe it could be returning to education and getting a new degree or trying online courses to help change careers. But it's not just about having things - people often need to avoid certain situations as well.

For example; you might want to avoid a career that involves too much travel if you have young children at home. You might want to avoid working in an industry that is under threat or in decline like your current career.

And it's not just about work either - your needs might be non-work related. For instance; you might need to live closer to family, you might want to move to a sunnier climate or you might wish to pursue a hobby full time.

Remember, your needs are entirely unique to you so make sure you spend some time thinking about what they are.

Ranking your priorities

Now that you have a good list of potential priorities, it's time to start ranking them.

Remember, this is about changing career at 30 so we're not looking for a minor change - we're looking for a significant difference that will have a big impact on your life.

That means, your top priority should be something that would make the biggest difference to your happiness and satisfaction. It might not be the easiest thing to achieve but it should be the most important.

For example, if you're looking for a complete change of scenery, a move to another country might be your top priority. If you're looking for a big change at work, a promotion or starting your own business might be what you need.

Of course, some priorities will be easier to achieve than others and some may not be possible at all. That's fine - just make sure the ones you do choose are ones that would have the biggest impact on your life and make you the happiest.

Once you've decided on your top priority, it's time to move onto step three.

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3) Brainstorm any and all future career possibilities

This should be considered the fun part of the exercise. By now you should have your top priorities ranked in order to help guide your next career choices, vetting and decision making. Now it's time to create a separate list of the things that will be filtered by your priorities - all the potential options out there.

While it may not feel like it, there really are endless career possibilities. And it's important to try and list as many as possible at this stage, even if some seem a bit out there. The more options you have, the more likely you are to find something that's right for you.

Coming up with ideas

As a first start you could try our list of 110 New Job Ideas For Inspiration.

A good way to brainstorm possibilities is to look at people you admire or who have interesting careers. What do they do? Could you see yourself doing something similar?

Another way to come up with ideas is to look at the types of skills and experience you have. What could you do with those? Are there any gaps in your skills or experience that you need to address?

You could also try looking at job postings online - what sorts of roles are out there? Are there any that stand out to you or look interesting?

Categorising options helps

It can seem overwhelming or hard to think of ideas, so try out this framework. Try thinking of ideas in these four distinct buckets:

Stepping stone jobs are the jobs you could walk into today if you needed to, the ones that on the same experience level or perhaps a little lower. They might be in the same industry or field as your current job, or they could be something completely different.

Aspirational jobs are ones that you could do with a bit more training or experience. They might be in a similar field to what you're doing now but at a higher level, or they could be something entirely different.

Dream jobs are the ones that you might not be able to do today, or even in the next five years. But they're the jobs you really want to do, the ones that excite and inspire you.

Crazy jobs are just that - crazy ideas that might not be possible or realistic but that you love anyway. They're the ones that make you think "what if... ?"

Some people find it helpful to write down their ideas in each category, others prefer to just keep them in their head. It's up to you. The goal here is to come up with a large volume of ideas. Make as big a list as possible.

You want to give yourself as much ammunition for step 4 as possible.

4) Prepare for your disciplined job hunt

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail - still true today. So let's get cracking with our career preparation!

Preparing for you job hunt comes in three parts:

Use your ranked priorities to focus in on the career possibilities best solve for your prioritiesUpdate all the content & info you will need in your job hunt - i.e. CV, cover letter template & interview pitchListing down people you know who could give you advice and/or introductions

Filter possibilities by priorities

This one should be fairly obvious by now. You need to whittle down all the stepping stone jobs, aspirational job ideas, dream job ideas and crazy job ideas down to ones that will help you with your priorities.

Update you CV, cover letter template and interview pitch

This is another obvious but vital step. Updating your CV is essential as it is how you will secure meetings, conversations and interviews with potential new employers. You need to sell yourself.

Your CV should:

Your cover letter template should:

Your interview pitch should:

If you'd like to dive in deeper on this topic, check out our post on the 15 Best CV Layout And Formatting Tips

Map out your network

The final piece of preparation is then figuring out who you can reach out to that you already know.

This is important for two reasons:

a) People you know are much more likely to be willing to help you than strangers.

b) The best way to get a job is through networking - i.e. meeting someone who can give you a foot in the door, or at least some good advice.

To map out your network, make a list of everyone you know. Then, for each person on the list, write down how they could help you with your job hunt.

Linkedin is the obvious place to start here - but if you don't have a large Linkedin network then do it manually literally using your contacts book! Go through your social media networks to help you find professional or old school and college friends that could help.

5) Set your deadlines & start

Now you're prepared, it's time to really start the marathon. You have your priorities ranked. You've explored the wide array of options worth exploring that help you fulfil your high priority needs. You've updated all the content you need to sell yourself to potential employers. And you've gathered a list of who you want to speak with first to share your aspirations and ask for advice or intros.

Now is the time to set yourself some goals and deadlines. You need to put in the work to put yourself out there and start seeing what gets tractions. So consider:

- When do you want to have your first meeting? - When do you want to send out your first batch of applications? - When do you want to hear back from employers? - When do you want to find a job by?

Set a deadline for each of these milestones and make sure you stick to them. Things always take a little longer than you think so you need to keep yourself to your deadlines.

And that's it! You're ready to go. Changing career at 30 doesn't have to be daunting - if you take it one step at a time, do your research and prepare properly, then you'll be well on your way to success. Good luck!

Uncover how to change your career today with our quick assessment quiz even if you don't know where to start - TRY PATHFINDER NOW

Written by

Naomi Rothwell-Boyd

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