MANSFIELD - With more technical, entrepreneurial advances being made every day, it’s the perfect time to begin a new career, and for some, possibly even change it.
Despite the stigma surrounding the older generation being “too old” to pursue another career path, experts have shared that there’s never a time limit on discovering yourself.
Pamela Schopieray, director of career development at The Ohio State University at Mansfield, agreed that certain factors played into the stigma about changing careers later on in life.
“I think it’s still probably the stereotypes about how once you get past 40—which I think is really young—that you can’t reinvent yourself,” Schopieray said.
Schopieray, who’s been working at OSU-Mansfield for 30 years, considers herself a part of that group wanting to make a career change. She hopes to retire soon and find another career path for herself, however she’s told herself not to be too rash.
“One critical factor is the fact that people are living longer and so they’re going to have to work longer to potentially live in terms of expenses and healthcare and all those kinds of things that retirement doesn’t cover,” she said.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those ages 55 and over is just 3.2 percent.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 1.2 million, was essentially unchanged in November 2019 and accounted for 20.8 percent of the unemployed.
Among the marginally attached, there were 325,000 discouraged workers, down by 128,000 from a year earlier. Discouraged workers include people not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.
As for the remaining 921,000 of people marginally attached to the labor force, they chose not to search for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
Sonja Pluck, adult education director at Madison Adult Center, encourages people to try new things when they’re feeling stuck.
“Things are changing all the time, technology is changing all the time and it’s never too late to change your career, especially if you’re in something that you’re not really enjoying. You can always learn a different skill and do something different,” Pluck said.
Pluck noted the changes that have come with the career center since starting up back in the 1970s. After only providing short-term courses such as Microsoft Word and cake decorating, they’ve expanded to eleven Career Development Programs, numerous career/personal enrichment courses and customized training services for employers.
“As the years went, we started offering the career training program and feel really good about what we’re doing,” Pluck said.
Although it can be scary to take the leap of faith, and uncertainty can set in, Schopieray “hopes the tide will change” in the future for those wanting to switch careers.
“It’s a different time with people of all ages in the workforce, and I think people are going to have to—whether they want to or not—work longer,” she said.
What steps do you need to take in order to make a successful career change?
Go to an adult career center - Whether or not you know what career you plan on switching to, it never hurts to talk to a professional about it. Try going to a career center and looking for programs that may suit your interest.
Learn how to market yourself - As you search for opportunities within your career of choice, make sure you know how to talk yourself up. Use your past experiences, education and personality to stand out among others when you’re trying to get hired.
Use your existing network - You’ve switched careers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take all of the knowledge you’ve acquired with you. Use whatever relevant resources you have to provide evidence of your credentials. Having good references is the key to getting your dream job to consider you a viable option.
Find people within your niche - Learn from others. Try looking for people who are either already doing the job you aspire to do or people in the same boat as you in terms of making the career switch. Ask questions, figure out the do’s and don’ts of the job and learn from others past mistakes.
Don’t expect to see a big change overnight - It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Most of the time the opportunity you’re looking for won’t just pop into your lap. Take it slow. Create a list of goals ranging from small to big and know what you absolutely can do vs. what you may some need help with.