Few people begin their careers planning on making a major change in their field of work unexpectedly in the middle of their career. But unfortunately, that is a situation many people do eventually find themselves in. The Covid-19 pandemic has made this an unfortunate reality for even more people than in typical times. Today, we’re going to take a look at how to make a mid-career pivot, how to overcome some of the difficulties associated with making a change like this, and even some ways you may try to make the best of a mid-career pivot and focus on the positive aspects of such a change.

The first thing to mention is that in this article, when we’re talking about a mid-career pivot, we’re not talking about just changing employers within your field on your own initiative. This type of job change, where you move from one employer to another but stay in pretty much the same field, is actually highly recommended by most career experts as one of the best ways to increase your pay and move up the career ladder.

In this article, though, we’ll be talking about how to bounce back when you realize you need to radically change your career. Sometimes this is the result of losing a job in one’s field. Sometimes this is the result of burnout or realizing you need to make a career change for other compelling reasons. Sometimes this is the result of technological or economic changes reducing the number of jobs available in a field. Whether the decision to change fields is one you initiate or one that is forced upon you, experts have several recommendations that apply in either case.

First, examine your reasons for your career change and your goals. This may be as straightforward as, “I lost my manufacturing job when the factory in town closed, so now I need to find a job to replace that same level of income.” Or it could be something like, “I am feeling burned out and unfulfilled in my current field, and I’d like to switch fields to something more fulfilling, even if it means making slightly less money.” Thinking about the “whys” of your career change and being specific about your goals is important. What is it about your desired new field that is appealing to you? Is it the opportunity to do more problem-solving at work? To work more closely with other people? To work less closely with other people? To do more (or less) physical work? To work more (or less) outdoors? Thinking clearly about exactly what it is you’re looking for in a new field may help you better list and evaluate your options.

A second common piece of advice is to consider how the skills, experience, and qualifications you currently have may carry over into a new field. For example, if you have a lot of experience working in the food and beverage industry, it might be a natural transition to become a bookkeeper or accountant for clients in that industry. While you might need additional training on the bookkeeping or accounting aspect of the work, you already have knowledge of the industry and contacts with people who may become your future clients.

On the topic of additional training, getting additional training often comes with the territory when doing a mid-career pivot. But consider very carefully the financial math of getting new training mid-career, especially if it is expensive training. You’ll want to consider carefully whether you’ll be able to recuperate the cost of your training in the remaining working years you have left.

So, for an example, taking a relatively short course of retraining to become a paralegal might be a good move, even mid-career. The cost of such retraining, in time and money, can be relatively modest, and being a paralegal can be a relatively well-paying career. So even a person with only 15 or so working years left before retirement might still be able to recuperate the cost of their mid-career training through their later career work as a paralegal.

On the other hand, it might not make financial sense to, for example, go into debt in order to go to law school as a mid-career change. Even though working as a lawyer can be lucrative (although it’s often not as lucrative as people assume), it still may be hard to recuperate the cost of law school in only 15 or 20 years of working as a lawyer after law school. Now, if you have other reasons for feeling you need to be a lawyer, that’s a different consideration, but whatever your motivations, for most people, money plays a role in choosing a career.

In calculating the cost of mid-career training, be sure to consider not only the upfront cost of the training but also the opportunity cost of the time the training will take. For most people, training will mean they won’t be able to work as much at a paying job during the period of your training, so you’ll need to consider that missed income in calculating the total cost of getting mid-career training.

Another thing worth considering is how technology might affect any field you’re considering getting into. As examples, some experts predict that at least some manufacturing jobs may begin to be performed by robots or other forms of automation soon. Some experts have even made this prediction about professional truck driving jobs. Now, some of these predictions are somewhat debatable. No one can see the future perfectly. But it pays to consider how changes in technology might affect any field you’re thinking of jumping into.

Once you’ve chosen your target field, you’ll want to tailor your resume to fit your goal. Since you’re changing fields of work, this tailoring of your resume will probably take more effort and editing than just updating your resume to seek another job in your current field. You don’t want to leave any gaps in your work history. But at the same time, you want to include in your resume mostly things that will be relevant in your target field. If you had major achievements in your past field, you can include those. But if you have skills that were relevant in your old field but are not likely to be relevant in your new field, you may need to edit them out of your resume.

This next piece of advice can be a tough one, but you should consider honestly whether you may need to change locations in order to find the new career you want. Jobs are not evenly distributed geographically, and some industries are highly concentrated in some places and hardly present at all in other places. If you are willing and able to move to find your new career, that can be an advantage. If you aren’t, that’s worth considering, being honest with yourself about, and taking into account as you plan your career change.

Whether your mid-career pivot is by your choice or something circumstances have thrust upon you, we hope this article helps you in your transition, and we wish you the best in your search for a fulfilling career. Working with a LifeGuru Career Coach may help you with your career changes. We have many coaches ready to work with you today no matter where you are on your career ladder. Use “Search My Coach” or “Match My Coach” to find your LifeGuru career coach today.