The Mid-Life Career Change – a growing trend in the workforce

A candidate comes to you with their resume and you’re a little flabbergasted – they have had a good job, own a respectable home, they’ve been offered some nice career progression plans over the years, but here lies their resume in front of you and you find yourself thinking, why?

It looks like a mid-life career change. What would you do? Would you take a chance on them?

In this week’s blog we talk about this growing trend, how it can be a great opportunity for building up your workforce and what you can do as a manager to develop these people in your organisation.

The Trend – New Directions

According to Live Science, Yahoo Finance and Parade Magazine, 56% of all U.S employees are actively trying to switch careers or planning to; with an estimated 60% of this being mid-life workers. These statistics are catching on and are predicted to flow onto to other markets around the world.

Mid-life Career Changes or “Changers” aren’t uncommon. At the midpoint of life of a primary career, many find themselves bored, empty, worn out, restless or craving something “more”. It could be because their first career happened more as an effort to meet expectation, please their parents, or simply just to make a living, where the “choice” or feeling of a choice was taken out of the equation. Other times, it could just be change in one’s personal life that often occurs in one’s mid-life.

Whatever the reason, mid-life career changes are a growing trend today as studies indicate, so it’s definitely something managers may want to examine closer.

Opportunities – Why should you consider hiring a mid-life career changer?

  • An increased talent pool

In the ever-waging war for talent, it is always wise to look at your options, and that includes talent pools that you might not have considered before. Not only could you recruit someone who may have a lot of experience – the kind of experience your organisation may need and other candidates may be lacking – but you could also source someone who is more attune to the position. Midlife career changers are changing their career to something they are passionate about. They are more aware of what they are good at; therefore they would be more aligned to the position than that of a fresher candidate who has not had the experience to know if this is what they really want.

It’s also important to remember that career changers or candidates with more experience from other fields or positions, have transferable skills regardless of how many career detours they may have taken.

  • The risk of making a “bad” hire is reduced

Mid-life career changers have experience. Their work histories and performance are longer and be more easily checked; furthermore, background and reference checks are easier to perform and are more accurate. SHRM studies show that 49% of employers feel that the length of time a person is in the labour force is a positive hiring factor.

  • Mentors’

Even when starting as a “newbie”, older workers can teach by example.  According to SHRM, younger workers need role models and “unofficial” tour guides to learn how to be behave in the world of work.

The Keys to Success – tips to manage the mid-life career changer

  • Communicate – as with our tips in previous blogs, managing people always requires clear and open communication. Don’t assume that because a more experience candidate gets the job they know exactly what you expect of them. They don’t have the same background as you, and have had experience in different fields and management styles. Be clear with what you want done and what the measurement of completion and success will be for each project or task.

  • Motivate – Be aware that as with age gaps, there are also different motivations for different generations. Tailor your rewards and benefits to benefit their lifestyle and interests. For example, opportunity for advancement is probably less important than the recognition for a job well done. Instead, provide motivation through meaningful work and social relationships; these factors are a bigger priority for older workers than financial or career advancement-motivated rewards.

  • Take advantage of experience – Older workers are ideally placed to mentor younger employees and are often reliable, knowledgeable resources for companies to take advantage of. In return younger employees can provide reciprocal ‘reverse mentoring’ in areas such as technology and social media.

Over to you, what do you think about this growing trend? Share your insights and ideas with us. Have or would you hire someone changing careers midlife?

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