Changing career in your 30s: What you need to know

woman going through a career change

The impact of Covid 19 led to much of the UK revaluating their existing lifestyle.  This included their career route as many sought side hustles and adopted the attitude that it was time to seek endeavours that fulfilled their dreams. 

As a result, a 3rd of Brits aged 30 onwards are pivoting careers and seeking a career change.   So, what do you need to know when changing careers?  Here, HR director Kimberly Payne Switchback Travel presents the need to knows of changing careers and how to navigate a pay cut.


“You have no experience, and no one will hire you”.

One of the many questions you are routinely asked during a job interview is ‘what can contribute to the role?’ It may seem like classic interview filler, but it is important to think back to these answers when considering a career change. Unless you’re applying for a position that takes years of studying, you can use your experience in other roles and adapt them to your new position. Your unique qualities you bring to this position can set you apart from the pack, and future employers can see your varied and diverse background as a positive and not a hinderance of the role you’re after. You obviously want to avoid looking like you are going form role to role and never settling down, but if employers can understand the reasons why you have changed career, they will see it as a positive.  Essentially, adopting the perspective that if you have no experience then you will not be hired is incredibly outdated as many employers seek personality and drive above anything else.

“You’ll start at the bottom (of the pay bracket)”

Yes, it’s very unlikely that you’ll go straight into a senior position of power and responsibility when venturing into a new work world, but there are several things to be positive about. First off, you are entering a world that you genuinely want to be part of and working your way up can provide experience and training that is vital to gaining the position of your dreams. Secondly, your experience, knowledge and understanding of work environments won’t always be overlooked, and many new employers will see them as tools to help you with your new position. You may be new to the role, or inexperienced in certain areas, but your knowledge from other fields of work will be invaluable when coming to terms with similar, but technically unknown, areas of your new role. There are also many careers where a more varied background, with lots of experience is seen as an asset, as opposed to a hindrance.

It is likely that you will take a cut in pay, but it is vital that you see the bigger picture.  Budget wisely and living within your new means will become second nature quicker than you think.  Divide your income into sections; social, household, bills etc.  This will serve as visual representation of your income so that you can see exactly what is going where and when.

Ask yourself questions.

No one should make a possible lifechanging decision without asking the hard questions first. For many people who are looking to make the change in career in their 30s, the reason is normally that they’ve lost (or never had) the passion for their current role. Ask yourself why you feel the need for a change, and more importantly what you could see yourself being passionate about.

Many people who make the jump sidestep into a very similar position and hope that things this time will be different. If you don’t have an idea of what you want to step into, write down your strengths and weaknesses, and see if that align with positions that interest you. People who work to their strengths tend to be happier employees. Also, ask yourself what you dream job is – even if it is unobtainable at this current time, knowing what roles and areas you truly care about is vital in understanding what skills you need to develop.

Side hustle your way into a new role

For many people, taking the leap into a brand-new career would be impractical without first dipping a toe into the water. Starting a side hustle doesn’t just mean opening an online shop and devoting time to it on your days off – it means developing yourself in that area in any way possible, from volunteering to part-time internships. More than ever, people are working a steady job, while maintaining a side hustle to either earn a bit extra on the side or follow on a venture that they sincerely love. Use this time to grow your experience and knowledge, dedicating yourself to certain qualities that you know are vital to the position.

Need to knows

Take your time.

  • The important thing is to plan your career transition. It is not going to happen overnight.
  • It is key not to rush into things if you want your career jump to work. Yes, this is about taking a risk, but you need to negate any fallout by having a strategy in place that covers exactly how you will manage your transition – from managing finances to gaining the right expertise and beyond.

Assess what is the biggest mistake you can make?

The most common pitfall is where people have not done their research properly and are unrealistic about their chances of being hired in their new role. You need to make sure that it is a viable option before you embark on a career change.

It’s about getting the nuts and bolts in place, think about the whole package and the specific impact the change will have on your career, your finances and your loved ones.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTheCity has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here

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