Career Advice – Career Change Over 40 – Is it Too Late?

Is it too late to make a career change over 40? There was a time when this might have been true and anyone giving career advice would have told you to stay where you were. But when it comes to jobs, things have changed dramatically for everyone and although some employers are a bit slow to catch on, the smart ones are employing older people.

Why is so much changing? You already know about the economy and the effect that is having on jobs. Another important factor is the changing population. More people are living longer and many people are having fewer children. So this means that in the majority of western countries, the population is aging. And, significantly, there aren’t as many young people to take their place in the labor market.

So what does this mean for you? If you are 40 or over, the first thing you need to realize is that your working life is likely to be a bit longer than you expected. But you had probably already figured that one out! You know you won’t be retiring any time soon.

With plenty of people living to 100 these days, that means around 35 or 40 years of life past the usual retirement age. And unless you have a private income, a huge pension fund or your children become incredibly wealthy, that means you will have to support yourself for all those extra years.

This information enables you to view career change in an entirely new light. If you are 40 now and are going to have to work until you are 80, you have what used to be an entire working life still ahead of you.

There are plenty of positive things about changing career in midlife. For one thing, you have around 20 years of work experience, which has taught you plenty. You have skills which can be used in many different work situations and you know what you are good at and what you enjoy doing.

So it will be easier for you to choose a new career based on interests and aptitudes. When you were in your twenties, a certain career may have held an appeal for you, but you didn’t have the experience to back up your choice. Now you do. There are also challenges involved in changing career at 40 or over.

You may need to go back to college which can be expensive and if you have been away from studying for a long time, you might wonder how you will cope. And of course you could find yourself in a classroom with a bunch of 18 year olds. But you probably won’t be the only mature student in the class and you will find that colleges are well equipped for dealing with students who have been away from education for some time.

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Career Advice – The Reason Careers Fail

Failures or shortfalls in careers do not usually result from the lack of education and training. The number one reason for such disappointments is most often not knowing “how to work”.

Said another way, the difference between winners and losers in the world of work is that achievers know how to translate their “know-what-to-do” skills into “how-to-get- things-done” strategies and actions.

People who can carry out the procedural functions associated with a job are a dime a dozen. But those who can manage people and resources to complete a successful project are in the minority.


Without common sense, the careerist is severely handicapped in driving ideas from incubation to results. He may have brilliant ideas, but unless he can move them through the organization to achieve tangible results, those ideas will die without serving a useful purpose for anyone.

Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, father of the U.S. nuclear navy, put it this way: “What it takes to do a job will not be learned from management courses. It is principally a matter of experience, the proper attitude and common sense–none of which can be taught in a classroom.”

In his groundbreaking book EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, Daniel Goleman posits: “I would argue the difference (between high achievers and also-rans) is quite often in the abilities called emotional intelligence, which includes self-control, zeal and persistence, and the ability to motivate oneself.”

That equates to common sense in my experience.

Common sense is not very common. This rare quality is much easier to see in hindsight. Some people are lucky. They seem to have been born with common sense. But most have to work to learn its rules. Common sense can be identified and embraced by observing successful careers in action. It can be learned from studying the biographies of achievers.


It is the goal of this blog and other publications from Common Sense At Work© to provide common sense career advice for ambitious men and women who want to accelerate careers.

All you read in Common Sense At Work publications (click here) is written from my real-world experiences working with a wide range of men and women from working as a common laborer in the sawmills of South Arkansas, to the power offices of the Federal government in the nation’s capital, to the elegant towers of American Express’s New York City headquarters and the sedate club rooms of Europe.

I have also interviewed scores of careerists including those just beginning their careers, middle manages and chief executive officers. I have benefited from the input of professionals who practice in the fields of management psychology and organizational dynamics. Finally, I have done exhaustive research on what has been written and said on the subject of how to get ahead in the world of work.

From these sources I have learned that Common sense is the essential ingredient in career success.

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Career Advice – Are You a Frog in Hot Water?

Only 55 percent of workers earning more than $50,000, and 45 percent of those earning less than $15,000 per year say they are satisfied with their jobs, according to a survey by The Conference Board.

What’s going on here? This is serious stuff. Those findings ought to set off alarm bells with employers and employees alike.

Job Tip: It’s a proven fact that workers who enjoy their jobs are more productive and successful; therefore, for their employers’ bottom lines benefit. At the same time, employees who find satisfaction in their work earn more, and enjoy better health, both mental and physical.

Career Advice: How do you feel about your job? If you are among the huge number of those who are “unsatisfied” with the path of your career, it’s time to get cracking with an action plan to improve your life on the job. Left uncorrected such a state of mind slowly but surely breeds frustration and ennui, which in turn sap your strength and abilities to build a successful career.

Rate Your Job Satisfaction

The first step is to take inventory of your career goals and where you stand in reaching them. Rate each of the following points on a scale of one to ten. The higher the number the more satisfied you are.

1. The total of your compensation: your paycheck, your benefits including health insurance, savings and retirement and vacation.

2. Your balance between work and time-off.

3. Your workload.

4. Your chances for advancement.

5. Your job itself.

6. Your boss relationships.

7. Your work environment.

Take the total of your ratings and divide the number by seven. Still on the scale of one to ten, how satisfied are you with your career path?

Now, move to step three by answering these questions:

1. What changes can make to raise your satisfaction level to the seven to eight range in your present job?

2. Is the shortfall in your satisfaction score due to external forces that surround your job?

3. Is your dissatisfaction of your own making?

Are You At Fault?

Career Advice: If the problems are of your own making, you must know that they will follow you wherever you go until you make corrections in your own thinking.

If you are not convinced that you can achieve a seven or eight score on your present job it’s time to consider looking elsewhere for career success.

Whatever, you do, if you are not reasonably well satisfied with your life at work take action this day.

Remember the frog. Put him in a pot of cool water and set it over a flame. The frog will frolic about happily as the water goes from cool to warm. He will continue to adapt, swimming about contentedly, even as the water begins to simmer. It is not until the water reaches the boiling point that the frog finally recognizes he is in serious trouble and tries to get out. But by that time, his strength has been sapped and it is too late.

Face the fact, you are the master of your own destiny. The reading on your satisfaction scale is the result of your own efforts.

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