Underrated Superpowers of Midlife Career Changers, According to Hiring Managers
When you jump into a new career later in life, it can feel like you're scrambling to catch up. But all your experience actually puts you ahead of the game.
The grown-ups are starting over.
Before the pandemic, the average career-switcher was 39 years old. Since the pandemic, longing for a mid-career reset has become so widespread that 63% of millennials aged 25-40 plan to look for a new job this year.
Folks are on the hunt for more flexibility, better pay, and more rewarding work.
If you’re thinking about making a career change in your 30s, 40s, or 50s, you’re in good company: nearly half of mature workers change careers at least twice. But jumping back into the job market can feel really intimidating — especially when you're competing against optimistic twenty-somethings with fresh degrees and technological savvy.
"It can be a little shocking to go from being the expert in the room to being the newbie," said Adam Tiller, who left his career as a philosophy professor to become a software engineer at Google.
"But also, being a total beginner again is awesome: You are so new to everything that every day you make clear and perceptible improvement, which is deeply satisfying. And once you get over the learning curve, it becomes clear that you have a lot of experience to offer that your younger colleagues haven't acquired yet."
The trick to landing that first job in a new industry is knowing what your superpowers are as a more mature applicant, says The Energists CEO Jon Hill.
With that in mind, here are eight secret strengths that midlife career switchers can leverage on the job market.
Eight secret strengths midlife career switches can leverage on the job market
"Late career-changers tend to have a strong sense of motivation and enthusiasm towards their new profession. They might have less technical expertise at first, but the soft skills they possess and their hunger for development are surprisingly high. Because they choose their second careers from a place of logic and maturity, they know what they are capable of and work harder than the average employee."
“Mature employees often bring a unique kind of vision and enthusiasm to their role that other employees do not. That’s likely because they have finally figured out what they are truly passionate about, and are doing what they actually want to do. This is a big step — and often, a risky one — which makes it exciting.
You should emphasize your excitement in interviews; employers are looking for people with drive and passion.”
“One of the main cases against hiring late bloomers is that their creativity has run dry. But in truth, I have found that while young people are good at coming up with half-baked ideas and pursuing them wildly, older folks tend to be better at thinking their ideas through — a result of a lifetime of experimenting. Their creative insights are more actionable.”
“People who have already worked in diverse settings tend to have a much broader perspective. I think that’s a significant reason why late bloomers are more innovative and more creative: their backgrounds often condition them to think outside the box.”
“Based on my experience from hiring a wide variety of people, older candidates are more professional and have more developed leadership capabilities. This makes them a good fit for managerial roles. Because of this, I often give mature hires more responsibilities, and they tend to get promoted very quickly.”
“I am a recruiter and a career coach. In my line of work, resilience is one of the best qualities I have seen in midlife career switchers. It definitely takes a heavy dose of grit to pivot into a new career later in life. Employees willing to make such major changes to optimize their lives will show up with an open mind, a thirst for learning, and the ability to adapt to new environments and situations.”
“A later-career candidate has seen and experienced more things during their time in the industry than someone just starting out. Whatever the situation, [career-switchers] are more likely to have experienced something similar in the past, which helps them make decisions quickly and with more confidence.”
— Jon Hill, CEO, The Energists
Hiring managers increasingly recognize the value that midlife career changers bring to the table. So if you’ve been wondering: “is it too late for me to pursue a new path that I love?” the answer is a resounding no.