Career Change at 30: 5 Must-Know Tips
If you’re thinking about changing careers at 30, you’re in the right spot. In this article, you’ll learn whether it’s possible to change careers at 30, if it’s worth it, and how to make it happen. You’ll also uncover my top tips for switching careers at 30 and beyond.
A quick note before we dive in: If you’re later in your career and considering a transition, take a look at this article on how to change careers at 40 or 50, and this article on how to change careers at 60 and beyond.
Can You Change Careers at 30?
“Can I change careers at 30?” and “Is 30 too old for a career change?” are two questions I’ve been asked more times than I can count by job seekers.
Contemplating a career switch can be confusing, particularly with so much emphasis being placed on choosing the “right” college major, so let me be as clear as I can here:
- Yes, you can change careers at 30, even if you’ve already amassed a decade or more of professional experience.
- No, 30 is not too old to switch careers. If you’re alive, you’re likely young enough to change careers.
As a career coach who specializes in senior managers and executives in the tech industry, I’ve found it’s not uncommon for workers to make two, three, or four transitions throughout their careers. Some of these pivots are small, while others are big, like breaking into tech with a background in academia.
Is a Career Change at 30 Worth It?
Now that you know that it’s possible to change careers at 30, you might be asking yourself if switching careers is worth the effort. The following are a few questions to consider if you’re contemplating a career switch at 30 and weighing the pros and cons.
- Can you envision yourself in your current career for 20, 30, or 40 more years?
- What are you missing out on by not changing careers?
- How much is loving your career worth to you?
Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself if a career change is worth it, and whether the possibility of a meaningful career is worth the potential risks.
How to Make a Career Change at 30
So, how do you make a career change at 30? Here’s my top advice for the pivot:
1. Get as specific as possible.
One of the first steps you’ll want to take is to get as clear as possible on your target, as this will serve as your GPS moving forward.
- What’s your target job? Is the title important to you?
- Are you planning to stay in the same industry or transition to a new one?
- What are your salary expectations? Are you willing to take a cut in pay to switch careers?
This list is merely a jumping-off point as you reflect on what’s important to you in your career. I’ve detailed additional factors to consider when looking for a new job in this article.
An important note: Unless you’re entering a highly specialized industry like medicine, you don’t need to completely start over when making a career change. I’ve worked with countless clients who have pivoted their careers without having to take cuts in pay or reduce their total compensation.
2. Consider “lily pad” jobs.
As you gain clarity on your next career, reflect on the role intermediary jobs, or what I call “lily pad” jobs, may play in getting you to your final destination.
For example, if your dream job is to be a product manager at Meta, yet you have never worked in product or tech, you’ll likely need an interim role (or two) before securing a management-level role in big tech. These “lily pad” jobs might include a job at a tech startup, a more junior product role, a marketing position, or something similar that moves you closer toward your ultimate destination.
You’ll be most successful in your career switch if you make one transition (i.e. industry, job function, title, etc.) at a time, as you’ll be reducing the barriers to entry.
3. Uncover your transferable skills.
Once you narrow down your target role, you’ll want to get clear on your transferable skills and how they relate to your next position.
An effective way to practice doing this is to find a job posting that piques your interest and “massage” the language until it aligns with your experience. Then, identify an accomplishment from your career for each bullet point in the posting.
If you find that you’re missing a significant number of the requirements listed in the job posting, or that you’re struggling to come up with relevant accomplishments from your career, it might be a sign that the role is too big of a stretch, and you need another “lily pad” job to help bridge the gap.
4. Know what makes you fabulous.
Notably, transferable skills aren’t enough to land you a new job when you’re changing careers. Because you’ll be competing with “insiders,” you’ll also need to get clear on what sets you apart from other applicants (AKA your fabulousness).
Being a career changer can be one aspect of your fabulousness. If you’re pivoting from the higher education sector to tech, for instance, you could highlight your success in implementing change despite working in highly bureaucratic environments.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you find yourself struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for some help. A good place to start is to use LinkedIn to network with people who have successfully changed careers (bonus points if you can find people at your target company). Another option is to partner with a resume writer or career coach who specializes in career transitions, as they can support you in revamping the way you present your background and work experience.
Final Advice on Changing Careers at 30
Switching careers is not only possible but highly likely as you progress through life. Many of the workers I speak with find great joy and satisfaction in making strategic pivots every few years to move them closer to their dream job. You’ve got this!