You know you are going to get asked why you're changing careers, so have the right answer up your sleeve. "You should have a pre-scripted answer that comes out in the interview seamlessly,” Gareiss says. Orisich also stresses the importance of interview prep -- and she speaks from firsthand career-shifting experience. Before becoming a career coach, she worked in corporate America for 13 years. “I always recognized my ability to get offers for jobs that I technically didn’t qualify for, particularly with respect to not having a four-year degree,” she says. “But if I had an innate understanding of what was required to get the job done and could convey that to the interviewer, I could win them over.” Go ahead, channel your inner Tom Cruise (circa Jerry Maguire).
Don’t head back to school…
If you’re trying to give up your job in finance to become a neurologist, you’re destined for the classroom. (Sorry, dude.) But if you’re not chasing a STEM career, consider your skills fluid. “The majority of people that I work with don’t find themselves needing to go back to school or even take additional classes,” Osirich says. It's all about what you can bring to the table beyond your written resume. Heathfield agrees: “Education, social sciences, psychology, communications, marketing, sales -- those skills move back and forth.” Amazing! You can finally put that liberal arts degree to good use. Suck it, dad.
…but revisit your alma mater
You probably skipped those career-counseling sessions when you were in undergrad (we did too), but now’s the chance to redeem yourself. “Your college career placement office is available to you for life once you’re an alum, and they frequently have people on campus recruiting, and they may be open to older employees,” says Heathfield. Bonus? It’s the perfect excuse to revisit your glory days.
Don’t sell yourself short
Resist the temptation to take a junior-level position just to get your foot in the door -- even if you can afford it financially (lucky you). “I had a client who once hired a young woman into a position that was really junior to her capabilities,” Heathfield says. “She asked her boss for a promotion and raise at least once a week, and he reached the point where he was like, ‘Why did I hire this person?!’... Perhaps they don’t have a few of the skills specific to that industry, but they have 10 to 20 years of other experiences.” Phew, so coffee fetching is officially off the table.
Family matters (sort of)
If your family depends on your current job, ask them for their support -- but don’t put their needs first. “I have one client who moved to the US for her spouse, and made a choice in career out of sacrifice for her loved one,” says Leticia Warner, co-founder at Embodied Minds, which specializes in public speaking and life coaching services. “It led to a lot of resentment that she didn’t even realize was affecting her work and life.” Instead, Warner says, quiet fears of letting people down and go after what you want. “Another young client had studied finance at her parents’ request, despite an interest in fashion, which they wouldn’t allow,” she says. When the client finally ditched Wall Street for the garment district, she wasn't only happier in her professional life, but with her parents too. Two birds, one stone.