LightsFor many years now, we’ve watched a culture of almost continuous restructuring and contingency work displace the job-for-life. Rather than staying at a single company for most of our careers, today we have an average job length of just over four years.

It’s not just individual jobs that have come under threat, but entire career paths. We live in an era where entire professions are being supplanted by rapid technological innovation and automation. Not only can we no longer expect a job for life: We may not even be able to expect one career for life.

It’s very likely that most us will have second careers, and some of us may even have third or fourth careers. Despite this fact, much of the career advice one finds on the Internet and elsewhere focuses on how to launch your first career. In my opinion, it’s high time we started talking about how professionals can start their second or third careers. Today, then, I offer six tips on that very subject:

1. Learn From Your First Career

Launching a second career means more than simply doing the exact opposite of your current career. You may even like some aspects of your current career, and you don’t have to discard them entirely.

Rather, what you should do is take a look at your current career and identify the things you like and the things you dislike. Make a list of the likes and dislikes, and then seek out a second career that retains the likes and dispenses with the dislikes.

2. Select Your New Career Based on Your Well-Prepared Career Goals

Before selecting a new career, you need to clearly set out your new career goals. For example, millions of Americans between the ages of 44 and 70 are looking for “encore careers.” These are second careers that combine personal meaning, social impact, and, levels of income that are consistent with or higher than a person’s income in their previous career. Younger career-changers may also be looking for such encore careers, or they may be driven by desires like increased income, job satisfaction and engagement, and employability.

Once you are crystal clear on your career goals, you can go about choosing a new career path that best aligns with these goals.

3. Beware Industries and Professions Where Jobs Are in Terminal Decline

WaterWe live in volatile times: Globalization and increasing automation mean that many industries will experience massive reductions jobs over the next 10-20 years.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides forecasts about declining and rising industries over the next decade. A recent Oxford Martin School study similarly surveys the jobs that are most vulnerable to automation in the coming years. I highly suggest career-changers spend some time studying these resources to ensure that the new careers they choose don’t disappear a few years down the road.

4. Select a Career path Where There Jobs and Salaries Are Expected to Grow

Related to the previous tip, career-changers should try to get into career paths where the escalator is going up, not down. You can find out which professions have the most growth potential using the sources presented above.

5. Leverage Your Connections

Changing careers isn’t easy, but career-changers do have at least one advantage over first-timers who are new to the working world: their networks. Most career-changers have likely built powerful networks of high-level contacts over the course of their first careers. They can leverage these networks to find new opportunities in new career paths.

Remember, studies show that candidates who are referred to an employer are much more likely to be called to interview and offered a job. As a career-changer, your personal and professional is the secret weapon that can give you an edge over those who are just starting out. Use it.

6. Obtain a Relevant Certification to Boost Your CV and Demonstrate Commitment.

A great way to prepare yourself for your new career and to show potential employers that you are committed to your second career path is to obtain a relevant certification via night school or online learning. Taking the time and effort to engage in professional development will prove to employers that you are dedicated and ready to give your new career all that you have. Employers will look favorably on this, and you’ll be more likely to land interviews and jobs as a result.


Making a career change can be difficult, but it’s also increasingly becoming the norm. Starting a second career isn’t the same as starting your first, but if you follow these tips, you’ll position yourself for success on your new professional path.

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