How to Identify Skills You Can Use For a Career Change At (or Even After!) 50

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Are you looking to make a career change at (or even after) 50? If so, you’re probably hoping to find a position that’s a better fit for who you are now as you head toward retirement. 

You want to do something interesting, fulfilling and dare I say it even enjoyable, that will set you up for what happens for the next 5-20 years!! You’ve paid your dues in the roles that fulfilled a need, whether that was financial, ambition-based, circumstance-driven, or a combo of these, and now it’s time to work out how that plays out moving forward.

It’s easy to feel pigeon-holed by our past roles, constrained by what we are used to doing every day. Still, chances are, you now have less direct responsibility for others in life; any kids you had have grown up. 

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You’ve got more room to maneuver in terms of decision-making just for you, so now’s your opportunity to broaden your perspective and be a little more open to curiosity.

Your new career could be:

  • Starting your own business
  • Retraining for a different type of role
  • Decreasing hours to allow for more ‘you’ time
  • Increasing opportunities to volunteer
  • Becoming more creative (something many traditional job roles stifle)
  • Traveling less for work, traveling more for pleasure
  • Using your work as a medium for traveling more

Whatever you want to create for yourself over the next while, now is the time to start getting your plan together and start taking action to move you towards it.

So how do you figure out what new careers are best suited to your current skills?

Woman listing her skills from all her previous jobs in preparation for a career change at 50

List what you know – everything!

Sit down and list all the skills, experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years. This isn’t a five-minute job, but it really is the best first step. 

Spend some time each day for a week to pick a position from your resume, and list the skills you used in it. Then, move on to all your hobbies or life opportunities and list what experience you have gained from them until you have a comprehensive picture of your complete skill set.

Aim to be as specific as you can. Let’s not have any items like ‘IT skills’ – what IT skills? Break it down.

Focus on what you enjoy doing and forget about the rest!

It’s almost impossible at this point in our lives to convince ourselves of the benefits of doing things we don’t want to do. It’s even harder to sell an employer on your ability to do something you don’t enjoy.  

Decide what stuff you DO enjoy doing and focus on that.

Go through your list of skills and cross out anything you don’t want to be doing – simple as that.

If you love a bit of color-coding, go for a traffic light system and highlight the things you really DO want to be regularly doing, the things you’re ok with, and things that are no-nos.

Identify Your Strengths

Take your list of the tasks you want to be doing and do a realistic scoring 1-5 (1 being poor and 5 being amazing) of how adept you feel you currently are at each skill. If you needed to complete a task in that particular area tomorrow, how confident would you feel about it?

Identify what attributes (qualities or characteristics) these tasks require and jot these attributes down. 

Find out what others think

Be brave and go one step further – ask 3 -5 people who know you (from a mix of situations, work, and personal life) what they would say your top 3 strengths/positive attributes are (not physical).

Review what they come up with in comparison to what you identified. Identify common themes emerging or explore the different aspects your friends see in you.

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Define your superpowers!

Identify your zone of genius – your superpowers!

That sweet spot of the stuff that you are good at AND that you have a passion for!

Once you know those superpowers, you can determine HOW you should use them and showing the world their value!!

Photo of author

Alison Whelan

As a Career Transition Coach & Development Trainer who focuses on working with people 45+, Ali is focused on sharing her 30+ year knowledge and experience to support you to gain the clarity and courage you need to boldly move into the career of your dreams through identifying what you really want, creating self-belief to go out and get it and identify the practical strategy to get you there.

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