How to Make a Major Career Shift at 30

Smart ways to make the big shift

By Claude Reyes

How to Make a Major Career Shift at 30
People approaching 30 or in their early 30s, raise your hand if you somewhat believe that it’s too late for you to pivot and start anew in a different career. The truth is, many of us are stuck are in “career hell” because of a decision made by a completely different version of ourselves. 

Some people are lucky enough to know exactly what they want early on, but for the rest of us, it may take years of being stuck in the same old job for us to realize that the dissatisfaction that we’re feeling isn’t just going to go away, or isn’t something to just bear with. It’s our gut telling us we’re just not fit for the job.

However, most of us won’t ever take the leap into the unknown for a number of reasons. Our growing responsibilities. Our investment in the job that we’ve toiled over for years. But mostly it’s fear, isn’t it? Fear of going out of our comfort zone, fear of failure, and fear of starting over from scratch. 

But if our 20s is the time for us to be carefree, our 30s is the time for us to make brave and bold choices. Most of us will be working until we’re in our 60s anyways. So in the large scheme of things, making a drastic change at 30 (or maybe at 40 even) shouldn’t seem like such a big deal. 

You don’t have to make a blind decision, though. Here are smart ways to make the shift that will allow you to leverage on your age, skills, and professional experience:

1. Don’t just quit your current job. Use it to your advantage

People in their 30s have more responsibilities and a lifestyle to keep. So it’s reasonable for you to want to keep your job even if it’s killing you inside. But if you really want to make a change, you shouldn’t just let it go completely. Instead, work on the side on what it is you truly want to do and give yourself time to ready your finances so that when you feel prepared to take the leap, you’re ready mentally, emotionally, and financially as well.

2. Grow your network

When preparing to take on a major career shift, you should widen your circle. Part of stepping out of your comfort zone is looking for people who are in the industry that you’re looking into. Ask them about the ins and outs of the career you’re trying to break into. Seek their help. You’ll find that kindred spirits are more than happy to share their expertise as long as you ask.

3. Assess yourself

One of the myths that stop people in their 30s from making the jump is the idea that you’ll have to start at the bottom when you switch gears. While it is true that you won’t be at the same level as you are in the job you’ve worked at for close to a decade, the soft skills you’ve mastered and your professionalism give you an edge over total green horns. So get to know yourself, notice your strengths in the workplace, and reflect on how you can transfer them to the one you’re aiming for. 

4.  Ignore the naysayers. And that includes your inner critic as well

Even the most well-meaning people in your life will tell you that what you’re doing might potentially be a big mistake. But remember, that all comes from concern and fear. Those well-meaning people might even include you. But if you’ve done your homework and feel ready to commit to it, nothing and no one should stop you from making the shift.

Claude Reyes writes for a variety of lifestyle publications and works for a film outfit. She loves watching movies alone, going on long commutes while listening to podcasts, and binge-reading novels whenever she feels too inundated with being in front of a computer all day. She dreams of seeing her script made into a film soon and mastering Nihongo on the side.