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Concerned About a Career Change as an Older Worker? Here’s What You Need to Look Out For

Some well-planned steps could help get you past common obstacles of a late career move.

It’s not uncommon to find yourself having to think about a career change. If you are in your 40s or 50s, especially if you are a professional, manager, executive or technician (PMET), and having to move to a different industry or job role altogether, what exactly do you need to know before taking the plunge?

Brace yourself for challenges ahead

You’ve probably spent decades climbing the corporate ladder but a career change may mean starting from square one — a nerve-racking prospect. By following the right steps at an early stage in the job search, you can be prepared to counter any obstacles that might come your way. You can also prevent it from taking an emotional toll on you. Kwok Ling Ling, a human resources professional who wanted to move into healthcare at the age of 40, says, “At that time, I didn’t pursue it further as my children were still young, and for me to pursue private education to make that career switch would put stress on our family finances.”

What can jobseekers like Ms Kwok do in such situations?

Manage your stress level

Whether your plan to switch careers is motivated by choice or if it is forced due to a retrenchment, it is important that you do not allow stress to set in, especially if your job search is taking time. The key during this period is to not lose your sense of worth or undervalue yourself. Regular exercise helps, and research has shown that some exercise regimes can prompt the release of mood-elevating chemicals in your brain.

At the same time, tone your mental muscles by upskilling yourself. If you feel the need to develop transferable skills like personal branding or time management, look for programmes that help you develop these competencies while attached to a company. If you would like to brush up on specific competencies such as occupational therapy in the healthcare sector, there are similar programmes available to equip you with these skills as well. This is exactly what Ms Kwok did. “15 years later, I chanced upon an advertisement for a therapy aid course and I saw it as a sign for me to sign up!” she says.

Seeking professional help from a career coach

Sometimes self-doubt can be a roadblock in your job search, and you may wonder if the job you are considering is indeed the right choice for you. This is where professional help from a career coach is invaluable.

Ms Kwok speaks highly of the support she received from WSG’s Career Coaches. “I wasn’t confident that I could make this switch, but my Career Coach spoke to me about the [healthcare] sector, roles and responsibilities within the sector, and the course details so that I could make an informed decision, and continued to encourage me even after our coaching sessions were completed.”

All that dedication and help has enabled Ms Kwok to make a successful career switch to the healthcare industry. Today, at age 56, she works as a therapy aid at SASCO Integrated Eldercare Centre.


  1. Psychology Today, 1 September 2017 —
  2. TODAY Online, 19 July 2017 —
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