Sustaining Career Growth in Your 30s
In your 30s, you’re starting to find your rhythm. You’ve (hopefully) discovered your career passion and are working in a mid-level position with the promise of job growth. This time in your career is sometimes called the “sweet spot,” where you’ve found the right mix of what you like to do, what you’re good at doing, and skills that the industry needs.
If you’re still working to find that spot, try some experiments to test it out. Maybe you want to be a writer—so freelance and see if you enjoy it. Or perhaps you’re looking at graphic design—take on some clients and decide if it’s where you want to be. This also allows you to build a portfolio of work, should you decide to make a go of it full time.
Your 30s is a time to reflect on where you’ve been in your career and where you want to go. If you know it’s time to move on or up from your current job, you should:
Review your resume
You might be surprised to find that you haven’t updated it in years. Fine-tune it to be directed toward the type of career you want. You may choose to add a career statement at the top, outlining where you want to be. If you’re in a career where buzzwords frequently change, be sure that your resume reflects the latest jargon.
Add variety to your work experience
Be sure that you aren’t becoming so specialized that you’re pigeonholing your chances to get other jobs. Especially in technology-related fields, you need to have a wide range of skills that allow you to be “that person” who can innovate and take charge.
Find a mentor
Now that you’re focused on one career path, you need someone to help you learn the ropes—someone who has been there and can give advice that keeps you from making career mistakes. Your mentor should be open and honest so that you can have a real dialogue about where you want to go.
Make a big change
While changing careers may seem counterintuitive, you still have many years ahead of you in the workforce. Now is the time to do something if you’re unhappy with your career. Starting over may seem like a challenge, but education programs targeted toward working professionals make it easier to learn something new while staying at your current job. In some cases, brush-up courses are all that’s necessary to get you certified to start in a new area. When you are ready to apply for a new job, you’ll bring with you the experience and people skills gained in your previous career. Don’t underestimate the value this brings to a workplace.
Networking is important at all career levels because it opens access to information about jobs and opportunities that might not be posted publicly. In your 30s, you may find that the tables have turned and you’re the person who is helping others to get their first job. Networking can even help you to find a mentor.
No matter your age, its important to stay focused on your career goal. If your job isn’t helping you to achieve career objectives, start looking for something new. Take classes and keep learning. Network to make contacts that can lead to new jobs. Most importantly, stay true to yourself and your vision for the future—once you reach that “sweet spot,” your career can really start to take off.
By Chris Newsome