How to Change Careers in Your 30s

So, you hate your job. But not just like, hate your job – like how normal people hate their job – you LOATHE it. I’m talking pit in your stomach, shaky hands, hair pulling, hot tears, warm cheeks hate your job. Or maybe you’ve worked so hard to get where you are, but now that you’re there, you realize you hate your dream job. Thinking about a career change in your 30s, or really any age, is scary, scary business.

I. Feel. You.

Which is why I’m telling you that you definitely do not have to stay where you are.  I totally understand if you feel like you do – we all have responsibilities. Between mortgages, student loans (BITE ME RIGHT), children (not there yet but I can only imagine, mamas), spouses with shopping problems (yes, boys shop too), and furry friends (my cats are better than yours) – you may really feel anchored.

But if you’re willing to play it out, let’s discuss the steps you would need to take for changing careers in your 30s and beyond.

And if you’re skeptical about my knowledge on this topic – I get it. I started Blush Life Coaching at a young age and have stuck with it ever since. But if you know anything about me – you know my husband left his prestigious job as an associate at a big law firm in Texas and moved to Los Angeles with barely any leads at the ripe age of 29.


But guess what? He’s doing just fine. So let’s dig in.

A Personality Test Will Tell You What Career You Should Be In

No no no I’m not going to make you take a graded test. Instead I’m talking about one of those career personality tests. My personal favorite is the MBTI (I am a walking advertisement for Carl Jung), but there are others. DISC is a great one, Strengths Finder, even the Enneagram if you will.

I created a quiz to help you find the best careers for your personality type. But seriously, take multiple tests. Take as many as you can. Learn about yourself to the exponential degree. The more you know about yourself – the easier this transition is going to be.

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Do Your Research

I have a common phrase in my coaching sessions: “Chill honey! Your 20s are for trial and error.” 

And wow if this isn’t true! When you’re in your 20s, you can galavant from job to job without a second thought. Millennials on average stay at their current job for no more than three years.

Think about that – ON AVERAGE.

So that’s including all of your responsible friends (Caroline!) who have stayed at their job since day dot. Meaning, a lot of you are barely averaging 12 months. Good for you. But that’s not how it really goes in your 30s. While it’s more than acceptable to continue to lilypad from job to job in order to secure raises (yes, that works), we need a niche. We need (some) security.

So it is mega, mega, mega important that you do a healthy amount of research before pulling the trigger. And while this sounds sOoOoOoO obvious – those of you who are actually experiencing this hellish state will know what I mean when I say it is really hard to do ANYTHING but hate your job when you are totally zonked out. But you are going to have to muster the small amount of healthy mental energy you have left and throw it into research.

(also if you were interested in becoming an entrepreneur – I also wrote about the shitty parts of that, too. You’re welcome!)

What to Actually Read

I want you to get dirty with it. I’m talking reddit AMA, Quora, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Yahoo Forums (RIP) – the gnarly ones. Sure, you can peek into Business Insider or the WSJ – but I really want you to read from the actual PEOPLE in the professions instead of reporters writing about things based off stats. You are not a statistic, you’re a person, and I’d rather you get the information from another real person.

Feel free to start big, too. My husband started with “film.” And if that isn’t just the most vague, ridiculous starting point – I don’t know what is. I mean did he want to direct? Act? Manage? Produce? What else is there? I don’t remember??

So yes – he did read IndieWire and The Hollywood Reporter and Variety and other trades from the field. But he was also digging through podcast after podcast and slowly but surely crawled through the inner crusted core of Reddit – and BAM! – he decided upon a path. Well, actually not BAM! It took months.

Eight, to be exact.

And once he found it, he knew that was the answer, so it was actually worth that annoyingly long wait.

Work That Network

I hate that word. I hate it so much. Same with “start a dialogue” and “dial it in” (BAAAAAARF) and “synergy” and other stupid phrases that corporate people like to say because they can’t think of anything better.

But unfortunately for every introvert out there – networking works. And you’re going to have to do it if you want the best opportunities,

But this isn’t *just* for getting your name out there. It’s also for research. Let’s revisit Andrew (husband, keep up) again. While he had decided on the right path for his entertainment industry endeavor – there were still options within that niche. There were multiple places for him to try and get hired, and he needed to know…

1) If he had any connections at any of them,
2) Which best fit his interests, and
3) What to expect if he actually got hired.

Unfortunately that kind of stuff is usually not displayed on Quora by a good samaritan. You have to actually leave the house to talk with people.

Not every networking date you have will be worth it, by the way. Some will be a ginormous waste of time. But this is a numbers game. (Again, so sorry introverts!). You might have five boring dates to get one incredibly valuable one. And that’s just a bitter pill you have to take if you want to get what you’re after.

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Getting over the Fear of Networking

Quick aside – networking can be scary. I get it. And you might feel exceptionally needy. For those of you who LOVE! NETWORKING! SO! MUCH! feel free to skip this.

For the rest of you – here are a few quick pointers to get over yourself.

  1. Most people will be rather flattered that you asked them to coffee to talk about their life. Very rarely do we as humans get to feel special. You maybe just made someone’s day!
  2. Professional relationships are beneficial for all. You may just be the next medium-big thing in the new field, and years down the road you could do a solid for the person you’re about to sip a latte with. Have faith that you can return the favor later.
  3. Half the population are extroverts and actually enjoy talking with new people. I know! Insane. But they do so whatever.
  4. Most people had help to get where they are today. Don’t deprive someone of the opportunity to pay it forward.

Mentally Prepare

Ok, so you have researched and networked and have a lead. Fantastic! Now comes the scary part.

You are going to be starting over. Your salary is probably going to change (if not, how on earth did you pull THAT off?). You aren’t going to be the big fish in a big/small pond anymore. You’re going to be entering into a new niche/company/world/whatever and you will no longer have all of this incredible experience to back you up. It’s a vulnerable place to be.

So mentally prepare yourself for it. Understand that you might be sacrificing a lot in order to do this. If your lifestyle doesn’t drastically change (again, tell me HOW), then your overall self-image probably will. This is all fine and well – sometimes happiness requires a bit of sacrifice and you will be much better off in the long-run for this change. But for now, please do the work.

One more thing – you’re probably going to be so distracted by the thought of NOT hating your job anymore, that you will frivolously dismiss any changes as “easy” compared to the hell you’re in today. Do not listen to yourself. Please, please, please acknowledge that you might have a long road ahead of you – and that’s ok! This is essential. Otherwise, you may be a quarter of the way into your new life and back out because RARRR THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU SIGNED UP FOR! 

Don’t do that. Write out a pros/cons list. Talk with others about it. Create a new budget. Whatever you have to do, get comfortable with your future reality.

Seek Help from Professionals

If you’re about to embark on this all alone – oh, hunny. I have all the feels for you. And all the questions! Starting with…why??

This is going to be a massive transition with a lot of moving parts (girl, this blog post is long). So you should probably enlist the help of a professional. Yes, yes, yes – I do have a company that offers this sort of support and I 100% think you should join to work with one of my life coaches to secure a healthy mind throughout this process. But there are other professionals like counselors and executive coaches who can help, too. No matter what you choose – make sure you aren’t isolated during this transition.

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Financially Prepare

Financially prepare for the worst. It may take awhile to find this new job and your current job might get the sense you’re not happy anymore and begin the talks of transition. You may take a huge pay-cut when you actually find the new job. You may not get it right the first time and end up on the job hunt again after securing this new endeavor.

Yes, I sound like chicken little and the sky is definitely not falling but I just don’t want you to add stress to yourself when you are already stressed out.

If you’re addicted to Postmates, quit that shit. Follow some cooking blogs, get your dusty old crockpot out and get to work. Paint your own damn nails. Get a round brush and quit blow-outs. And for the love of GOD, stop buying COFFEE. It’s HOT BEAN WATER. The markup is RIDICULOUS. Make it at home or only drink it at work. End of story.

Don’t skimp on the essentials – the things that ease your mind and soften your heart. I’m not going to list those out because those are personal and only you know what those are! But the rest, come on girl. Buck up and put some money away for your own sanity!

Polish Your Resume

I don’t care if you are the Elon Musk of resumes – send your resume out to *at least* five people to get a second opinion. They can catch typos and spelling errors, help you expand on areas you felt too shy to do yourself, re-format, or add a fun touch of flare to make you stand out. Even though you are a grown ass woman and cannot be reduced to a single sheet of black and white paper – your resume still needs to be absolutely banging. Don’t skip on this.

I used to work in HR (yes, I had a corporate job!!!!!) and we would THROW resumes into piles that had anything remotely wrong with them. Did I enjoy doing this? No…I worked for monsters – but at least I learned a thing or two so I could help my clients out later.


So what we are not going to do, is we are not going to write ourselves off from every job because we don’t have the “correct experience.”

It’s not your job to decide if you’re qualified for something or not. It’s HR’s job.

And yes, while I did throw many a resume in the gar-bahge because the correct experience was not listed – who cares? I was getting paid to do that. And it’s not like I was totally put out. Do not worry about the feelings of Human Resources. Focus on yourself.

And if you’re about to counter with “well it’s a waste of time to apply” — uMmMmMmMm it’s more productive than hating your job amiright?

You can’t go back and get a different degree. You can’t go back and change your first job. You can’t go back and intern elsewhere. Your experience is what it is – and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. That may mean you have to start with an entry level position (do you think Andrew just pranced into Hollywood as a VP lololol), and that’s MORE than FINE. But apply for whatever looks interesting to you.

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Getting Creative with Experience

Ok so you have like, almost a decade of experience or more at this point. And to you, none of it is relevant to starting a career in your 30s. Right? Wrong.

Get creative girlfriend. Find the similarities between your old career life and your new career life and make that connection! Use your old experience as a launching pad to get into something “warmer” to what you want to do. Dance with the one that brung ya, ya know? If you need a spinmaster at this, start asking your network about it. Get some outside perspective. But make sure your story sounds cohesive – because it absolutely is possible.

Bend Your Current Position

Ok, your job sucks – but at least it’s providing you a paycheck during the interim, yeah? And you’re going to have to stick with it for a bit until your next jump pans out. So for the meantime, let’s make your job work for you.

Get clever with it. Think of ANY ways you can drive your current position to your future position. For instance, as my husband was bored to tears redlining contract after contract and recording his entire existence into six minute increments (shoutout to you lawyers – what a rough life), he found a way to meander his way into film finance.

That’s right. His law firm happened to have some film clients. They didn’t do any of the fun stuff – again, it was just contracts – but he managed to get one of the partners to cut him in on some of the work. He then got to attend SXSW in Austin, and even got flown to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City (and yes, this was our first date!).

(No I’m not kidding.)

His work in film finance has helped him some out presently, but what was way more helpful was being able to say he was already in the “film industry.” Ok, fine, film adjacent. But he was able to string together some consistency, which was absolutely ideal.

Shortcut the System

Your suspicions are correct: very rarely do people get job interviews from applying on Yes, there’s always that magical Cinderella story where the lovely lady applies for a random job through Monster and lands straight into career euphoria.

But chances are, that ain’t gonna happen.

Sure, by all means, apply for those jobs. It’s two clicks and you’re done. But what you should REALLY be focusing on is your network getting you a job.

HR is way more inclined to hire someone whose resume was submitted by a current employee. They hired said employee, so why wouldn’t they want to hire another person similar to them? Also, why WOULDN’T they want someone else to do their job for them?? Dreamland.

Your network should be passing your resume around like a bottle of wine at a boring party. It should be in the hands of ANYBODY worthwhile. And, once you secure an interview (because your chances are MUCH higher), someone should call on your behalf to sing your praises.


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Follow Up

So apparently handwritten thank you notes are back in style!

I thought those only happened when you were like 10 years old and had a birthday party and for your old relatives at Christmas. But no, apparently they have taken over the job market like whoa, and you need to get in on it.

After an interview, send a lovely thank you letter to your interviewer (office address, don’t be creepy please). If handwritten notes aren’t your thing, then AT LEAST send an email. If they didn’t give you their business card, find it online or from the person who referred you to this job.

There was an article that circulated about a woman who wouldn’t hire any potential candidate unless they sent a follow up thank you note. A lot of people were pissed about it – because not everyone knows to do this. It brought up concepts of privilege and just being an asshole in general.

But unfortunately – it’s true. I didn’t like the practice when I was in HR, either. In fact, I hated it. There were so many candidates I wanted to hire who I just never heard from again, even when I strongly hinted to reach out to me (I would literally say PLEASE FOLLOW UP WITH ME PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE). But I couldn’t hire them if I didn’t have proof they wanted the job. My manager wouldn’t allow it.


So, don’t fall into this trap. I know it’s BS, but follow up. Follow up a lot. Show them you want this job. You never know what dumb HR policy a company has in place. No one is going to not hire you because you aggressively went after a job. You might lose out for other reasons – but never for that. Being aggressive signifies that you are drinkin’ that Kool-Aid, and that’s what *every* company wants.

A Note of Encouragement

You can do this, bebe. You really, really can. You deserve to be happy, and you’re willing to put in the work to get there. It may not be easy, but that’s why people become life coaches! We are here to support you, guide you, listen to you, validate you, and encourage you. I want what is BEST for you, and if you think that means leaving your job to pursue something exciting and scary all at the same time – then I believe you. And you owe it to yourself to try.

Go show them who’s boss.

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