21 Tips for Finding a Career After 30

Updated September 24, 2023

If you're over 30 with no career, there are many reasons why you may not have found your ideal career yet, but it's never too late. On the contrary, you're at an advantage over many younger people because you likely know more about yourself and your unique abilities and skills. You also may be less likely to take the first job that comes your way, and more confident in what kind of job is right for you.

In this article, we provide 21 tips you can use if you're trying to build a career as a 30-something.

Job hunting tips if you're 30 with no career

You may not have a career because you aren't yet sure what you want to do or what you're passionate about. You may have been job-hopping for most of your working life for various reasons, or you may feel stuck in your career and have been at one company for too long. Consider following these 21 tips to make your job hunt much more effective:

1. Figure out what you're passionate about

When you're narrowing in on a passion, still keep it broad. That's because passions and interests may change, and you may be able to pivot to a career that changes as you do. Pay attention to what you spend your time and money on, and think about topics you like to discuss with others.

2. Make note of your transferable skills

Transferable skills are those relevant skills that you can apply to any job position. Make a list of these so you can refer to them on your resume, in your cover letter and during any interviews you have. Knowing the skills you have that make you a marketable candidate can also give you the confidence you need to pursue a career in the industry you'd like to work in.

Your transferable skills may include:

  • Strong communication

  • Organization

  • Collaboration

  • Creativity

  • Listening skills

  • Analytical abilities

  • Impressive time management

  • Strong work ethic

  • Problem-solving

With these skills written down, you'll be able to apply them to any position you're in the hiring process for. You can explain to the hiring manager how your transferable skills will help you succeed in the role.

Read more: 12 Top Job Skills for Any Industry: Transferable Skills You Need

3. Go back to school

Education can open career opportunities for you, as some positions require a certain level of education or a specific degree. Before going back to school, figure out what you want to do and what's required of you to achieve it. You may not need to obtain a bachelor's degree or go to graduate school; instead, you may be able to go the less expensive path of going to community college to get your associate's degree.

Related: Best Careers To Pursue When Going Back To School at 30 and Beyond

4. Don't go back to school

While some careers may require more higher education, many professionals find it's possible to switch careers without going back to school. You can gain knowledge and skills to help you pursue a new career by completing certification programs, online workshops or courses and networking with people in your ideal industry. You can also gain relevant experience in your new field by first working part time in your preferred industry, which could turn into a full-time gig.

Related: How to Change Careers Without Going Back to School

5. Sign up with a mentor

If you know what you want to do, but have been unsuccessful at building your interests into a career, establish yourself with a mentor who can serve as a valuable guide. They can give you insight into the industry, share their own experience and may even be able to connect you to their network of professionals.

Read more: How To Find a Mentor in 5 Steps

6. Volunteer

Although volunteer opportunities do not provide you with a paycheck, they can provide you with contacts. For example, if you volunteer at your local nonprofit animal shelter, you'll get to know the employees, other volunteers and maybe even the board of directors that may important decisions on behalf of the organization. Anybody you speak with who you share your career aspirations with may be able to help you reach your goals.

Related: What are the Benefits of Volunteering? 10 Reasons to Volunteer

7. Connect with your network

Even if you don't have a career, you still have a network. Your network may include friends, family members, neighbors, previous coworkers or professors and other students you went to school with. Let your network know that you want to establish yourself in a career and see if they have any leads for positions you may qualify for.

Related: 7 Networking Tips for Getting a Job

8. Be willing to take on an entry-level position

Many hiring managers may insist that you begin as an entry-level employee before they'll promote you or offer you lateral moves toward other career paths. With the right level of commitment, you can move up in a company and build your career there for the long haul.

Related: 15 Entry-Level Jobs That Pay Well

9. Get help if you need it

Job hunting can be time consuming, especially when you're applying for multiple positions at the same time. In your 30s, you likely have other factors in your life that can hinder the amount of effort you can put forth in finding something new. If you have the ability, consider getting help for personal responsibilities so you can focus on your career. This may include childcare or cleaning services.

Related: 15 Job Search Tips for Landing Your New Position

10. Practice your elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a summary of yourself, including your experience, skills and education, that makes you a viable candidate for a position. You can use your elevator pitch in interviews or at job fairs so the hiring manager or recruiter can get to know you more.

11. Rewrite your resume

Rewriting your resume can provide you with clarity and confidence so you can figure out what you want to do, discover what you excel at and appeal to employers who may have open positions you qualify for. As you're restructuring your resume, make sure it's clean, easy to understand and read and that you're highlighting your most relevant skills.

Related: Updating Your Resume for a Career Change

12. Work with multiple recruiters

If you've gone through job boards without much success, consider working with recruiters to try to find a job that can lead to a career. Recruiters have more insight into available positions and work closely with employers to fill needs in the workplace. Some companies hire recruiting firms for specific jobs that they choose not to post on public job boards, so you may find greater success working with recruiters than going through your job hunt alone.

13. Identify how you're different from the competition

Take the time to really assess your skills and understand just what sets you apart from others who may have similar backgrounds and are applying for the same positions. Develop your unique value proposition so you can feel confident in your interviews and know that you bring something to an organization that they may not have otherwise.

14. Go to job fairs

Job and career fairs give you the unique opportunity to meet with company representatives to learn more about an organization, the open positions, what they're looking for in a new employee and more. No matter how impressive your resume and cover letter are, in-person meetings, even informal ones, provide you with the chance to share your elevator pitch and let employers know why you'd fit in well with their company.

Read more: How To Get the Most Out of Job Fairs

15. Take on freelance work

If you find that you have certain skills, but employers regularly pass over you for opportunities because you don't have a solid enough employment history in the industry, consider performing freelance work. Not only can freelance work connect you with those in the industry who can benefit from your services, but it can help grow your skills outside of a traditional work environment. You can later use this experience and include it in your resume when you're applying for jobs.

Related: How To Become a Successful Freelancer in 10 Steps

16. Relocate

One of the reasons you may not have a career yet is because of a poor outlook in your area. If you're serious about having a career, explore different regions to see if the opportunities are more plentiful elsewhere. You may need to move to where your future career is rather than looking for something where you currently are.

17. Research extensively

Especially if you have a history of moving from one position to another and not staying long at one job, make sure to research any potential new employer. Look up their reviews online from previous employees, see how their clients and customers rate them and check out their company mission and values. When you're more aware of what you're getting into, you will probably run into fewer issues and surprises when you're employed, and you may find that you stay longer and build a career there.

Related: The Complete Guide to Researching a Company

18. Identify your strengths and weaknesses

It's important to also know your strengths and weaknesses. Not only do many employers ask about them during interviews, but they can guide you in your job search so that you're applying for positions you're actually a great fit for.

Related: 39 Strengths and Weaknesses To Discuss in a Job Interview

19. Work with a career coach

Consider working with a career coach to understand how you can market your skills and what positions you're better off applying for. They may be able to identify what you've been missing in your previous application history and guide you in what you should do next.

A career coach may ask you what your passions are, what your ideal salary is, if you like working alone or with a team and much more to understand what would be an excellent fit for you. You can also ask your career coach to review your resume and role play interviews with you so you can prepare.

Related: 8 Reasons To Hire A Career Coach (Plus Tips)

20. Know what you want

While you don't have to know exactly what you want, you should have a firm idea of what you're looking for. Think about your ideal situation so you have something to aim for. Consider if you want to work in a particular industry. Think about how important it is to have quality benefits available to you from your employer. Explore the core values of the major corporations in your city. Speak to others who work at the companies you're interested in to gain first-hand insight.

Related: 70 Examples of Passions You Can Pursue in Your Life and Career

21. Try something completely new

While you may not want to continue applying for and accepting jobs that don't seem to fit in with your ideal career trajectory, you may be surprised at how much you enjoy something completely new. If you've been thinking of trying something in particular and have a feeling that you may like it, consider it and see. Once you do, you should be able to rule it out entirely and move on, or be excited about the new job that you want to build into a career.

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