Martha Stewart Living Radio: The Radio Blog

Career Advice with Maggie: Who would you hire - an experienced career changer or a recent college grad?

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Every other week, Maggie Mistal our radio channel’s career consultant AND host of “Making a Living,” will answer all your burning job and career related questions! To ask Maggie a question, email her at or ask your question in the comments section below. Also, tune in to her show, Fridays at 4pm ET/1pm PT on Sirius 112 and XM 157.

Recently I was featured in Newsday answering questions from career changers concerned about their chances of landing a job when competing with new (and cheaper) college graduates.  Subscribers can get the full article from Newsday columnist Patricia Kitchen.  But here are the highlights for those looking to translate their skills and experience into a new field...

  • Experienced career changers have two things college graduates don't: 1) experience and 2) a strategy for their careers.  Most college grads just want a job and haven't thought much beyond that.  Employers want employees who are motivated by the work itself and not only a paycheck.
  • Entry-level jobs are not always a fit for career changers.  Most people take for granted that they have transferrable skills that translate across industries and fields.  Career changers have already built skills in communication, managing work and managing others just to name a few.  There's no need to start over at the bottom just because you have some learning to do.   Most often, a lateral move or perhaps one step back is the right transition for an experienced career changer, not an entry-level job.
  • It's never too late to make a career change into work you enjoy.  In fact some employers value experience more than others.  Take AARP's list of the Best Employers for Workers Over 50.  These employers value the dependability, work ethic and wisdom that experience brings.  Target employers who already appreciate your experience and you'll improve your chances of smooth career transition.

You can compete as an experienced career changer.  Focus on and have confidence in what you bring to the job.  Hiring managers won't care about your age if you are the best and most passionate at what you do!

Image courtesy of The American Society for Engineering Education.

Comments (6)

  • Just try to get any type of job if you are a man or woman over 50 career-changing or not. You can have the best resume, education, experience, recommendations, flexibility and "fresh education."

    Forget it.

    Most of the people I know who were VPs, technical experts, and so on and given the door at 54 stopped looking after two or three years of pounding the pavement no matter if they got their Microsoft Certificate or whatever.

    Over 25% of the people who are unemployed are native-born American citizens over 50 with college degrees or higher. (Fortune Magazine, 2005)

  • Author Comment:

    Thank you for your comment Ivan. I am sorry to hear that your experience and that of your friends has been so challenging with regards to landing jobs over 50. If technology is the field in which you and your friends are focused (as it seems from your email) you may want to look at opportunities with the government - is a useful site. It is a different and longer process than corporate but the job security is much better especially for older workers and I know there is demand for technology expertise.

    I would also welcome you and anyone you know who is struggling to contact me directly at with your particular career needs and goals so that I can share even more specific suggestions. I've worked with many people in this scenario and can be of service in helping you identify career possibilities that will work for you.

    warmest regards,

  • Thank you for the offer.

    Actually the phenomenon that began in technology (2005 article) has spread across the SIC CODE board: consumer products, retail management, medicine (!), energy, and so on.

    You are right about government jobs. I do have an older (!) friend who does work for the Senate in computer security. The government sector is now the largest single employer in the US, no?

    He was downsized from a bank because they virtually eliminated their consumer security department when they changed their "Terms and Conditions" for customers to put the onus on customers to prove a security breach. Such are contracts by adhesion.

  • You are welcome. I really would be happy to help.

    Yes, many sectors are are being challenged right now and may continue to be for some time. But that does mean all is lost. It can feel as if there aren't options but I can tell you that my clients are landing jobs and the government is not the only option for employment. :)

    I sense your frustration Ivan and would like to help you see perhaps some positive from all of these changes when you are ready.

  • I have been in the painting and faux finishing industry it seems my entire life, and I love color and painting and enjoy getting many people excited about the process and I know that MS is coming out with a paint line in Home Depot,.....I would love to become her spokes person in the Home Depot Stores, sharing information to the customers and knowledge of color and painting....I think one of the reasons Ralph Lauren products failed is their was no face or knowledge with his products....I would love to travel the states and do hands on with all the Home Depot Stores and get people excited about there homes.....I am a handsome and well liked and very approachable man.....and love the paint business.........
    all the best to you and please forward this if you can
    Many thanks
    Randy Adams

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