How to Boost Your Career When You’re Over 50: 7 Key Steps

Adults studying together at City Lit


If you’re a professional in your 50s, then navigating career growth later in your working life might seem like a challenging prospect. However, it’s also an ideal time to leverage the skills, experience and wisdom that you have acquired over the years. The key is to embrace a variety of strategic approaches for breathing new life into your career.

City Lit, the UK’s largest adult education college, specialises in equipping people with the skills needed to excel at their jobs and move into new ones. Here are seven expert tips from City Lit on how to excel as a mature professional.

1. Set attainable goals

Are you looking to move into a leadership position, follow your passions or find a job that better suits your needs closer to retirement? Then start by setting clear, attainable goals to steer yourself in the direction that most satisfies you.

This process involves breaking your goals down into smaller, more manageable chunks that feel achievable. Short-term goals empower you to track your progress and can be a lot easier to manage around other commitments. Plus achieving them brings a sense of momentum that will motivate you to keep moving forward.

2. Keep growing your skills

It’s never too late in your career to develop your skill set. Continuous learning is a way to ensure that you stay ahead at work and remain up to date with industry developments. So why not boost your existing knowledge by embarking on a course of study?

Taking a further education course —either online or in-person — can equip you with the core skills needed to progress professionally. It’s also a way to gain new qualifications and certifications.
Or say you have a business but aren’t sure how to market it to younger generations. You might want to consider taking a course in social media marketing or similar. This could be the missing link to taking your business to the next level.

3. Never stop networking

Developing your network is a vital part of growing professionally at every stage of your career. It’s important to keep attending industry events, engaging with other professionals and reconnecting with former colleagues.
However, establishing new networks as you get older can be tricky. That’s why taking a professional development course can be a great way to meet new people. That way, you can connect with like-minded individuals from all walks of life who might have similar goals to you. Signing up for a college course can help you to build vital contacts who might support you in your career.

4. Find a mentor — and be a mentor

Mentorship is an important part of professional life and there is no age limit on having one. If you have a specific career goal then it’s very likely that someone else has successfully walked the same path and can offer invaluable advice. A mentor can help you to set achievable goals, avoid various pitfalls and stay focused on your vision. It’s never too late to find one.
Plus given your own experience, you might also find fulfilment in being a mentor yourself. There are many young professionals (whose shoes you were likely once in) looking for guidance on their career journeys. By supporting them you will also be boosting your CV, as mentorship experience can demonstrate that you’d be a fit for a leadership role.

5. Remain confident in your abilities

With the workplace constantly developing and young prodigies seemingly appearing every few minutes, it can be easy to lose confidence in your abilities. However, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate your wealth of experience.

The chances are that you’ve been around the block a couple of times in your career and learned a lot in the process. That is why it’s important to reflect on your past experiences and the expertise you’ve gained during your working life. Sometimes, looking at how far we’ve come can remind us that we have it within us to go much further.

6. Pursue your interests — you never know where they’ll take you

Exploring your hobbies and interests can keep life varied and exciting — plus it can lead to flashes of insight about possible new career directions. Whether it’s diving deeper into a field you love or venturing into uncharted territories, developing potential passions can point the way to what’s next in your working life.
For instance, you might be interested in psychology and decide to take an evening class on the topic. In the process, you could realise that you’d like to progress to a counselling course. Eventually, you might decide to switch careers entirely into being a therapist — and all because you followed that initial thread of interest.

7. Be open to change at any age and stage

It’s more than possible to switch career in your 50s and beyond. Jack O’Neill was a headmaster who decided to take early retirement. Not yet ready for the slower pace of life at 55, Jack decided to sign up for a Massage Therapy taster class at City Lit, before progressing to a diploma in the field.
He now runs his own massage business and volunteers across several sites across London. In Jack’s words, “It’s never too late to try it!”

What Is City Lit?

Based in central London and online, City Lit offers career-boosting courses on a wide range of topics, including marketing, social media, and digital skills. Ofsted rated City Lit as Outstanding in 2023.
Many of our courses take place in the evenings and at weekends, making it easy for professional people to develop new skills.

Ready to take your next step? Browse our wide variety of career development courses

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