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Your Career at 40: Do Job Titles Matter?

Rediscover career fulfilment in your 40s. Success may be closer than you think.


So, you’re approaching or have reached your 40s. You’ve been working hard and you’re expecting a promotion any day now, a swanky new upgrade from “manager” to “director”. It’s your hard-earned ticket to the life you’ve always dreamed of, and you’re probably hoping that it comes with extra benefits too.

It’s true that having a fancy job title comes with a good dose of ego boost. After all, introducing yourself as a director of a well-known company feels more impressive. However, it begs the question — is this really your lifelong dream? Is it all just for the sake of validation? Remember, just because you’ve missed the promotion window, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re underperforming.

Having a Fancy Job Title Isn’t Everything 

While corporate job titles give your friends and family a general idea of what you do, your contribution and expertise in the corporate world are so much more than that. Honing your skills and expertise is far more important than gunning for the next shiny new title on your career path.  

Besides, having a better job title does not necessarily mean a better salary. Your promotion may come with an increment, but it largely depends on the company’s discretion. Focus on the responsibilities given to you and ask yourself — does it make you happy? Your job title isn’t your entire identity, and it shouldn’t define yourself worth. It’s also not a job security guarantee, nor does it bring ultimate fulfilment and validation in the grand scheme of career advancement.

Success in Your Career Is What You Make of It 

What makes a successful career? Is it climbing to the very top of the career ladder? Or is it simply the fact that you’re the best in your field? In theory, having an inflated job title may look good on your resume during job applications, though it’s not the only thing that matters.  

While having a fancy job title in your 40s is generally expected by society, you don’t have to be the CEO of your company to have a successful career. That’s because career success is much more than that. It’s about bringing deeper meaning to your job responsibilities, like being a good mentor to a younger colleague, effectively contributing to your company with your expertise or being an efficient problem solver.  

If there’s still opportunity for growth, there’s nothing wrong with staying in the same position for years, as long as you find satisfaction and fulfilment in it. 

In fact, some companies have been practising flat organisation, a type of organisational design characterised by a diminished business hierarchy. In a flat organisational structure, you’ll find very few levels of management between top-level executives and low-level employees. Furthermore, technological advancements have ushered in new trends and retired old approaches. The world is changing, and so is corporate culture.

Now, the Question — Are You Happy in Your Career? 

Time for a mid-career cocktail, shaken with a generous splash of honest self-reflection. Assessing career satisfaction is like conducting a performance review for yourself. What are your top skills now? Are you able to strategise an entire campaign, while delegating tasks efficiently among your junior team members? Or have you become an expert at winning top clients at every business pitch?  

If you're feeling stagnant, it's time to identify what needs a bit of changing. Are you following a dusty old blueprint inherited from your 22-year-old self? The aspirations of your younger self may not be as relevant to you now. After all, you're not the same person from 20-odd years ago. Take a pause and give yourself a good dose of authentic self-evaluation. Perhaps it’s time to move away from past aspirations and make new goals, ones that truly reflect who you are today.

Approaching 40s 2

If you find that your current career path no longer serves you, there’s nothing wrong in switching career paths. Successful career advancement isn’t always linear. Some, like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, find success in their 20s. Others, like Vera Wang who started out as a figure skater and journalist before pivoting to the fashion industry, experienced a diverse career path before discovering success in their 40s.  

According to research by Pierre Azoulay, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the average age of business founders is around 40 years old. If a career pivot is what you’re looking at, try identifying transferable skills and pursue a new interest. Should you find that corporate life isn’t for you, it’s never too late to start your own business. 

Career satisfaction isn't a one-size-fits-all suit. It's a custom-tailored masterpiece, woven with threads of passion and purpose. Finding fulfilment in your career should always be the ultimate goal. Your career is more than just a job title. Harness the wealth of your professional expertise, and set your own expectations. You are empowered to sculpt your unique definition of triumph and set your own career goals.

Don’t Just Contemplate Advancement — Seize the Opportunity and Make Informed Decisions About Your Career Growth 

It’s never too late to chart a course towards self-improvement. If you’re looking to upskill with a Master of Business Administration Online, our devoted Education Counsellors stand ready to furnish you with comprehensive information, guiding you towards a brighter, more empowered professional future. Schedule your FREE consultation today and pave the way for a more robust and fulfilling career path.