New year, new you? As cliche as that saying is, this might be a great opportunity for you to start thinking about a career change, and what better place to start than where you spend most of your time: the workplace! There were around 6.4 million job openings at the closure of December 2019; why shouldn’t one of them be yours?
You may have seen statistics suggesting that the average person changes careers 3-7 times in their lives, but this can be a somewhat unclear statistic due to the unclear distinction between a “career change” versus a “job change”. Merriam-Webster defines a job as “a regular remunerative position”. A career, on the other hand, is defined as “a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling”. Thus it can mostly be understood that a job change is undertaken by someone only looking for a new place to work, while a career change is undertaken with some degree of intention, planning and permanence. A move to a new industry, or a subfield within your current industry, are more commonly considered to be career changes.
A career change can often bring significant benefit to your life, but should not be taken lightly: it is a radical shift in your daily regimen and deters from the assumed “career path” often shown in traditional media. But if you are unsatisfied with your current work, or feel you may be more satisfied elsewhere, there are plenty of reasons to consider this big transition.
When to Consider a Career Change
People change jobs for all kinds of reasons, but a full-scale career transition is somewhat more significant. But don’t wait until a world-shattering event forces you to reconsider your career: it is recommended that you take stock of your professional life on a regular basis to ensure that you do not find yourself caught out by circumstances without any shelter. If any of the following apply to you, it might be time to consider a career change:
You feel you’ve achieved what you can in your current career and have no prospects of significant upward mobility.
One common benefit of career change is the ability to gain expertise in a brand new field, thus expanding your knowledge base, and to meet a whole new group of people. A feeling of pursuing your personal potential is common for transitioners, and a career change may be necessary for you to achieve your professional goals.
Your job does not fulfill you.
Since work is where we spend most of our time, it is important that we have a job that is, to some extent, personally fulfilling. This does not mean that you should be delighted 100% of the time at work, but if you derive no value from your employment, it may be time to consider a career change.
Your job does not provide what you need.
Sure, you have work, but at some point in your career it will be essential for you to consider what you need from your professional life- be it money, flexibility, purpose, or something else entirely. Put together what your ideal working life would look like, and research jobs that can provide that.
You simply want to try a new field.
Maybe you’re happy with your company, but you feel burnt out on your current role. This is a great position to be in! If you have a good relationship with your employer, you might be able to transition into a new role with relatively little fuss; this may be the easiest way to make a career change, if you can get your management on board. Participate in tasks and work across departments to get a better idea of where you might find your niche.
You can’t imagine doing this every day for the rest of your life.
No, not the menial parts of your job; as you age and progress, the details of your job will change while the greater picture may not. If you go to work every day feeling suffocated or paralyzed by your work, it may be time to go with the trend and prioritize your mental health. You should assess whether you are experiencing burnout or it’s just time for a career change. Consider what makes you happy, or unhappy, and plan accordingly.
What to Do Before a Career Change
Having read the above, do you think you would benefit from making a career change? Here are some important insights to consider before taking the leap.
Consider what about your current work leaves you unfulfilled.
Take stock of your tasks and categorize what makes you feel happy, indifferent, or unhappy. Write down your interests, however broad, and the things you like to do. This will help you shape your exploration of other jobs.
Refine your list with research.
Look up roles and industries that generally match the positive items on your list. This may be as simple as “jobs that use spreadsheets” or as broad as “corporate careers that let you help people.” Begin to define your goals.
Assess your skills.
Plan to develop your skill set through freelancing, personal development courses, certificate programs or education. Make contact with people who work in other fields to understand what their jobs entail in real time and to understand the skills you would need to develop in order to work with them. If any capture your interest, consider trying them out.
Write a career action plan (or several!)
Once you have more insight into what kinds of careers could be more fulfilling for you, try to imagine what your future in the role might look like and begin mapping out how you might like your career to progress. Armed with this knowledge, you will be better able to communicate your skills and goals to future employers and more confident in your professional ambitions.
Most of the job applications you send out will not stick. Rip off the bandaid and start applying to jobs that seem interesting to you, and adjust your Letter of Intent and Resume accordingly. At the very least you will be floating your name and learning about the jobs available; you may even get some interview practice in.
Be open to new possibilities.
Maybe a job appears that you had never considered, or you see a company you develop a great interest in. The job search can be as illuminating as the new job itself. Let your curiosity run wild so you don’t find yourself in another job you are unexcited by.
Clarify your needs.
Don’t go into an interview blindly. Be aware of, and confident in, your salary and professional needs, and research the role and company beforehand. Remember, both sides of an interview are assessing whether the other is a good fit, and you have every reason to be confident that you will find the right fit!
Whether you’re ready to take the plunge or you’re just thinking about it, sign up for Lensa to receive daily personalized job listings, or schedule an appointment with one of our career experts today. We’re here to help you build the best life for you.