It can be very challenging to admit that you want a career change, whether for the good of your health, your own fulfillment, or to chase your dreams. Knowing that you want to change course is one thing. It can be very overwhelming to take the first step, or even know where to begin – especially when you are conscious of bills that need to be paid and a steady income that needs to be guaranteed. Taking risks becomes a lot more difficult later in life, and a career change can often seem like the biggest risk to take.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that it’s the wrong decision to make. Career changes are essential both for your personal transformation and for ensuring that you achieve exactly what you want out of life. It may be that the career you always thought you were destined for simply hasn’t worked out the way you had hoped, or perhaps other life commitments have resulted in you needing a substantial career change.
Whatever your personal reasons for seeking career inspiration and development, just know that it is possible and that you can achieve exactly what you want to achieve.
Signs You Need a Career Change
Perhaps you haven’t yet properly considered the potential for a career change. Maybe you are set in a routine that is bringing you no joy, thinking there is little to no possibility for change. There are always going to be signs that you need a career change; some will be impossible to ignore, such as a bad working situation affecting your health, whereas others might be smaller symptoms of a general lack of satisfaction.
Here are the key symptoms to watch out for that may signal that a career change is in order.
- You have no passion for your job. You need to have a foundation of passion or joy for what you do in order to get the most out of your career. If you simply don’t care about your line of work, have no passion for your particular job role, or lack enthusiasm for anything you do, you are clearly either in the wrong position within your field or in the wrong field entirely.
- You dread going into work. While bad days are bound to happen now and then, and you can’t always be expected to jump for joy at the prospect of going into work, when this turns to severe dread and anxiety about going into the office, this is a problem. You should never feel anxious about going into work.
- You only look forward to your time off. Days off and vacations are great, of course, but if you are feeling miserable every second you are at work and only feel happy when you are off, this is a sign that you need to look for a career that you can enjoy.
- You have hit a roadblock in your progression. It may be that you enjoy your current job, but there is absolutely no potential for progression. If you are a hard-working individual who dreams about taking the next step and learning more, having a job that does not allow for progression can be very unfulfilling and will only cause bitterness over time.
- Your needs have changed. Changes can happen at any time in life, and if you suddenly find yourself needing something different from your career, whether in a personal way or to fit better around a change in lifestyle, you may need to look for a job that makes accommodations for that.
- Your working schedule does not suit your lifestyle requirements. While it’s true that your career often comes at the top of a priority list and that you can’t expect to fit your working schedule around hobbies or personal time, there’s no reason why you can’t find a job that has a working schedule better suited for your needs. Some people work better at their own pace in a self-employed capacity, other people may prefer working evenings or weekends, and some people may be more suited to night shifts. Finding a working schedule that suits your personal timetable is not impossible.
- You do not have any promotion or pay rise opportunity. If you are career-oriented and have big progression dreams, having nothing to work up to can be very difficult. With no opportunity for promotion or to earn more money, you may feel like you have nothing to work towards and that you are never going to achieve more.
- Your job does not pay well enough. It may be that your needs have changed, and you require a larger income than you once did, or perhaps you feel underpaid for your level of skill or for the job you do.
- You are not challenged enough. Feeling challenged and motivated in your job is what keeps you energized and motivated. No longer feeling challenged can leave you feeling uninspired and can soon result in you feeling less than productive.
- You do not receive positive reinforcement or encouragement. If the workplace culture at your current job sees you handling a lack of encouragement or appraisals from management, this can have a detrimental effect on your energy for work. You may begin to feel undervalued and unappreciated, which can have a direct effect on your work.
- You constantly dream about a different career. A very clear sign that you may need a career change may be the simple fact that you keep hoping and wishing for it, as well as imagining what it would be like to work differently.
- You have thought about leaving your current job many times. If you are constantly thinking about the possibility of leaving your job and finding another, there must be an underlying reason for you feeling this way. Address the reasons for why you might be thinking of leaving.
- Your job is directly impacting your health. This could be both your mind and body. If your current job is leaving you feeling depressed, anxious, ill, or stressed on a regular, long-term basis, this is a clear sign that you need to seek alternative employment options that will not affect your health.
Choosing the Right Career for You
Acknowledging that you need a change of career is only half the battle. It may be that you know you would like to do something different or move into a different sector, but you have no idea what. It may be that you know enough to know that you would like a job that aligns with your interests and passions, but you aren’t sure about the specific job roles available in these areas.
How to Transform Your Career
It Is Never Too Late to Return to Education
Even as an adult, no matter what age you are, it’s never too late to return to education and learning, just as it is never too late to decide that you need a new career. Returning to education has never been easier, due to the more flexible ways of learning that are now available, such as distance and online learning courses that can be done from the comfort of your own home and fitted around your current job commitments.
Certain qualifications and online learning courses can also be used to develop and transform your existing career, providing valuable learning opportunities to advance your knowledge. Click here to learn more.
Outline Your Goals
This is very helpful if you don’t yet know which specific career you want to pursue. Understanding your goals can help you to narrow your search to concentrate on the fields and positions that will best enable you to achieve your goals.
When thinking about career goals, you should be honest with yourself and ask yourself important questions, such as:
- Do you want to rise to the top of your profession and aim for a leadership or managerial role?
- Do you want to own and run your own business? Or do you want to work alongside others, or for someone else?
- Is there a target salary you are looking for or need?
- Are you looking for particular personal fulfillment, such as a job that will allow you to explore your current hobbies or interests?
- Are you looking to challenge yourself in a completely new field?
- Do you want to learn something completely new, or adapt your current skillset?
- Do you want a career that will allow you to travel or see more places, or would you rather be stationed in a particular setting?
Outline Your Wants and Needs
Once you have outlined your clear goals, you can begin to narrow it down even more by thinking about your specific wants and needs. For example, you may have a goal of owning your own business, and a specific need may follow that you are able to work a certain number of hours, or that you need your business to be based somewhere in particular. This will help you to explore the options available to you, as well as eliminate any options that aren’t feasible based on your particular circumstances.
When exploring your own wants and needs, think about:
- Working hours and schedule
- How far you are willing to commute
- The need to relocate
- Your required salary
- Being able to fit your job around personal commitments, such as family or children
Do Your Research
You should undertake relevant research into any career opportunity you are considering in order to be armed with all the necessary knowledge and know the steps you need to take.
Your research should include the necessary experience or qualifications required for any area of business you’re looking to go into.
You should also look to connect with other business professionals, companies, and relevant individuals who may be able to offer guidance on particular career paths. It may even be that you can speak to an individual who has been on the same career journey you have and can, therefore, offer valuable advice.
Once you understand what is needed for your chosen career path, you can take the necessary steps, such as gaining extra qualifications, relocating to a relevant area, or looking to gain further experience.
Consider Work Experience
Making a career change is a big step. You never know whether it’s going to work out until you do it, even if you’re fully convinced that it is the right choice for you.
If you’re looking to completely change career and have a career in mind, but you’re not entirely sure whether it would suit you, you may be able to seek work experience opportunities to see what it would be like working in a particular environment or in a particular role before you fully commit. Be sure to look out for voluntary or placement opportunities for any career you are considering to enable you to have first-hand experience before you make the all-important switch.
If you do find that it’s exactly as you thought it would be and you feel optimistic that it is the right choice, this voluntary experience or placement can then serve to help any future application towards a job in this particular industry, so it can only work in your favor.
Explore Options in Your Current Industry
A career change doesn’t have to mean a huge leap into the unknown. A simple adjustment or new opportunity in your current industry may be all that is required. It wouldn’t hurt to do a little research into different opportunities available to you in your current profession, especially if the business you currently work for is very large. Take the time to look around for new opportunities, or even arrange to sit down and speak with a manager or senior individual that you trust to talk about any potential for progression or alternative opportunities available through internal recruitment.
Sometimes, simply asking the question or raising any issues you may be having can be all it takes to open the door to a new opportunity.