You finish secondary school and decide that you want to be a lawyer. You pursue your chosen career path, gain skills and education on the way, and finally start working in your early 20s. But by the time you’re in your early 30s, you begin to question if you made the right choice.
Finding a career that is the best fit for your skills and in line with your interests is a journey of trials and errors. If you have hit a career wall, it may be time to rethink your line of work. No matter the stage of your career, it’s always possible to transition into a new career path.
When should you make a career change?
It is perfectly normal to feel uninterested or unmotivated about work from time to time. But if this feeling persists over an extended period, you may need to look deeper and evaluate if this is the job you want to do for the rest of your life. Here are a few clear signs that point toward an impending career change.
- You are not adding value.
- You are constantly bored.
- The only reason to stay is the money.
- You don’t see a future in your current career.
Most of us will spend one third of our lives in work, so it’s really important that you think about your career and make sure you are as happy as you can be with it. What success looks like is different for everyone. For some, it will be climbing the ladder as high as you can and get the most money. For others, it will be finding some sort of sweet spot, being financially comfortable without taking on too much responsibility.
You might want to find a career that gives you the flexibility to work from home or be your own boss. Or you might be content with always moving into new industries, always learning something new. Whatever success looks like to you, think about how you’re going to get there. Start by looking at your own job and the current situation you’re in. Ask yourself what your current job is doing for you. When you’re trying to figure out what makes you happy in your work, it’s important to look at what currently makes you happy as well as what might be missing.
While changing jobs means an opportunity to learn new skills and grow in your career, the shift also comes with uncertainty. You don’t know whether you will like your new career path or whether it will provide financial security. You can take stock of the benefits and downsides of making a career shift to be better prepared for the outcomes.
Pros of changing your career
Learn new skills
Doing the same work day in and day out can often make you feel like your learning curve has flattened. Moving on to a new job gives you a chance to freshen up skills, learn new tools and ways of doing things, and level up.
Get a fresh perspective
If you stay in one position for a long time, you may feel a sense of stagnation and dullness. Even if there’s nothing wrong with the organisation, you can become complacent or just not inspired or challenged. Moving on to a new role and a new organisation makes you take stock and do some inner work. It can often give you a fresh perspective on your skills and the overall job market as well as on your values and preferences.
When you feel you’re not adding value through your work, it can make you feel stressed about your career path. Changing jobs can relieve you of that stress, as you will feel more in control of the direction your career is taking.
Find core competency
When you get stuck in the routine of a job, you often lose sight of your core skills and strengths that may not be fully utilised in your current role. A career shift can allow you to reflect on those strengths and build a career out of those.
Want to make a bigger impact in your career?
Switching roles and industries opens up new avenues for you to network and learn from these people.
Cons of changing your career
Leaving a stable, paying job behind and jumping back into the job market can put pressure on your finances. Ensure you have enough savings to tide out the period when you are looking for new opportunities and figuring out the next steps in your career move.
Trial and error
You have decided that you do not want to stick with your current job anymore and want to move to the next opportunity as soon as possible. However, you are not yet sure about what this next move will be. Even if you know the next steps, they almost certainly will not work out exactly as you had planned. Being prepared for some uncertain months as you figure out your career change is a good idea.
When you switch industries at a mid-to-senior career level, you have missed building fundamental skills that may be required for a career path in your chosen industry. Proactively learning new skills and gaining industry knowledge may be a way to increase your chances of growth in the new industry.
Prove your worth
Making a career change often means you have to prove to new managers and colleagues the value you bring to the organisation and your new team and role. You’ll likely need to go out of your comfort zone and perform job duties that you’re unfamiliar with. However, once you gain your new employer’s trust in your abilities, it can set you up for future growth.
When you are jumping into a new industry or organisation, you are pitting yourself against internal candidates who have been in the industry for a long time and know the workings of the sector. However, you can educate yourself about an organisation or an industry before applying to jobs there, so you are not shooting arrows in the dark.
It’s never too late to make a career change
One of the significant roadblocks to make a career change is inertia. You’ve become too comfortable in your current work situation and are hesitant to rock the boat.
However, overcoming that inertia and taking a step toward career change can set you on a path to a career that keeps you fulfilled in the long term. The only thing you need is to make sure you understand your reasons for changing your job, identifying your skills and strengths, and then building a plan of action keeping those skills in mind.