The chances of choosing the career path you love, are paid well in, and are happy to work at every day when you’re a teenager is very slim. Reality can paint over many dreams and make you realize later in your career that the direction you’re taking just isn’t right for you. Not only is realizing that you want to change tracks okay, but it’s also a great thing. Sometimes you need to try things to learn more about yourself and what you want or even need out of a career.
We are not fixed in time. Just because you thought that one career would be ideal for you in the past doesn’t mean it has to stay that way in the future. If you’re thinking of making a big career change, use this guide to help you understand your options and how to do it:
Signs It’s Time to Change Careers
There are a few key signs that it’s time to change careers:
You Feel Burned Out
The biggest warning sign that it’s time to make a career change is that you are living with chronic stress. If every day feels like a fight and you’re just a moment away from drowning, you need to get out of your job ASAP. Yes, many people take on jobs to support themselves and for little other reason, but if you’re stressed at work to the point where you can’t even relax at home, you’re putting your health at risk. Burnout can lead to a mental breakdown and anxiety disorders that can be very hard to overcome. You deserve better out of your career.
If you find the job and industry you work in boring, then you’re simply there for the paycheck and nothing else. While there’s nothing wrong with this, you are putting yourself in an environment that could eventually lead to burnout. You may also be quietly sabotaging yourself as well. If you’re bored at work, chances are you aren’t out there pushing for more opportunities or trying to do new things that will help you stand out. Rethink what you want out of your career if the industry is right for you, and what role actually suits you. You can use the fact that you’re comfortable now to your advantage and work on learning or training up the skills you’ll need to pursue a career you actually care about.
You Actively Dream About Doing Something Else
If you have a clear idea of what you actually want to do, then you owe it to yourself to fight for that dream. This may mean striking out on your own, or it may mean retraining, but if you have a clear goal in mind working towards that goal is how you’re going to feel fulfilled and finally get to a place that you enjoy. The end result doesn’t even have to look like what you initially thought; it’s the journey that matters.
You’re Passionate About a Different Field
If your passion lies in a different field, always try to move into that industry. If you’re passionate about the environment, for example, many roles will let you help push for change, even doing the same tasks you’re doing now. There are a lot of cogs in the machine, and the difference between working a job in an industry you don’t care about to one you’re passionate about can be massive.
Types of Career Changes
Making a career change is a big move. It can even be terrifying. Financial stability is one of the most important qualities that determine happiness in a person. If you’re worried about making ends meet, you don’t have much emotional space left for the joys that life can bring. It is this financial insecurity that can leave many working in jobs that they hate simply because it brings in a paycheck.
This is the worst position to put yourself in. While yes, you may bring in money, you have also put yourself firmly in the direction of burnout. Burnout, or, in other words, an emotional breakdown, can be very hard to recover from. Not only that but putting yourself back into the same environment that caused the breakdown in the first place can put you right back in that dark place.
Do not stay in a work environment that puts your mental health at risk. There are many ways that you can change careers, and starting with one of the more minor options can help you explore what you want out of your career, and even how to go about it.
One of the simplest ways to make a career change is to change jobs. In many instances, the work environment and even the manager might be the source of all your woes and why you’re thinking of getting out. If you find a job opportunity that lets you continue your work in a far more supportive environment, it’s possible that all of your concerns will be solved. Never underestimate how working conditions can make you hate something you’d otherwise love. An artist can love what they do, but if they’re forced to work in stressful, unrewarding conditions, they could even end up hating art and being creative.
If you are in that dire of a situation, always look for new work. If you find that it isn’t the workplace but the job role and career, you can make changes later.
Tip: Use the new job as an opportunity to negotiate a higher wage. This can be particularly useful for those who were earning under market value and were stressed because of it. You don’t have to prove what you earned elsewhere. Requesting the market average at minimum for your experience level, the role, and the city you live in is standard practice.
Same Role, Different Industry
If the new job also isn’t cutting it, consider looking into new industries. If your role is ubiquitous across businesses (for example, if you work in marketing), you can easily transition into any field. Think about what industry speaks most to you, and you can get started with making that career transition.
Working in a new industry can be difficult, even if the role itself is the same as the one you have now. However, just because you don’t have experience in that industry doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. You may find it difficult to get started in a new industry because you lack knowledge about the trends, influences, and so on that have become standard for those working in that field.
All of that is information that you can learn. Not only will learning (through short courses, books, articles, reports, and by going to events) help you position yourself for a career in a new field, but it’s also how you can start establishing a network. If you can prove your passion for that new field and your dedication to learning and adapting and then showcase your job skills (even in another industry), you’ll be well on your way to making a career shift.
Different Role, Same Industry
Take your industry knowledge and build up essential new skills to make yourself qualified to work in a different career path. This is a common approach. If you have a great business idea in your field, for example, you may start a company of your own. Transitioning from an employee to a business owner is a classic example of this type of career shift.
You may also expand your skillset to make you qualified for a different role in your industry. There are so many examples of how you can do this, but overall, it mostly means trying to strike out on your own. You’ll need to learn the missing skills and use your existing industry knowledge to your advantage.
New Role, New Industry
The final way you can make a career change is by completely shifting your approach. This is the hardest way to make a career shift because it’s essentially starting an entirely new career path. You’ll need to retrain, build a new network, and may even need to start lower down the career ladder than you were previously.
That being said, you are not starting from scratch. Starting from scratch would mean that all of the time you spent working in the corporate world was a waste, which is simply not true. You have learned a lot of essential soft and even hard skills that can be transferred.
You also have more retraining opportunities than before. There are degrees out there that are designed for those looking to make a career shift. Some are from one similar role to another; others are for those without any background experience.
How to Make a Career Change
Almost every successful career change will require retraining and networking.
There are many different ways that you can retrain, but one of the most efficient options is to earn a degree. This is particularly useful for those who want to transition into a role that requires a license. Educators, counselors, healthcare workers – all of these roles are examples where a degree is a necessary requirement before you can earn your license.
The good news is that there are specific degrees out there to help those with their career changes. Many teachers today, for example, are feeling burned out in their current role but want to continue to help children. A teacher to school counselor career change may not seem like that big of a leap, but both professionals need to be licensed to work. However, the good news for those looking to make that change is that there are master’s programs designed for teachers looking to become counselors.
Don’t just stop at degrees, however. You can also learn by reading books, reports, and articles. ALso, you can take short courses and workshops. You can go to conferences and talks. All of these will help you learn more about the industry, help you with your future career aspirations by making you knowledgeable, and show your initiative.
Also Read: Want a Career in HR? Know These Things
Every career, to an extent, boils down to who you know. That’s why networking is so important. You don’t have to wait until you get your first new job to start networking. Every one of those retraining tools is an opportunity. A degree is a perfect place to start since you’ll automatically have access to your alumni network and career services.
Connect with others online, go to conferences or talks and stay for the socials, and try to be outgoing. When it comes to making a good impression, try to see how you can help others first before wondering what they can do for you.
This is how you can show your best self to newcomers. Just remember to follow them online (for example, on LinkedIn) so that you can follow along with their career and stay in touch naturally.
Always Stay True to Yourself
You are only given one life. If a career isn’t working for you – even your second one – then don’t be afraid to try something else. Although you may think you are, you aren’t stuck. You are adaptable, and there are many resources today to help you learn and develop the skills you’ll need to finally make your way. As this article has pointed out, it is more than possible.
In some cases, there may not be that “dream job”. For some, the constant flux of trying new things and experiencing new roles and industries is where their passion is, but once you get settled, it becomes boring.
The fact is there is no right or wrong career. There’s only the direction you take and what you want. You don’t even need to put happiness into consideration. Many choose their career paths based on other factors, like wage, work/life balance, and so on. The only thing that matters is that you feel fulfilled and that you’re getting enough out of your career to stay.