These days, it's not unusual for workers to go through multiple jobs between college graduation and retirement. And while switching careers isn't uncommon either, it can be a daunting move if you've established a niche elsewhere. If you're not sure you're ready for a career change, here are three signs that it's probably time to pull the trigger.
1. Your work isn't fulfilling
It stands to reason that someone who works as an investment banker may not get the same type of satisfaction as, say, a teacher or social worker who spends his days helping children. But work-related fulfillment comes in different shapes and forms. A marketing professional, for example, might enjoy landing new accounts, while an engineer might achieve satisfaction by solving complex design problems. But if you're in a situation where you can't seem to find fulfillment in any aspect of your job whatsoever, it's time to find a career you can be more passionate about.
2. You're just plain bored
Many people confuse on-the-job downtime and boredom. It's possible for you to be perpetually busy at work, yet bored with the tasks you're actually doing. If the latter applies to you, and there's no way to tweak your role in any given environment to keep you more mentally stimulated, then you're better off pursuing a career you'll actually find interesting.
3. You're constantly volunteering for other things to avoid your core responsibilities
One of the best ways to grow your career is to push yourself outside your comfort zone and take on tasks that aren't necessarily part of your job description. But if you come to find that you're constantly volunteering for various assignments to avoid the tasks you're supposed to be doing, then it may be time to face that fact that you've chosen the wrong career.
Making the switch
Jumping from one career to another isn't something that should happen overnight. After all, the last thing you want is to go from one unrewarding career to another. If the time has come to move on from your current career:
- Meet with a career counselor. If you're not sure exactly what it is you want to do, but know that your current role isn't satisfying, a professional counselor might help you identify your next move. Spending a few hundred dollars to have someone assess your skills, strengths, and passions might save you from making the wrong immediate choice.
- Ask to shadow a friend or colleague for a few days. Though not all companies offer this option, some businesses allow prospective employees to shadow current workers to understand what their positions entail. Shadowing another professional will help you get a sense of whether the job you think you want is actually a good fit
- Beef up your resume. If you're applying for jobs you have little to no experience doing, that might be a hard sell for prospective employers. That's why it's critical to rework your resume and focus on the skills you possess that are universal to any field. For example, if you have excellent managerial skills or are known as an organized project coordinator, those are talents that might easily translate to a brand-new career.
- Start networking. Breaking into a new industry is easier said than done, so if you know people who might be able to help get your foot in the door, it pays to reach out and see if they can work some magic on your behalf. A study published on LinkedIn last year found that 85% of all jobs are obtained through networking, so if you're ready to switch careers, comb through your contacts and start making some calls.
Abandoning one career for a totally new one takes guts, and maybe even a leap of faith. But if you're uninspired, bored, or downright sick of your current role, it's time to find a career that will keep you satisfied and engaged. You owe it yourself to be happy at work, and while switching careers may be a scary prospect, it's one that can really pay off in the long run.