Have you ever been in the situation where you are doing a menial task and suddenly something triggers a sense of dissatisfaction with your career? Perhaps you were flicking through a local paper when you come across a two page article featuring an old classmate detailing how they are top of their field on a salary you can only dream of? Perhaps you cannot bear to look at your monthly water bill, as despite the extra attention to your financial outgoings, the costs just keep stacking up? Maybe you are having to miss yet another school play to attend an ‘all-too-frequent’ last-minute meeting, as your boss repeatedly expects you to yell “how high” when they ask you to “jump” – even though it is always in your ‘own’ time?
Whatever the reason, it is fairly common to wonder whether there is a better career path out there for you – humans naturally enjoy speculating about the grass always being greener somewhere else! The tricky part is figuring out whether your urgency to move jobs is an impulse which will fade, or something more permanent which should prompt action.
Three questions you should ask yourself are detailed below.
1 – Is it my working environment which is bothering me, or is it the career path I have chosen?
Professional environmental issues often include:
a) Poor management
b) A commute that makes you want to cry
c) Colleagues that would prefer to put a knife in your back – rather than put it in the dishwasher.
If you love your job (generally) but feel unappreciated, you may just need to move companies – not professions! Often a conflict of ideas and/or interest can cause this type of situation.
For example, say you are a candidate who has come to us after resigning from your previous position – as you felt claustrophobic in your role. You felt your ideas were knocked back, you had to follow strict (perhaps unnecessary) rules – you couldn’t show your true potential and you hated not being listened to. However, after speaking to your manager, we find that your ideas were greatly appreciated and you were a valued member of staff – your boss was just a stickler for following rules and didn’t like anyone diverging from them.
In this type of situation you either need to communicate with your manager / boss or admit that the situation is unlikely to change as much as you may wish and move companies – but stay in the same professional field. Chances are you are likely to then thrive as a result of having slightly more free-rein.
At the other end of the spectrum there is ‘career misalignment’. Are you in an industry or role that you feel passionate about and does it play to your strengths? Or are you beginning to realise you really dislike what your company stands for? If you are bored out of your mind every day or hate being in a client-facing role (when all you want to do is support your colleagues in the office) – you probably need to rethink your career path.
Although sometimes you cannot be too picky when seeking your ‘perfect’ role (- dependent on the market), you should aim to do something you know you are likely to be happy and good at doing. For example, if you have a passion for sales, getting in front of clients and love the housing market – you should probably try your hand at Estate Agency (or similar), not taking a job as an administrator for a food manufacturing company. Of course, having a job is better than not having one at all, however, if you take a job doing something you hate you will only end up leaving after a short time – leading you back to square one. This is not the way to go if you want career satisfaction.
Generally, environmental issues are more easily fixed than pervasive issues with your entire career path. Both can be rectified – you just need to be clued-up on what the issue is before making a decision.
2 – What are my priorities / do they align with my existing career path?
There are three main factors that generally come into play here:
a) Our personal well-being / happiness
b) Our professional fulfilment
c) Our financial situation
Of course, the dream is that every day we will be ecstatically happy, healthy, have a large house, a beautiful car, several holidays a year – all with a pay-cheque to match! This would be wonderful, however, real-world career choices often require compromise.
Personally (no right or wrong), how would you currently rank the three points above? – Remember as you grow professionally and enter different stages of your personal life, you may re-order your priorities. For example, there may come a time in your life (if you haven’t already experienced it) where financial security comes top of the list as you need to provide for your growing family. When this happens, a high-salary yet ‘not-so-much-fun’ career will be your priority.
If you feel that not everything is perfect but your job matches most of the areas you care about, chances are you should stay-put. If your priorities and happiness are at odds and you feel like you are hitting your head against a brick wall everyday – you may need to consider a career change. At the end of the day, the majority of your ‘priority boxes’ need to be checked and you need to be happy as often as you can be.
3 – What am I willing to go through / sacrifice for what I want?
Finally! You feel like you are making headway as you have identified the source of your issues – but don’t go charging off. Take a moment and think about the new path you want to go down and how much you are willing to put on hold. Changing your career takes time, effort and requires a fair amount of personal motivation and flexibility. You need to really throw yourself into your new venture and be prepared to face fears, rejection, discomfort and maybe even a pay-cut.
Although it may seem a daunting prospect, you are likely to have arrived at this conclusion for good reason. If the majority of signs are pointing towards a different career path, chances are it will pay-off in the long run. In most areas of life, “good things come to those who wait” – so why should your professional life be any different?
Again, dreaming about whether the grass really is greener on the other side is natural, we are all guilty of doing it – however, if this is becoming a daily (or even hourly) occurrence, it needs to be addressed. Hopefully this short post has helped pin-down whether you are just a ‘dreamer’ or whether you really do need a career makeover!
Tags: career, career change, career makeover, career path, career struggles, job, job search, job seeker, profession, professional, recruitment
This post was written by Emma Jones