Burnout is real. A survey by Deloitte found that 84% of millennials had, at least temporarily, felt burned out at their current job. But what if that feeling is permanent? Or if you just don’t like your work anymore? KSL Jobs looks at how to decide whether to change careers, and how to navigate the move.
The big switch
High school career counselors can push pretty hard when it comes to choosing a future job. Remember all those questionnaires about your interests and natural talents? But really, how many 15-year-olds, or even 18-year-olds, are sure of what they want to do forever? Few.
Whenever you made your initial choice, it doesn’t have to be a permanent one. In an EdX survey, 29% of respondents said they had moved to a completely different career field than what they began right out of college. Hmm, maybe that family friend who quit his job as a lawyer to become a librarian isn’t so eccentric after all.
There are varied reasons people switch careers. Some common motivations include:
- Different values. Making tons of money may have seemed like a good goal when you were in your 20s, but the 50-hour work week may not be worth it to you anymore.
- Need for change. Feeling bored, overworked or unfulfilled can make going to work disheartening.
- Opportunity to advance. Maybe you’ve accomplished all you had hoped in your career choice, or there’s no next level.
- Unhappy at work. You don’t have to love everything about your job, but you should at least enjoy it.
- Management conflicts. Sometimes personalities and ideals don’t mesh, no matter how hard you try.
If you aren’t happy with what you’re doing, start exploring other opportunities. But realize, switching careers may not solve everything. For instance, a full-time job will still mean a 40-hour work week. A new job description doesn’t mean you’ll always be challenged. However, if your work is unsatisfying, or you dread going into the office (in person or virtually), a change may be in order.
Lay a foundation for your career move by deciding what you really want from it. What do you like about your current work? What do you feel is missing? Perhaps you want to be more creative. Maybe you need something relatively stress-free, or you want to be challenged.
Next, determine what kinds of jobs might fulfill that need. For example, as a graphic designer, you feel stifled and overworked at a national marketing firm. Would you be happier with a small, local company that appreciates your unique eye?
Or, you may want a change altogether. You love working as a chemist, but feel like your efforts have no purpose. You want to make a difference. Could you become a high school chemistry teacher?
If you aren’t sure what new position you might like, you could start by looking at careers most in demand. Use KSL Jobs to search by category to learn what types of jobs are available in your field of interest. You can even search by desired salary. Keeping your exploration broad initially gives you a greater variety of possibilities.
Hold off on that resignation letter a bit longer. What do you really know about a different career? Is it all you think it is? Meet with professionals or friends in the industry you’re considering. Ask how they feel about their work, what the day-to-day job entails, etc. Reach out on your professional and social media accounts for more details.
If possible, shadow someone. The dream of working as a morning DJ could die a quick death if you find you can’t stand getting up while it’s still dark outside.
While you’re at it, ask people who know you well if they can envision you working in the new role. They may point out things you hadn’t contemplated. Your short temper might not work well as a restaurant owner, for example.
Starting fresh also presents another concern: How do you change careers with no experience? Fortunately, many talents and skills you’ve developed may transfer well to a new job. The bubbly personality you rely on as a receptionist would easily apply to a dental hygienist position. Your strong interpersonal skills as a human resources director could help you build trust as a therapist.
If the career change is dramatic, you may need to learn new skills, earn certifications or gain more education. Consider taking a night class, attending a professional seminar (or webinar) or participating in a workshop to prepare.
Even a small amount of experience, paired with your unique skills, could make you look more interesting to future employers. If you can’t find paid work, seek out volunteer opportunities in a related field.
Make a plan
You’re almost there! Once you know what you want to do, create a plan to make it happen.
- What actions do you need to take? Make a list.
- How will you achieve plans? List resources needed.
- When can you work on each step? Be date specific.
- When will you complete your goals? Choose an end date.
- Are you on task? Review and update your goals as needed.
Part of your action plan should include updating your resume and online portfolio. Figuring out how to write a resume when changing careers may seem a bit tricky, but really it’s just about changing the focus. A traditional resume is a list of jobs you’ve done. When changing fields, emphasize your skills instead.
You should still include your work experience, but connect that experience to the new position. For example, leadership skills are valuable in any field. If your resume seems sparse, consider adding personal achievements. That might include something relevant, such as belonging to a local professional club, or something unusual, such as building your own rabbit hutch.
If your new career path seems completely unrelated, you could include a short (two sentence) objective statement. Here you would explain what you’ve accomplished and how you will carry that experience to the new position.
While it may have seemed disloyal to switch careers for your grandfather, today workers aged 35 to 44 change jobs every 2.9 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Moving on doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate the opportunity you’ve had. You may just want a new challenge, or have grown to appreciate different things.
As you prepare for your next role, consider what you value most in a job. Then, start your hunt on KSL Jobs, where you can search by category, location and salary requirements. You can even quickly upload your freshly updated resume to apply for positions you find. Find more tips for getting hired on the KSL Jobs Resource Center.