How to tell it is time to change careers

If the thought of returning to work in the New Year 2021, post-COVID pandemic, gives anyone the dry heaves or shakes, without the benefit of the night before, it’s probably time to consider options for a new career path. Burn out and boredom from the present workload are both stress inducing; at least considering and researching other options gives a sense of doing something and taking control.

How to tell it is time to change careers

Is it Burn Out, Boredom, or Something Else

The first step is to decide if it is the job, the employee, or something else that is causing those knots in the stomach and that panic feeling upon arriving at work. Is the work situation and/or environment a healthy one or one filled with put downs and anxiety? Is the job challenging or just stress inducing? Is the workload OK but the co-workers not? Is the stress from home life seeping into the job stress area and causing more harm?

It might be easier to decide what it is not. Eliminate external factors first. Loss or conflict within family may be the cause of added stress at the workplace rather than the workload or career itself. If the work itself is still comforting or provides a sense of accomplishment, then most likely a career change is NOT in order. Consider getting help for those problems outside of work.

Burn out and boredom both presents own challenges. Burn out is the body and mind’s way of protecting itself; too much is going on and shut down is the mode of choice. The line of work may be too much for one now: for example, being a Paramedic may be great at first, but the hours and emotional roller coaster of trying to save lives will eventually catch up to these workers. Many move into other healthcare related areas to utilize their experience without the day to day stress.

Boredom means the worker is not putting forth his best effort. While not all jobs can be exhilarating at all times, see if there are ways to combat feelings of lethargy with new projects or a new attitude. Or starting thinking about the jobs that do raise anticipation levels.

How to Change Careers

If it seems that it really is the choice of path that’s giving the headache and/or stress, it might be time to consider other options. First, get a sense of personal abilities and attributes. Write down talents, proven abilities through projects or experience, soft skills, technical skills, etc. Yes, sort of like a resume, but for personal use only. Now, write down interests – personal, what is expected from a job, etc. Put that sheet away; it will be used later.

Research Other Careers

How to change careers

This is not meant as an all-out, get the details and facts kind of research. The idea is to learn about other possibilities. If the standard advice of “think about what you like doing and find a job that does that” is followed, all the seeker will get is what is already known. To find out the unknown is the point of this research, and it can be overwhelming.

Start by reading a list of job possibilities. The easiest way is to click on any job site and actually read from the section lists, or groupings of jobs. Get a feel for what is actually out there; stop being limited to current knowledge and expand on choices.

If something sounds interesting, write it down. Get some idea of what the responsibilities are by reading the job ads for that choice. Now compare that with the sheet of personal attributes. It’s surprising how many jobs cross job sectors and need similar talents; all that might be needed is upgrading of specific or technical skills for that career path.

Plan Your Next Career Move in 2021, post-COVID

Although you often would like to start your personal career development efforts at the implementation phase, it is critical to start with a proper assessment of your career values, interests, skills, and style. Career satisfaction depends on how compatible your career is with your values, professional interests, skills and work or management style.

Identify and Prioritize Career Values

The importance of aligning your values with your professional interests can not be overemphasized as it directly correlates to your job satisfaction. Each person is different and each circumstance is unique. Most of your career values are acquired early in life and some of them change as you face new issues and challenges. Most forty-year olds today are engaged in occupations that were chosen when they were twenty. Find out what career values you hold at this point in time.

Determine and Synchronize Career Interests

change careers

Career values represent strong principles that are associated with specific jobs, career interests are mostly apparent in the basic tasks or organizational environments that attract you to some occupations and deter you from others. There are number of standardized instruments available to assess career interests but if those are not available you can simply review a list of career options.

Remember, the fact that a career is attractive does not mean it is the ideal job or you should seek that job, it could simply mean that there are some elements of the job that are of interest and should be considered.

Detect Highly Motivated Skills

While you probably have spent some time examining how competent you are in using certain skills, you may have not considered the second dimension of skills – how motivated are you to actually use them.

Since your skills are the primary reason a potential employer will hire you, it is important to spend some time analyzing them. You may not be able to use all your motivated skills in your next position, but you may use them at home or in volunteer activities.

Beware of “burnout skills”. Those are skills that you are good at, probably have been rewarded for by past managers, but you hate using them. The more you have to use your burnout skills in your next job the closer you come to quitting your job rather sooner than later.

Assess Work or Management Style

While most managers say they hire people because of their skills, in reality, much of the hiring decision rests in how well you fit the work environment. “We just clicked” is a rationale for hiring based on personal work style.

Consider your work style preferences, how do you approach conflict, challenges and projects. Is your preferred approach emotional, analytical, action oriented or creative? Consult past coworkers, friends and family to give you an additional perspective.

Personality and work style are generally well-embedded characteristics that rarely change over a lifetime.

Once you assessed your values and career interests, you can begin to specify and explore a variety of career options, build your network and learn about how to effectively employ your contact list.

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