It’s Sunday night and reality has hit – you have to go to work tomorrow. Your stomach starts churning, or anxiety is creating a headache or other stress related symptoms. You know you are not happy at your current job, but what are your options? What do you need to be, know and do to make a change?
1. What is the cause of my unhappiness? Be honest with yourself. Is it because you were passed up for a promotion? Is it a less than cohesive working environment? Is it the job itself, the responsibilities, projects, expectations? Is it the people you are working with, above and below you? After you have given this some thought, you should be able to determine if this discontent is with the industry, your employer or perhaps even your specific job.
2. Am I mismatched with my career? This can happen to people. I can tell you from experience working with general job seekers up through executives, that many are not working in the career they first imagined when graduating from college. And that’s okay. What you need to do now is identify where you want to go from here.
3. Where do I want to go next? If you are successful in identifying the reasons why your current job is not working for you, then the next step should be easy. What can happen (and does to many job seekers) is that they are so anxious to get out of their current job, they just jump into a similar situation with a different company. Of course, that doesn’t solve the problem. Be sure you are focusing on a new path, not just running away from current difficulties.
4. What motivates me? This really needs to be examined so that your next career move works to your strengths. Numerous people today have too many burnout skills wrapped into their jobs and this creates unhappy employees. The ideal balance would be working 80% in your brilliance and using less than 20% of your burnout skills. Part of that equation speaks to some percent of your skills being in development – developing skills that will propel you forward in your career. Learning new skills keeps an employee from getting bored with their job.
5. How can I make a change? Before starting a career transition, create a career action plan. Just as you would with a project you are doing personally or professionally, create a plan with all the steps you need to reach your goal (write a resume, apply for jobs, interview, network, etc.) Build in a few “what ifs” into your plan to help you manage any pitfalls or challenges that may come up during this job search process. Check finances to get a realistic view of how it impacts your plan.
6. When can I make the change? You may want to walk in to your job on Monday and hand your boss the Johnny Paycheck CD, “Take This Job and Shove it.” Realistically, your personal circumstances will dictate how quickly you can make the change. Understand that someone who is employed is a better candidate to a potential employer than someone unemployed. This should help you tolerate keeping your old job while looking for the next one, or consider other options that fit your needs.
7. Do I need help from others? That depends on you, but most job seekers are more successful and find the job search experience easier and quicker if they enlist the help of others. Consider using a professional resume writer, or career coach to help you create your career documents, branding, and action plan. You may have friends and family who can help you stay positive and focused. Colleagues and professional contacts can help you with networking and finding hidden unadvertised jobs.
To maximize your potential for career change success, you need to have a forward-thinking mindset, invest some time and money in yourself and your future, and be engaged in the process. The first step is to take that first step. Good luck!