A career is like a jacket. If you’ve outgrown its experiences and challenges, replace it. If it is not fulfilling your needs, change it before it changes your mood, your mental health, your finances, your relationships, and perhaps even your entire destiny — for the worse. You don’t want that for you and neither do we.
Changing careers, however, is a project on its own. In other words, the switch may stretch you in ways you’re not ready for yet. It requires both anticipation and careful consideration of various factors such as your transferrable skills, what dulls your spirit, what ignites it, what professional setting you can tolerate — or better yet, thrive in, your family obligations, your financial goals for the mid and long-term future, and the list goes on, and on. In this article on TITA Blog, we’ll reveal to you the signs to never ignore and then we’ll share five steps loaded with tips to guide you in your career path switch — for the better.
Sign #1 – When boredom becomes your norm
While at work, do you catch yourself gazing into space and struggling to remain awake? As you go through your to-do list, do you keep wondering why you’re supposed to do what you’re doing and wishing to be elsewhere working a totally different job? Perhaps, you feel apathetic during group meetings or uninterested to keep up with your career’s industry-related news and innovations. And when you think of the possibility of landing a new job in the same career field — even a much better-paid one — your heart skips a beat as if one more nail was being added to the coffin of your current torment.
Well, that is boredom at work at its peak. It’s your soul’s way of informing you that you are dying a slow death by trading multiple hours of your day in a career field that does not light you up. Intense boredom is the sign you need to prepare for your career exit and explore a new one.
“This year, I do not want to work or ever accept a project that doesn’t stimulate my creativity.” ~ Creative Director Muriel Tekou on Episode 2 of The DOM Podcast, Season 1.
This is it! That’s the resolution. Claim it for yourself.
Sign #2 – When your career falls short of your financial goals
So you’ve just reviewed your personal budget for the year and set your financial goals for the near future. But something’s off… “the math is not mathing” and even a raise at your current company wouldn’t solve the matter… So you frantically review your personal finances and attempt to strike out the least necessary items. It still doesn’t cut it. Your projected expenses, savings, and investment goals far exceed your annual compensation.
Between the idea of downgrading your current and future financial goals and potentially changing companies within the same field, you’re led to actually do more industry salaries research. That’s where you come to the realization that even the high end of the pay scale doesn’t match your desired figures. You could be promoted into the most senior role in your career field and still not be making enough for the kind of life you’re envisaging for yourself. If that’s your situation, the sign is clear: switch to a more financially rewarding career.
Sign #3 – When you’ve hit the growth ceiling in your career
It’s been years of working and climbing the ladder in your job and you’ve conquered it all. You’ve become a master at your craft and you now find yourself longing for new challenges. You nurture a growing desire to do more and to become more. It feels like your career is limiting you from fully exploring your weaknesses and turning them into newfound strengths.
You’re not alone. This was one of the factors that led ex-soccer journalist Angela Akua Asante to take a leap from sports media to diplomacy and communications in a chapter of her career reinvention journey as revealed in Episode 1 of The DOM Podcast Season 1.
Sign #4 – When your mental and physical health have taken a hit
Panic attacks, temper outbursts, insomnia, severe anxiety, depression, decreased attention span, frequent loss of memory, higher dependency on unhealthy coping mechanisms, chronic eating, loss of appetite, racing thoughts, difficulty unplugging your mind from work issues, trouble zoning out at night, physical injuries from stress or the dangerous nature of the job… does anything on this list relate to how your job affects you?
It may go beyond a company culture issue. If the entire industry’s environment is hostile and toxic to you, or if the roles require you to stretch in self-destructive ways, it’s time to boldly choose yourself and call it quits. It’s okay to take a break, identify which career will allow you to restore your sanity, and embark on a totally different journey.
Sign #5 – When your long-held and suppressed passion screams louder
There’s that one thing that has you daydreaming, helps you forget all your troubles or feel useful when you engage in it, gets you so excited you could talk about it to someone until their ears fall off, or motivates you to share with the world. It’s that one thing for which you do not need supervision and instructions to accomplish because you’d gladly do it without looking at the clock and wishing your workday was over, already.
That thing is your passion. Whether it’s pottery, gardening, playing an instrument, inventing and mastering cooking recipes, traveling the world, mentoring people, speaking to large crowds, you name it. It could become more than just a hobby if you’re undeniably good at it. But what would it take to let that dream come to life and see you thrive? That’s what we’re about to find out.
Switching careers: 5 clear steps to consider
Now you’ve seen the signs and you’ve decided to just go for it. Easier said than done, but nevertheless doable. While quitting your current career on a whim and jumping into a new one may turn out to be the most beautiful leap of faith story you could ever write for yourself, you may want to play it safe by developing a winning strategy for such a major life shift. As a matter of fact, switching careers may take more courage and self-belief than simply changing workplaces within the same industry.
Step 1: Conduct a feasibility and viability test
Not every impulse has to be acted upon. Not all dreams are meant to be pursued right away. When considering exiting your current career for a different one, applying common sense can save you from the hassle of getting deep into debts, hitting a wall, or neglecting your main priorities in life and responsibilities at home. During that phase, it is imperative to seat with yourself and anyone that may be directly impacted by your decision. Conduct thorough research and consider all factors involved. Among the many questions to ask yourself are the following:
- How do I compare with strong candidates in this new field?
- What would it take me to stand out amongst them?
- How long would it take me to refine my skills?
- How saturated is the competition in this new career field?
- What is the salary range for the kind of positions I’m eyeing?
- Does the salary range align with my personal finance goals?
- How costly would it be for me to invest into online courses or workshops to acquire the skills required?
- Safety net: do I have enough resources (time and money) to invest or sustain myself during my career transition?
- Support system: is there a community I can rely on for advice and ideas throughout my journey?
- What are my deadlines to test the waters and potentially complete my career move?
- When all is said and done, what would be the return on investment?
- How at peace am I with my new career choice? is it really the right one for me?
Just like in Design Thinking, if it’s feasible and viable, you’ve made a good case for your project and it’s worth pursuing. So go for it, darling!
Step 2: Rebrand yourself
If you have personal social media accounts, let them display content that showcases where you’ve chosen to evolve professionally, not the field you’re currently in. It’s called rebranding. Stalking HRs and hiring managers possess a critical eye when looking up applicants. You want to convince them in a few seconds that you know your craft and may well be their ideal candidate.
Say you’ve been working as a low-paid entertainment news writer for years and now wish to upgrade to fintech copywriting. If your presence and activity on the internet remain tied to all things entertainment but showcase no strong proof of affinity with the buzzing world of finance and technology, you’re sabotaging your chances of piercing into your newly chosen industry.
This is the time to get serious with your strategy. Rebrand your social media pages. Create new ones if you have to. Use a nickname or pen name, if you don’t want to mix things up or inform your followers about your career switch plan. The bottom line is to get serious, clear, and consistent with the image you would want to project to potential employers and clients in the new field you’ve picked. So follow the right accounts and be mindful of your activity — the posts you like and comment on, and those you publish. Your rebranded pages should, at a glance, portray your interest and knowledge in the career that may soon become your new terrain.
Step 3: Learn or polish key skills
Once you’ve selected the career you want to move into, look up common job descriptions for the roles you fancy and evaluate yourself. What skills are missing? which ones would benefit from further polishing? Get down to work on those.
You may not need an expensive degree or years of education to hit the requirements for that new career. Do your research and take advantage of this amazing internet era of short courses, free or affordable masterclasses, and resources-filled groups with like-minded people that are ahead of you in the journey you wish to undertake.
Step 4: Build a portfolio
When you set out to walk a new career path, your CV is bound to hold you back from accessing new opportunities due to these three agonizing words: “lack of experience”. This is why anticipation matters, because building a portfolio is essential. It is a sure way of proving that you’re good at that job you’ve applied for.
During application rejections, do you get feedback citing your lack of technical abilities? If no-one is willing to take a chance on your inexeperienced self, refine your preparations. Give companies something to show for. Build experience on your own. Come up with a fictional project if you must. If you’re feeling depressed about having to build an entire project that may bring no instant monetary gains, know this:
- Your fictional project does not need to be fancy and too time-consuming
- And regardless of whether it is or not, the reward in embarking on a fictional project is discoveries (of your strengths, weaknesses, and knowledge) and personal growth.
Bonus tip: don’t forget to post about the progress of your project(s) on your social media pages or on your blog, if you have one. It may help you attract the right audience and pull you closer to your target.
Step 5: Reach out and network
If you are looking at changing careers, you may want to invest time building new connections in the field you plan to thrive in. Network with people that fit the future you’re carving for yourself, not the comfort zone bubble you’ve built over the years with people that are neither knowledgeable nor influential in the career you wish to transition into.
If you are attending in-person events, identify the ones that are worth making the trip and spending time there. Dress how you want to be addressed. Mirror the appearance of the people in your chosen industry.
Make good use of social media. Update your profile details on Linkedin and Twitter, for example. Revamp your CV. Brand your portfolio. Get yourself a solid brochure. Refine your outreach message when attempting to make new connections. Join supportive and knowledgeable groups. Participate in key Twitter spaces. You will be surprised how much information you’ll collect from being intentional about creating a new environment that fits your next career destination.