When to change careers

Sometimes, you just know that you don’t like what you’re doing and need a change. Whether it’s your job, your field, or your career, you may choose to do something different. Your instincts will tell you when to change careers.

Many examples exist throughout history of people who gave in to this desire and felt rewarded in doing so. Grandma Moses is perhaps the most famous example, a farmer and housewife who became a world-famous painter late in her life. Lots of people in the tech and entertainment industries got their start in other fields, too. Harrison Ford was once a carpenter.

While you’re unlikely to enjoy the same level of success as Grandma Moses or Harrison Ford, your new career could feasibly provide you a similar amount of personal satisfaction. If your gut says to go, you should go.

Several reasons exist for why you should change careers. Some of the best ones are:

Your job duties don’t match your skills

Before you interview for a position, you don’t always know exactly what your job duties will entail. You can only go by the brief job listing description of work duties given by the employer. That’s why the hiring process has several steps. Both parties, hiring company and potential employee, want to make sure that the job is a good fit. Despite due diligence, a job title doesn’t always match a person’s skill.

When you’re working at a job that’s a bad fit, you won’t feel excited each day. More importantly, you won’t feel qualified to do the job well. You’re more likely to make mistakes in this situation, which could hurt your career. It could also cost the company a lot of money. You don’t want to get a reputation as someone who does more harm than good.

You feel like you’re wasting your talents

You also don’t want to feel like you’re overqualified for your current job. Every year that you don’t have more to show for your job history is a lost one. You need to add skills, experience, and other qualifications that prove you’re improving in your career. Otherwise, your resume won’t impress other hirers, leaving you stuck in your current job. And that’s the one where you feel like your skills are going to waste.

If your job doesn’t offer opportunities for growth, speak to your boss. Ask about new duties or promotional opportunities. If your boss can’t come up with any good options, you need to make a career change.

You only care about the paycheck

Would you quit tomorrow if you didn’t have bills to pay? Your salary is obviously the reason you work. It keeps a roof over your head, but money isn’t everything. You spend most of your waking hours on the job. When you don’t care what you’re doing most of the day, something’s wrong.

If you’re only working at a job to get a paycheck, you should make a list of potential companies that could offer you more fulfillment. You’re already emotionally checked out of your current job, after all. It’s lazy and counterproductive to stay there when better options are available elsewhere. Also, you’re taking advantage of the goodwill of your employer. When they pay for your services, they deserve an engaged worker who cares about the job.

You can make more money elsewhere

The flip side of caring about the paycheck is that more money is always a possibility elsewhere. Your employer hires you in exchange for a decent wage. Just as you owe it to them to work hard and act engaged, they owe it to you to pay you fair market value.

Sadly, companies have a tendency to value employees outside the company more than the people already working in the building. They pay more to poach the best employees from other companies. Don’t think of the situation as a negative, though. It actually helps you. While your own company might not negotiate with you as if you’re a free agent, those other companies will. You simply need to market yourself as available on the open market. Some career changes involve huge salary increase. Let potential employers bargain for your services.

You don’t like the company

This complaint happens a lot. People interview for jobs with companies that they like. Then, they start a career there, only to discover that the place is toxic. Some businesses have issues with mismanagement. Others show signs of bankruptcy. In some instances, the issue is a difficult boss. Whatever the reason, when you lose faith in the company, you have a problem. You no longer love what you do.

This issue isn’t as finite as the others, though. Companies with poor management often make changes to correct the issue. Similarly, if you don’t like your boss, you can speak to Human Resources about changing the situation. You may even try to find a new, better job in the same company as a way of escaping an unlikable boss. The only true deal-breaker is if your employer has financial woes. If they’re performing layoffs on a consistent basis or your department keeps facing budget cuts, you should look for a new employer, possibly one in an entirely new industry.

A recruiter contacts you

Recruiters are in the business of finding new jobs for workers. Your level of satisfaction with your current job is irrelevant. Companies pay recruiters to fill positions, so recruiters need bodies. They are always looking for new, talented people who are willing to switch jobs if the pay is right.

Even if you’re not actively seeking a new job, you should always make friends with any recruiter you meet. They’ll always have your best interests at heart. To a recruiter, you’re not quite a customer. That’s the employer looking to hire people. You are, however, a means to an end for a recruiter.

As long as you show skill in your field, they’ll remember you each time a job is available. If a recruiter contacts you with a job that pays better or has better growth opportunity, you should consider it. That’s true even if the new work is in an entirely different field. Sometimes, a recruiter has a better idea of where the job market is going than you do. Once you’ve built a relationship with this person, trust them to know if a new career will suit you better.

A friend makes an offer

One of the best parts of the working world is that you get to build relationships. Some of these bonds are so strong that you hate the idea of your friend getting a new job. Unfortunately that still happens from time to time, but it comes with a hidden benefit.

Your former coworker may find a new job that suits you better. Once they’ve settled in with the new company and developed new relationships, they can recommend you to others. It’s like having a recruiter with only one client: you. Your ally will sell you in hopes of a reunion at a new, better company. Plus, it’s one that presumably offers better pay. Should that sort of opportunity arise, it’s worthy of a career change.

Your dream job calls

Everyone has that one company where they’ve always wanted to work. People will take literally any job at these businesses in order to get their foot in the door. Apple and Google are great examples of tech companies that are in high demand.

Perhaps the most famous example, however, is The Walt Disney Company. People grow up watching Disney cartoons and fantasize about how they want to work at the happiest place on Earth one day. Workers sometimes wait a year or more to get any job opening at Disney. They maintain their current career until their dream job opens.

Whether you want to work for Apple, Google, Mickey Mouse, or somebody else, the principle is the same. Should that dream company ever call with a job offer, you should take it, no matter what they ask you to do. Personal happiness matters.

Independent of the rationale, you should always feel open to a new career. At the end of the day, your happiness is what matters.

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