While nearly everyone knows what it’s like to dream of finding a better, higher-paying job, most of the time, it’s within the same industry, but at a different company. Sometimes though, that wanderlust spirit to roam somewhere new isn’t just tied to your employer but to your field.
Whether you have been doing the same monotonous tasks for decades and you’ve lost your passion, or your professional expertise has become irrelevant in today’s modern workforce, there are some signs you don’t just need a new job — you need a new career.
Here, career experts explore these indicators to help guide your search:
Your position has been eliminated
As Karen Oakey, the director of human resources for Fracture puts it, a career change can speak to us in many different ways, with some who accept it quickly and others who are more resistant.
On a personal level, Oakey has experienced this crossroads herself since her bachelor’s degree is in marine science. She needed a job immediately following graduation, so she moved home to save and snagging a retail job.
She quickly was promoted to management, making great money and gaining tons of experience, eventually spending nine years as an operations manager at Wal-Mart.
But then, the industry changed. And her position was eliminated due to company restructuring. “It was one of those tougher and more painful nudges that forced me to really self-reflect on whether I wanted to stay in retail management,” she continues. “Since my family status had also changed, I did some soul searching, and I decided to try an office-based position in payroll and HR.”
She figured out she wasn’t a fan of payroll, but she found human resources very interesting. Thus, she landed in her current gig.
If you have been with a company or brand for many years, and you fear your position will no longer be needed, consider if it’s only the case with your employer or industry-wide.
In the latter case, follow Oakey’s example and think about what transferable skills you have into other professions that could be equally fulfilling, exciting — and lucrative.
You’re limited in your ability to advance
Maybe you have taken your profession to the highest level possible — and yet, you’re not satisfied. Or, no matter how hard you search for your similar gig at another company, there is a limit to your salary range and titles.
If this is the case and makes you unhappy, certified business coach Ivy Slater recommends thinking bigger picture. If you seek more out of your career, perhaps there is a similar role within the same industry that leads to better advancement and wouldn’t be a problematic pivot from your current set-up.
You aren’t challenged or fulfilled
When you log-in to your computer, check out the day’s deliverables, and think about what’s ahead of you — you can predict every motion. Every last piece of feedback. You know what’s coming, you know how to handle it — and well, you could likely do it with your eyes closed.
Everyone goes through periods in their careers where everything feels tiring and repetitive, but if this has been the case for many months (or years!), Oakey says it’s time to seek out greener, more challenging, and fulfilling pastures elsewhere.
To determine what you’re looking for in a job, Oakey recommends making a want vs. need list to guide your thinking. Maybe you need flexible working hours, but you want a more creative list of tasks. Or, you need a specific salary, but you want the opportunity to manage other people.
Deciding what is a must-have and what is a plus is a helpful way to think about a career change.
You dread every single day
Sunday Scaries aren’t an end-of-weekend headache — but an everyday hurdle. It’s also something that’s impossible to ignore since we put so much energy into our work. Or, as Slater puts it: we spend more waking hours with our job than we do with friends and family.
If the mere thought of opening your computer, having a chat with your boss, or performing your duties sparks your anxiety and makes you unhappy, you need a new job. And if you aren’t motivated by doing your same job function at another company, you may need to completely transform your career. There’s nothing worse than feeling miserable and uninspired, day-in and day-out, on repeat.
You keep thinking about going back to school
Each time you have a catch-up phone call or Zoom chat with your closest friends, you casually mention you’ve ‘been thinking about going back to school.’ In reality, you haven’t done much more than say those words out loud.
However, having this recurring idea for a period of time could indicate that you’re aching for a significant career change. Slater says to do market research and talk to folks in other industries to gain a firm understanding of what returning to the classroom would mean. And, more importantly, how it would change your career trajectory.
Then, dig in and go for it. “If the future career you want includes more training or education than you currently have, start taking action to get those credentials,” she adds.
You haven’t defined your personal or professional goals
When professionals have been with the same company for years, they get comfortable. It’s human nature and to be expected, but it brings cons along with the pros. Being super productive is positive, but never taking time to dream big or think critically of your job is a mistake.
That’s why Oakey says it’s worthwhile to answer these questions. With this insight, you’ll have a better understanding of your desire to swap jobs or industries:
- Is job rank or title important to you?
- Does your compensation fit your personal lifestyle?
- Does your career align with your personal or family needs?
- What do you like to do? How does your job give you the ability to do or to have those things?
“Once you’ve defined your personal goals, it’s easier to seek a career that aligns with your professional passions,” she continues. “It is solely up to each of us as individuals to own our paths, both professionally and personally, and these two worlds must definitely be balanced when weighing our current careers to determine if a change is in order.”