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When Should You Think About Changing Your Career?


Your last week on the job has been completely frustrating. Nothing seems to be good enough for the boss. Maybe this is not the career you want to be in; maybe you’d be happier doing something else. Maybe you should get back to painting, or doing theater, something you were passionate about in school. But hold on, don’t quit just yet. Here are a few tips that would help figure out if a career switch is right for you.

career change

(Photo Credit: Grant Cochrane/

Even the best of us have bad days or weeks. But sometimes, that’s just it. It may be a passing phase — a tough project, a high-pressure month, or a lean period with nothing challenging. While it’s easy to decide to move on, it’s sometimes wise to stay put and wait it out.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Start thinking about a career change only if:

You lack the interest and/drive:

Evaluate whether it’s just your current role in your current organization or your field itself. Would you be OK working on a different project in the same field? Or maybe even in a different organization? Then maybe it’s not that you want to change careers; you’re just looking for new challenges or new options in your field.

There are no/limited opportunities in your current field:

Is your job outdated? Is the market no longer seeking out your skills? Then you’re right, maybe it is time to look for a new career, but even in doing so, remember you can use your current skills as a starting point and build on them. Exploring a completely different field, although alluring, would require a lot of investment of time and money, so weigh out the benefits of having some sort of experience in the new field vs. starting a fresh.

You’re really passionate about something, and you want to seek out opportunities:

You may have loved photography and were passionate about it, but when you started out, there weren’t as many opportunities. But now, you see a plethora of options; maybe, for example, you want to look into social media careers. Options like these are new and upcoming. While you need to considerably up-skill yourself, you may also find roles where your current skills can be of use.

Your current job will not take you where you want to go:

You love interacting with kids and building a curriculum for them, but you work as a software engineer. You want to get into social activism, but you work as a marketing manager. While you can still look for overlapping opportunities, sooner or later you need to make a call. Weigh in your options and assess how important your aspirations are in your life situation. Can you take a risk? If not now, when?

Know that with a few exceptions, a new career could mean starting from scratch. And if you’ve been working for a while, it’s not going to be easy. You need to reestablish yourself, network with new people, and understand your new passion from a professional standpoint, and you cannot hit the ground running immediately. But know that career paths can be changed. Do a thorough research of options available to you, talk to a career counselor, build on your strengths, gain new skills, and be aware that you will need to be patient and dedicated in your quest. It will take time, but your commitment will pay off.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you made a career change? What made you decide to move on? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Padmaja Ganeshan Singh
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