“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.” They’re not just the lyrics from a Kenny Rogers song; they’re also words of wisdom for anyone thinking of changing careers. But how do you know when to make a leap of faith, and when to hold on tight for a better opportunity down the line? Start by doing a little soul-searching, and ask yourself the following questions.
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1. Do you hate your job, or your career?
It’s quite easy to confuse hating your employer or your role with hating your career. Not all companies or bosses are created equal. Before you think your career is doomed because of one bad manager or unfulfilling job, consider whether or not your employer is the reason for all of your career strife lately, or whether it’s time to move on to a whole new career.
2. Is it a money issue?
If your career doesn’t make dollars, then it doesn’t make sense, right? Well, not exactly. It’s that type of mentality that results in many professionals being stuck in dead-end careers that they hate, simply because they had their eye on the money and not their passions. If this sounds all-too-familiar to you right now, then I’m sorry you had to learn the hard way that money doesn’t buy happiness, especially in one’s career. Use this tool to figure out what career path is most suiting for you based on your strengths, weaknesses, and interests.
If you did follow your passions and feel that you’re not getting paid what you’re worth (find out what that is, here), then chances are, you’re seeking greener pastures because you feel underappreciated and underpaid – and that’s totally understandable. Even though money isn’t everything in your career, it can be terribly uninspiring and discouraging if you’re not earning a wage that’s appropriate for your qualifications and skill set. If this is the case, then it’s time to spruce up on your negotiation skills and see if a salary boost can’t improve your mood and your career. Use PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide to help you research, strategize, and negotiate your way to a higher salary.
3. Is it feasible to switch careers right now?
Just because you’re miserable in your career, doesn’t mean it’s possible for you to throw in the towel just yet. The reality is, your job is what keeps a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and food in your belly, so it’s wise to stay put until you find another job or option that provides the type of financial means you need – unless you don’t mind living without a paycheck (or basic necessities).
Also keep in mind that switching careers could be more difficult than you think. For instance, the skills you’ve acquired and utilized in your current career may not be applicable in your new, prospective career. Moreover, additional education or training may be required to even land a job in certain industry, especially ones that are technical in nature. It’s a good idea to do your research on the industry/job, to learn about the following key considerations: requirements, barriers to entry, earning potential, stability, growth, etc.
Hopefully, these tips will help you feel more comfortable answering the question, “Should I stay, or should I go?” Take your time weighing your options so that you don’t end up making any rash decisions that could cost your career big time – because it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when your future is on the line.
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