Career Shift or Job Change—Which Path is Right for You?

Job Got You Down?

Feeling a bit bored and restless in your job?

Wondering what else is out there that might challenge you?

Does one more day working for your boss feel like an eternity?

Fantasizing about turning in your resignation letter and walking out to the cheers of those poor saps left behind who can only live vicariously through your courageous career move?

image of professional woman bored at workChances are, you’ve spent time in one or more of those states of mind. It’s normal, particularly if you’re feeling under-utilized or under-appreciated, or if you’ve been involved in the same grind for an extended period.

You Have a Choice to Make:

For the majority of people, a job change might be just the ticket to rejuvenate their spirits and increase work satisfaction. For others, however, a like-kind job change feels like an extended prison sentence. The issue isn’t about exchanging logos on a business card or trade show badge, or, trading in one boss and office and routine for others that are strangely similar. They’re looking for a career shift—something that taps into their collected wisdom and well-honed skills but is distinctly different from anything they’ve done on a commercial basis before.

If you’re feeling that tug of “It’s time to do something different,” it pays to spend some time sorting through whether you are best served by a job change or a wholesale career shift. As you might imagine, the two paths are radically different in scale, scope, timing, effort, and risk.

As an aside, many who reach out to me do so ostensibly believing they want a career change. Through a series of discussions, more often than not, we determine a job change is the right move at this point in time.

Here are some criteria for you to consider if you feel it’s time to do something in your career.

Career Shift or Job Change—Which Path is Right for You?

A Job Change is Great is If:

  • You like your work but don’t care for the environment or culture.
  • You are motivated to climb the ladder in your area of specialization and opportunities for advancement are lean in your current firm.
  • You want to parlay your experience and skills in support of a new role. For example, you work in customer service and want to move into sales via account management.
  • You like your work but don’t care for your industry.

While changing jobs involves hard work and solid marketing on your part, it’s a fairly straight-forward process in contrast to navigating a wholesale career change.

A Career Change is In Order If:

  • The idea of doing the same work for much longer gives you brain cramps
  • You’re driven to pursue a cause you care deeply about in your life.
  • You perceive there’s a different purpose you must fulfill at this stage of your life.
  • You’re of sound mind when it comes to potentially throwing away whatever industry or vocational equity you’ve cultivated.
  • You’re innately incapable of working for someone else. (Beware this one as we all work for customers and sometimes working for yourself is a lot worse than the worst boss.)
  • You have skills that readily transfer to entirely different formats.
  • You’re looking for an adventure and willing to suffer the fate of many adventurers.

(Check out my additional articles on career reinvention, including, The Six Stages of Career Reinvention.)

Where’s Passion in This Picture?

What about the plea of, “I want to do something I’m passionate about,” I hear from so many individuals?

The passion discussion is always an interesting one. I ascribe to the theory that passion makes for great hobbies, but often fails us when it comes to paying the bills. In my REINVENT™ framework, we explore the issues of passion and purpose but impose a filter that there must be an identifiable means and reasonable opportunity for you to meet your financial objectives as well. That reduces most passions to great hobbies.

My minor contradiction comes in the issue I raised above of pursuing a cause you care about in your life. Once we tune into purpose, there are many causes you can pursue to manifest purpose—assuming, of course, we can complete the financial side of the equation.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

I’m a big fan of advice my Dad gave me: measure twice, cut once. It applies to everything, and especially to job and career moves. A wholesale career change is a mega-project filled with excitement and discovery wrapped in unknowns and risks. For most of us, the right job, company, or industry change is energizing and exciting. For the rest, the work of reinventing your career is the work of a lifetime. Just be prepared for a wild ride.

Art's Signature

By |2018-11-09T08:14:15+00:00November 9th, 2018|Career, Career Reinvention|0 Comments

About the Author:

Art Petty is a coach, speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.

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