QUESTION: I’m unhappy in my job but I can’t make a career change right now. What do you suggest?
Not an uncommon situation yet quitting a job without a plan is risky. Start by evaluating, researching, and planning. Explore career options, assess enjoyable tasks and ones you loathe, identify organizations of interest, and create a career transition plan. Evaluate skill gaps and take classes. Network and ask questions about careers. Update your resume to align with your new career goals.
Don’t let your unhappiness show, be a professional until the day you leave. Now is the perfect time to start a “Brag File.” Document accomplishments, completed projects, kudos emails and copies of performance reviews, which will not be easy to obtain once you leave. Use all this great information and have your resume professionally composed to generate positive momentum!
Changing careers is a series of baby steps—many of which can be taken while you’re still at your current job. So take some baby steps! 1) Make a list of what you need to succeed in your NEXT position. Develop any skills now you’ll need for the future. 2) Grow your network to make the job hunt easier when the time comes. 3) Keep your resume and LinkedIn fresh and updated to be ready for the future.
Seek out alternative opportunities to change up your current job. Express an interest in contributing to a new project, join a professional consortium to increase your learning opportunities or volunteer to serve on a Board. Adding variety and challenge to your current position can change up your daily routine and demonstrate to leadership you may be ready for a promotion.
The good news is you can begin your career change *before* you leave your current employer. Follow your interests and bend your job in the direction of your next career. Make a suggestion to your manager and offer to take the lead. Create opportunities in other departments with people you respect. Volunteer for a new initiative. Shadow a colleague doing the work you desire. Start changing now.
If you are stuck for now, use the time to map out your plan for a career change when the time is right! I recommend identifying companies of interest, nurturing your network and closing any skills gap with online or classroom learnings. That way when the time is right — you are ready to hit the ground running!
GET EQUIPPED 1. Team with a career coach If you need help to identify your change. 2. Optimize your resume towards your target, include a brand message, valued-based bullets/stories, and rich with relevant keywords. 3. Heighten your LinkedIn Profile to get found by recruiters. 4. Create a target company list and start nurturing network connections. 5. It’s too important, don’t do it alone.
Three things. First, you can ensure that your knowledge, skills, and abilities are in competitive condition for your dream job search by taking classes or online courses to fill gaps. Second, document (and measure) the last 10 years of career accomplishments for your new resume. Third, do special things for yourself that make you feel happier NOW, both at work and away from it. And use your PTO!
Find your happy! The fact that you continue to get up and go to work every day indicates that something is serving you by staying. Even if it’s just the guaranteed paycheck every two weeks, be grateful for it and focus your energy on the joy that it brings. Because, if you’re stuck in this job, you need to keep your sanity as long as possible while you define your exit strategy. Find your happy!
Whether or not you are currently free to make a career change, “now” is always the best time to sharpen your job search skills, update/improve your resume, reach out to potential mentors who can guide you, practice your interview skills, or explore the networking environment. While you’re at it, consider taking an assessment of your credentials and enrolling in a professional development course.
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