The biggest sign that you need to switch up your career is feeling burnt out and unmotivated on a daily basis. And if you want to change things up, switching companies isn’t your only option: you could expand your current responsibilities, build new skills, develop a side-hustle or even take some time off to think.
In our Startup Life newsletter, we spoke to Yana Maeva, career coach and head of people at insurtech Embea, for her top tips on deciding what’s next.
Assess your current situation
What is it about your job that’s making it hard to climb out of bed in the morning? Is there something wrong with the current company (the leadership or team culture?) — or with the job itself (that it doesn’t challenge you or suit your skill set?).
Identifying what you like and don’t like about your current job will help you understand whether you need to leave your current employer, or whether you could internally switch roles. If it’s the former, ask yourself:
- Where are you at right now?
- Where do you want to go?
- What opportunities could there be?
- What are the possible threats and how can you minimise them? And are there any gaps (i.e. do you need further education or training to get the job that you aspire to)?
Seek out new opportunities
What are your passions? What do you love doing — or what are aspects of your previous jobs that you loved — that you could get paid for?
The best way to get inspired is to start talking to people and collecting ideas. Ask your network, or find out online about local career meetups where professionals exchange ideas and give career advice for free. The Mentoring Club is also a great not-for-profit platform to ask seasoned leaders for advice.
If there’s a specific job or industry you’d like to transition into, who in your network could introduce you to someone in that field? Also, look up people on LinkedIn and ask if you can schedule a chat with them (just be prepared to get some nos or non-replies).
Analyse what you need to reach your goals
An exercise I often do with clients when they have a goal in mind — whether it’s securing a new job or starting their own business — is future pacing: where you put yourself in the future and imagine the journey you would have to take to reach that particular goal.
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For example, if you want to become a software engineer in three years with a salary of £100k, pace backwards to figure out the milestones you’d have to reach — the job offer, the interview process, getting the relevant qualifications — and what you’d need to do to get to each one. It makes faraway goals feel like they could be a reality.
It’s a good idea to map out at least a few methods for beginning your journey as you may make a few false starts. You might want to contact others and ask how they got into their particular roles, or enroll yourself in an evening writing class or coding bootcamp to give yourself a taste of what jobs are out there — and if you’d be good at them.
Manage your finances
Before you make the leap into the unknown, you need to ensure that this move will be financially viable. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Can you learn new skills/develop a new career while maintaining a full-time job? Can you learn in the evenings/weekends, for example, reduce the number of working hours with your current employer or switch to a part-time job/freelance?
- Where can you get extra help from? Can your partner/family support you? Can you create a side gig to make extra income?
- How can you optimise your current obligations? Who can you delegate certain things to? (childcare, housework). Where can you reduce expenses?
- Are you entitled to unemployment benefits? Job seekers in Germany, for instance, can apply for an education voucher (Bildungsgutschein) and learn various professions while receiving unemployment benefits.
To help you assess your financial situation, make a budget spreadsheet to monitor your ingoings and outgoings and figure out where you could save money.
Be prepared to start from the bottom
If you are switching your career to something radically different, keep in mind that you might have to start at the bottom of the ladder and gain experience before bagging senior roles. A client of mine, for example, trained to be a UX/UI designer at the age of 35, and then started with a junior internship in a company. She’s happy with the decision she took — but it takes courage and planning to start from scratch.
On the subject of... Changing careers
🪜 Deciding what’s next. Career coach Ellen Donnelly, who runs an excellent weekly newsletter called ‘The Ask,’ has a 10-step guideto help you choose which moves to make.
💎 Is self-employment right for you? Another gem from Donnelly about deciding whether becoming self-employed — whether it’s going freelance or starting your own business — is a good choice for you.
🛑 10 signs you need to quit. Are you burned out, demotivated or just in it for the money? These might be signs you need to change your job.
📚 Stories of career changes. An oldie — but this piece from The New York Times shows how identifying a niche, and filling it, can make for a successful career change.
👩🏾🎓 Changing careers early in life. Preparing your resume with applicable transferable skills and being willing to do further education are just some of the things you’ll need to do to pivot your career as a young professional.