Does switching careers mean you’re not happy at work?

By Robert Half 24th April 2018

Switching careers is a normal part of today’s working world. And yet the decision to take the leap can sometimes draw hesitation and doubt about you’re current situation.

There are many reasons for why you might consider switching careers. You might be seeking increased remuneration or development opportunities; maybe you’re eager to foray into a new industry all together. Perhaps you’re looking for a better cultural fit, and sometimes, you’ll switch careers because you’re no longer happy at work. While this latter reason is a reality, it’s only one of many drivers of change, and it shouldn’t sour what can be a positive experience for your career.

Here’s why switching careers indicates progress and optimism, and why it’s often the happiest candidates that make the switch.

The benefits of switching careers

Contrary to making you seem unhappy or dissatisfied in your current role, changing careers can reveal that you’re a confident, ambitious and forward-thinking candidate. Here are several benefits of switching careers:

You’re a keen learner

Seeking greater development opportunities and more personal growth by switching careers demonstrates that you’re a candidate that’s eager to grow and embrace change. Not only will your skills and experience expand from the change, but you’ll be seen as a self-starter and someone with great initiative by prospective employers.

You’re independent and empowered

In Robert Half’s Work Happy report, Nic Marks, CEO and founder of Happiness Works, comments that a sense of autonomy and freedom is a fundamental need for people. “Feeling that we can make our own decisions is a critical part of being a human,” says Marks. Switching careers exhibits your strong decision-making qualities and shows you as someone who won’t stagnate. That’s definitely a plus.

You seek meaning from your work

If you’re contemplating switching careers to find more meaningful and engaging work, this is extremely positive. Robert Half’s Work Happy report also found that employees who say the work they do is worthwhile are 2.4 times more likely to be happy than those who feel the job they do is “just work”. Taking pride in the work you do gives you drive to achieve and exceed goals, another quality desired by employers across all industries.

You understand the importance of goals

Being happy and enthused about your work is key to physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. If you’re switching careers to find a role you truly enjoy, then it shows you’re a candidate who has an innate understanding of how to set goals and strive towards them.

Tips for a successful career change

If you’re keen on a career change, there are several steps that can be enacted to ensure it’s a positive experience. Here are five simple tips to follow:

1. Develop an action plan

Create a list of your interests, skills, and experiences you have to establish how you’ll make a transition into your new role or industry. Map out steps detailing how you’ll make the change, identifying solutions to any possible roadblocks that might arise. Being prepared and realistic about switching careers will ensure it’s a rewarding and educational process.

2. Undertake a trial

Before jumping ship, consider trying the new position to ensure you know exactly what it is, and what you may enjoy about it. Pursue any internal secondments or internships available, try working freelance, and speak at length with people who work in that role or industry.

3. Be gracious

Once you’ve committed to switching careers, be sure to thank your employer for the opportunities provided during your tenure. Celebrate the most positive and enjoyable elements of the role. Additionally, avoid criticising the organisation once you leave. It won’t reflect well on you and will endanger good relationships and the likelihood of a reference from the organisation.

4. Stay in touch with former colleagues

By fostering good relationships with your former employer and colleagues you’ll develop a network that is vast and diverse. Even if you’re switching careers to change industry, transitioning from the finance industry to the IT sector for example, cross-industry relationships are important. You never know when a contact from a past role might be needed.

5. Avoid switching careers too often

A candidate who switches careers frequently might be seen as lacking loyalty by prospective employers. Onboarding and training new staff takes time and costs an organisation money, making it risky to hire candidates who aren’t deemed to be truly committed. Be prepared to explain multiple career switches, adding that despite several changes, you still developed your skills and accomplished goals.

Switching careers doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not happy in your job. More often than not, it represents your keenness to grow and develop your career.

Whether or not you choose to take action will depend solely on how willing and interested you are to take the leap of finding a new job. As a specialised recruitment company, Robert Half can assist you with this job search, helping you to identify what transferrable skills you may have and what career path is right for you.

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