Career Change: Do You Need One

3470399603_409dbd42af_mIt’s weird to talk to my mom about jobs. She’s worked at the same nursing home forever, maybe thirty years, if not more. She left to work at a hospital for a bit, but ultimately came back. Now, she changes jobs within the organization every once in a while, but her coworkers remain the same, and more importantly, she remains in the same field.

For young professionals today, it’s a different story. No, it’s not a good idea to switch jobs every six months, but staying somewhere for three to five years can feel like an eternity. This has a lot to do with how many newer industries work. For example, let’s say you work for a website. Maybe it’s a news site, an e-commerce site, or a social media site. That doesn’t matter. What matters is, if you look at the site at the beginning of any five year stretch and then again at the end, the view will undoubtedly have changed. A lot.

This world of constant sweeping changes essentially compresses time, and for that reason, it’s not uncommon for you to want something different even after just three years.

But what kind of change you might want can vary. You might want to move on from your e-commerce site to work at another e-commerce site, or to work at a social media site. Or, and this is where it gets tough, you might want do something for a place that doesn’t end in “site” at all. You might want a whole new career in a whole new field.

From there, the path splits in three: the first path is for people who definitely know what they want to do, the second path is for people who think they know what they want to do, and the third and most difficult path is for people who don’t know what they want to do but definitely know what they don’t want to do anymore.

I’ll talk more about these paths later in coming blog posts. For now, let’s go back to the part where you want a change. Are you sure? Like, really, really sure?

School teaches you a lot of things. It can teach you how to write sentences. It can teach you how to use design programs. It can teach you how to code in a variety of different coding languages. It can’t teach you how it feels to do those things five days (or more) every week for several years. It’s like eating your favorite cereal every morning for too many mornings in a row; even things you enjoy get old.

But how old are they for you? Will you miss them when you try to do something new? Because here’s the thing: people always say looking for a job is a full-time job, and that’s true, but it leaves out the most important part, which is, looking for a job is a full-time that sucks. So if you’re feeling a little down at work, it’s only going to make you feel worse to go home, open up your laptop, and start looking for a new career.

It might be necessary, sure. But if it isn’t, then all you’ll just be spending all your decompress-after-a-hard-day/week-at-the-office time on getting yourself even more worked up than when you left. Or, to put it differently, be sure you really need a career change and not just a vacation.

Photo by flicker user Sack08, used under a Creative Commons License.

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