Being comfortable in your job is a great feeling. You know the routine; you have the skills; you’re friendly with your co-workers; and you understand the business. But sticking with a job you know doesn’t always mean sticking with a job you love.
More and more people are finding they are dissatisfied at work but are scared to leave their comfortable job, unsure if they have the skills to reenter the competitive job market and worried about the process of job hunting again.
The right time to make a change is when your job no longer aligns with your personal or professional goals. Yes, it will be scary to quit your job, and yes, you will likely have to learn new skills, but don’t let that stop you. The average adult spends 1⁄3 of their life at work! So why not spend that time doing something you enjoy?
In this article, we will discuss how to recognize when it’s time for a career change, how to find a new career that aligns with your goals, and a step-by-step approach to getting ready for the change.
The benefits of leaving a comfortable job you’re not happy with
We are all looking for the perfect job that makes us excited to go to work. And while loving your job is a benefit in itself, finding a career that aligns with your personal goals can offer more benefits than just enjoying Mondays again.
Enjoying your work makes you better at it! Who knew? Job happiness is specifically linked with job productivity, with satisfied employees being 12% more productive than those that aren’t.
Improved physical and mental health
Considering how much time we spend at work, it's no surprise that those with higher job satisfaction report lower stress and anxiety levels in other areas of life. Burnout and dissatisfaction can affect your physical health and mental well-being, so focusing on finding a job you enjoy will have lasting, long-term benefits.
You may already possess all the skills needed for your current position, but when we stop learning, we stop finding out what we’re capable of. Learning new skills, taking on new challenges, seeking mentorships and cross-training all help you expand your skill set and discover new projects that align better with your goals.
If you're uncertain about which skills to pick up or enhance, use the tool below to receive a list of skills that are relevant to your current job or the one you wish to secure.
When to leave: Signs it’s time for a change
So how do you know when a career change is right for you? Being scared to leave your job, especially if you’re comfortable, is understandable. But if you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve been considering a change for a while.
Here are a few signs that your dissatisfaction might be more than just a bad week, and it might be time to consider leaving a comfortable job for growth and something new.
Stagnation and lack of growth opportunities
You’ve held the same position for years, with no room for advancement or career growth, and have reached the highest position available to you. Your responsibilities have remained unchanged, and you feel unchallenged by your work and unsatisfied with the same routine.
Boredom and lack of passion
You constantly find your work tasks boring and lack motivation. Time passes slowly at work, and you often daydream about what else you could be doing.
Your company’s values conflict with your personal ethics. Perhaps you want to work for an employer who values diversity and inclusivity, and feel unable to be yourself at your current workplace.
Your job is causing stress and anxiety, negatively affecting your personal relationships and mental health. You’re experiencing burnout and no longer enjoy projects you used to find fulfilling.
When to stay: Reasons to stick it out a little longer
Before making a leap, it's essential to evaluate if there are valid reasons to stay in your current position. Here are some actionable steps to help you decide:
- Set clear objectives: Define what you want to achieve in the next six months. If these objectives align with your current role, it might be worth staying.
- Seek feedback: Schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your career growth and potential opportunities within the company.
- Explore lateral moves: Sometimes, a change in department or role within the same company can reignite passion and offer new challenges.
- Engage in skill development: If you feel stagnant, consider taking courses or attending workshops that can enhance your skills and make your current role more engaging.
- Re-evaluate in six months: Set a reminder to reassess your feelings and situation in six months. If you still feel the same, it might be time to move on.
How to transition from your comfortable job to one you really love
Once you’ve decided to make a career change, knowing where to start can be daunting. Here is an easy-to-follow plan to guide you through the process.
Make a list of the kind of work that excites you and the skills you want to explore in your new career. Do you want to be more creative, take on more responsibility, or make a difference in your community? Consider the work structure you’re looking for; remote, freelance, part-time or full-time. Are you willing to relocate? And what kind of salary are you looking for?
Next, make a list of your strengths, both personally and professionally. Think about your previous jobs and the areas you excelled at. This will provide you with a comprehensive ‘wish list’ of the kind of job you’re looking for.
2. Identify your transferable skills
“I’m scared to leave my job after 20 years! I don’t have any transferable skills!” Sound familiar?
In all of your past work experience, be it 20 years or one month, you will find transferable skills. These are the skills you use every day that will be an asset to any future employer. To find your transferable skills, make a list of your daily roles and responsibilities, and consider what is needed to perform these tasks well. Common transferable skills include leadership, communication, research and management, but consider all your past experiences when looking for your skills. These skills will form the backbone of your career change resume.
3. Market research
The next step is market research. Look into industries that meet the needs you listed above and research the kind of roles available. How do these roles line up with your wish list? Do they meet some or all of your goals? Use our career profiles tool to browse similar jobs for inspiration and lists of alternative careers and related job fields.
Once you have found a role that interests you, browse open job postings on LinkedIn and Indeed in your desired field to see how your current skills align with the new job requirements.
4. Passive job search
Looking for work whilst you’re currently employed gives you ample time to search and explore further training opportunities whilst you’re still employed. Network with professionals in your desired field, connect with recruiters on LinkedIn, and keep an eye open for potential leads and job openings.
Once you’ve found a career path you’re interested in, it’s time to get ready to apply.
- Update your resume. Follow our step-by-step guide to tailoring your resume for a career change by focussing on transferable skills and quantified experience. Writing your resume can be challenging, but our resume tools are here to provide personalized feedback on how to improve and help target your resume with keywords and skills.
- Optimize your LinkedIn profile for your new job search to bolster your chances of success.
- Consider attending additional training courses to tailor your resume to your new field. Even a few online courses can help a new employer see your dedication to your new profession.
Once your resume and online profiles are ready, it’s as simple as clicking apply. Remember, a standard job search can take 3-6 months, so don’t be put off if you’re not immediately successful. Focus on updating your resume, searching for job openings that match your goals, and applying selectively to jobs that really interest you.