Do I Need a New Career or a New Job?

We all experience stress at work (if you don’t, figure out why and tell the rest of us). This stress could come from a variety of sources, but the result is often the same. You start to wonder if you are in the right place, if all hours you are investing in this career are worth it.  This is a common reason that people might initially consider career consultation.  But before we dive headlong into a entire career shift, it can be worthwhile to consider whether these problems come from a poor career fit or poor fit to a specific position.

We all experience stress at work (if you don’t, please figure out why and then tell the rest of us).

If you are feeling out of place, here are a few questions that could be used to help illuminate the issue:

  1. How diversified is my field? Some fields, like law, are very broad and different positions can vary quite a bit. If you generally enjoy the tasks of your job, consider a lateral move to another branch of the same career area. This may still take some retraining, but the likelihood of transferable skills is higher.
  2. Is the problem related to just one or two people at the job rather than the job itself? Interpersonal relationships can dramatically affect how much we enjoy a job.
  3. How long have you been in the job? Big changes (even good changes) can often bring with them increased stress. Give a new job a fair trial before you decide that the job or career path are not for you.
  4. Is this job typical of the general career path? Related to #1 above, some jobs are so unique that they may not be a good representation of the career you initially chose. Don’t be too hasty to throw out a career if you’ve only experienced a niche position.
  5. Is this job leading to something better? Though it probably varies by field, we often have to pay our dues in order to advance to our preferred job.  Consider whether or not it is worth your while to stick it out if you think it could be a stepping stone to something better.

Asking yourselves questions like these can serve a few purposes: first they can slow us down long enough to make sure that we’re truly responding to poor career fit (evidenced by a pattern/longer period of dissatisfaction or poor feedback) rather than a brief conflict or stress, and secondly they can prompt some reflection on the nature of the problem, making a repeat less likely.

Finally, its important to keep in mind your other life goals.  Perhaps your current job is close to your home, or your children’s daycare.  Perhaps it allows you to serve a cause you really believe in, or pays well enough that you can frequently travel.  These are factors that can slip through the cracks of the daily grind.

Owner, primary consultant for MNCC
Apr 04, 2017