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The Side Dish

How to Recognize It’s Time for a Career Change

Katie Martinez / 6.5.2018

In a familiar scene on Friends, Ross purchases a new couch and asks Rachel and Chandler for help moving it up to his apartment. Because it’s a comedy, there isn’t an elevator. This scenario forces them up the tight staircase, and the plan and subsequent attempt to get the couch up just one single flight of stairs goes horribly wrong.

While I’ve never actually bought a couch (haven’t achieved that adulting badge yet), I appreciate that Ross had a plan (he HAD a sketch) and recognized when it was time to pivot. Like the couch, our jobs can get us stuck, and we need a career change to steer us in a new direction.

A Pivot, Not a Hop

I’m not just talking about job hopping here. Although as a millennial, I recognize that our generation likes to jump around (and get down). A 2016 Gallup report called us “the job-hopping generation.” This same report noted that 21 percent of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who answered the same question. Yikes.

We like change. We’ve always got our eyes open for it and we’re OK with that. With a new job might come a better fit, a better salary or a better rung on the ol’ corporate ladder.

But what happens when a “hop” isn’t enough?

Find What Fuels You

Let’s face it – as we get older, life changes. Our lifestyle changes, priorities change and what fuels our soul changes. And sometimes that change results in a dissonance between our life and our job. The work/life balance scale starts to go off kilter.

So, how do we start to stabilize? We can start by researching and learning about different industries, coming to understand how they work and what the day-to-day is like. For example, advertising agencies tend to be fast paced with quick decisions and tight deadlines. But they are also environments ripe with creativity that actually value playtime (and dance parties).

Do you want more structure and a conventional routine, or do you prefer your work time to be more fluid and flexible? Do you flourish in a group or office setting or are you more productive working remotely? Make sure that as you consider a pivot, you’re headed into the right industry.

Challenge and Expand Your Experience

Think about your current job responsibilities. Challenge yourself to think more broadly about them and how they may apply to something else. We can fall victim to tunnel vision – I’ve always done this, so that is all I can do.

career change

Our jobs can get us stuck, and we need a career change to steer us in a new direction.

But there are things that we do every day that can apply to many, many jobs. They are our transferable skills. Paul Petrone, an editor at LinkedIn Learning, suggests that the importance of transferable skills has surpassed that of knowledge. He writes, “With so much information so easily accessible, and with that information always changing, expertise on a specific topic matters less. What matters more is how quickly a person can learn and use new information in the best way possible.”

Let those transferable skills shine! Communication, interpersonal skills, creativity, leadership and multitasking are all examples of skills we learn throughout our careers. They come whether you are a doctor or a chef or an account director at an advertising agency in Arizona.

Change is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to end in you cutting a couch in half. The more you know what you want and where you might find it, the better you can market yourself and go for it. Ya know, pivot.