Greener Pastures – Is a Career Change in Your Future?

Have you been feeling restless in your career lately? Or, have you been wondering what’s next even though you have enjoyed a successful career progression as an executive?

Managing your career is similar to keeping your body in shape-positive thinking and high-quality input will keep it healthy and growing. Just like an annual check-up ensures you’re in good physical condition, it’s important to monitor your career in the same way. Ask yourself at regular intervals if your career development is as it should be-or needs a new focus, direction or energy. If your work life seems stalled and you feel dissatisfied, a career change may be in order as the new year approaches.

A change in your occupation may be the right move for you.

You may feel that changing to an entirely different field at this point in your life is too risky, but with careful planning, it’s possible. You can’t really know what could be possible until you investigate further. In fact, you may discover related possibilities that don’t require a dramatic change or reduction in salary.

A recent client, a governmental relations executive, was quite successful but didn’t feel fulfilled professionally. After career assessment and time to think through his needs and interests, he realized that he’d be much more satisfied in a leadership role serving a non-profit organization. However, he didn’t want to relinquish such a lucrative income. His employer’s active community involvement program was just the change he needed. My client negotiated a new position, remaining part time in governmental relations while assuming responsibilities as liaison with non-profit groups that his company seeks to benefit. And, he did not have to take a salary cut. Had he not taken stock to examine his career situation and investigated his options, he’d still be feeling restless and bored.

Taking stock of your career satisfaction

Not sure if you are ready for a change? To measure your career satisfaction level, check all questions that are applicable. Then, tally your score below.

Have you considered a career change for over six months?
Have duties been taken away from you?
Has it been longer than three years since you had a promotion?
Are you concerned about job security?
Do you feel underpaid?
Do you feel unappreciated?
Is your job affecting your health?
In your present position, are you repeating yourself (not growing in responsibility)?
Has a colleague, a member of your family, or a friend suggested you search for another job?
Are your duties increasing without a pay increase?
Does work interfere with your personal life?
Do you suspect a lay-off, takeover, or company merger?
Are rewards and recognition for your work hard to come by?
Are you concerned about the quality of your company’s product or service?
Is your company falling behind competitively in today’s tough market?
Are you excluded from the decision-making process?
Is your present position keeping you from meeting your goals?
Are you in need of more income than your job is providing?
Have you already mentally shut yourself out from your job?

Total Check Marks

If you scored 1 -5: Basically, you’re satisfied. Use those as indicators of where to apply yourself to make your present job better.

If you scored 6 – 10: You may have peaked or begun a transitional period. It may be time to investigate ways to expand. Look within your company first. You may discover a new project or opportunity that may use your abilities as well as incorporate your goals.
If you scored 11 or more: Serious work is needed to address your situation. If these things go unchecked, you’ll find yourself one of the first victims of a downsizing, or stuck in a no-growth situation. Again, always work on the present situation along with any job search.

Setting the stage for successful career change

We’ve heard it before-our thinking sets the stage for action. A winning spirit shows that you believe things can change for the better. That is, if you feel hopeless, your career may seem hopeless as well. However, if you revitalize your thought processes and become more optimistic, your career can take a positive step forward as well.

Realize that you’re the only person who can make things happen in your life. When you understand and accept this, you’ll develop the courage to take careful risks and manage a successful career change. Don’t stake your career future on any employer’s goodwill. Your company could fold or be acquired. Given this climate of uncertainty, professional survival requires creative self-reliance-which can lead to new and better opportunities.

Charting a new course

Mental obstacles caused by the fear that your age, educational attainment, ethnic background, gender or current workplace limitations are stacked against you. To recharge your career, shake the mental obstacles by focusing on what you can attain despite the odds.

Talk to others who have persevered and succeeded. How did they do it, and what lessons can you learn from their experience? Participate in industry functions and attend professional meetings where you can meet people whose career paths have taken interesting turns. Their stories can be inspirational. You may even receive some promising job leads from your conversations.

The next step, is to create a game plan for your career. A few of the options that could help you reach your professional and financial goals include:
o Moonlighting to explore working in a different industry or type of job.
o Researching franchise opportunities to see if you’re suited to entrepreneurship.
o Becoming an “intrapreneur” who performs services for various companies under contract.
o Pursuing further education or professional certification to prepare for a different occupation.
o Taking early retirement to follow a dream outside of the corporate mainstream.
o Volunteering for work assignments, task forces or special projects that reflect your interests, add to your skill base and help you develop new contacts.

If you’re open to change and willing to take informed risks, you’ll be surprised by how many avenues you could pursue. Your future is what you make it, and it’s never too late.

As the strategic partner in designing targeted job search campaigns, Louise Garver, President of Career Directions, LLC, provides the services and tools to position you above the competition and win the career you deserve. A certified career coach and certified resume writer with 20+ years of experience in helping people find rewarding, meaningful work they love, Louise provides expertise in resume development, career branding, online identity positioning, networking, interview and salary skills enhancement, and career management. Through a personalized, consultative approach, she will help you identify your distinctive talents, career passions and success stories to produce career documents described as “compelling and highly effective” by recruiters and hiring authorities. Her resumes are published in over 30 publications. Please visit her Web site at