As a mindful career and life strategist, who developed and taught Career Success Preparation for Indiana University, I’m asked several excellent career-related questions all the time. You may have some of the very same questions as the ones I get from clients, students and readers, so I’ll start sharing them regularly.
Some questions merit straightforward responses such as:
Do I really have to network? (YES)
How many references do I list on my resume? (none)
When it comes to a job offer, what’s negotiable? (everything)
When should I create a LinkedIn profile? (yesterday)
For more complex questions, often the needed response is a combination of insight and an invitation to reflect on some key questions I pose.
Here’s an example of a very common yet complex question I get often: “Should I stay in the job I have right now that I don’t love, or should I pursue something new?” The person asking this might be in their first job right out of college or 20 years in. Here’s one woman’s experience.
Dear Trie ~
I’m 33 and have been a researcher in a law firm for 5 years. I enjoyed this job for about a year before it started becoming extremely monotonous, and it became clear there really was no room for advancement. I’ve stayed because the pay is pretty good, and it was already my fourth job out of college. Now I’ve stayed so long that I’m used to how things are. I’m afraid to leave and have no idea what else I want to do. Any suggestions? Thank you, Emma M, Chicago
Dear Emma ~
It’s understandable you have some fears about leaving a position that is familiar and provides steady, solid pay. The really good news is that it sounds as though you don’t need to make any quick moves.
Now, the short answer: Whether you stay or go is entirely up to you; one way to get closer to a decision is by vividly imagining how you will feel one year from today if you haven’t left this job or found a way to enhance it. Then envision how you would feel, one year from today, engaged in work you thrive in.
Now, my wordy response: Before you start drafting your letter of resignation, I encourage you to be sure you’ve fully explored any untapped opportunities at your current workplace that might provide you with new challenges and enrichment.
I’ve seen many individuals breathe new life into their work merely by having a great conversation with HR or their boss about ways they could add value to new projects; take on a new leadership role; mentor other employees; or shift their responsibilities in order to allow them to focus more on their core genius.
If those conversations have happened and the responses haven’t been promising, consider these factors to see how appealing the new job route might be:
- What are your long-term goals, values and mission and in what type of job could you best fulfill them?
- What would your ideal workday look and feel like?
- What skills and talents do you have that you’d like to use more? If you’re not sure, there are several good skill assessments you can take to get the process started, including 16 Personalities, The Big Five Personality Test and CliftonStrengths Solutions.
- Which aspects of a new job would you want to be different than your current work?
- How much income will be necessary to meet your goals?
- How can you position yourself powerfully for a new job or career?
Get clear on the answers to these questions, and you’ll have a lot more insight on whether you should stay or go. In fact, since you’ve got the security and income of your current role, you can invest time into exploring these questions thoroughly until you feel prepared to make an informed decision.
If you decide you are ready to leave, then it’s go time! There are seven steps you need to take in the right order for a successful career change; grab this checklist to be clear on what they are and make your progress as you go.
Best wishes to you and stay in touch to let us know how your journey progresses!
P.S. If you would like my take on your career matter, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
And remember that exploring career change doesn’t commit you to a career change, and you can proceed at a pace that suits your goals, purpose and needs.
Trie Angeleva is a mindful life and career strategist who specializes in career change for professionals in their prime; career launch for college students and recent grads; and job search tools. She’s a certified career transformation coach; founder of The Love Monday Method; and creator of PR Career Success Preparation at Indiana University. She teaches, coaches, develops resumes, LinkedIn profiles, personal websites and other job search tools and writes about mindful living and mindful career transformation. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook for tips and strategies on how to love what you do and lead a mindful life.