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How you can tell it’s time for a career change

Career change

If work is no longer fulfilling, and you’re thinking about making a move, how do you decide whether you should start a completely new career?

When simply changing your employer is not enough, it may be time, says David Meintrup, MA, a career coach with Phoenix Career Services™ for University of Phoenix. Here, he outlines four reasons to consider a new career:


You work in a dying industry.

If the job you do is becoming obsolete, chances are good that you’ll find yourself unemployed soon. “This is happening all over the place — think about what technology has done to the [offset] printing industry, for example,” Meintrup says. If you see doom on the horizon, it’s probably a good idea to seek a new direction, he stresses.

He suggests reaching out to former colleagues who have successfully transitioned out of your industry and asking for advice on how your existing skills might apply to other, growing sectors of the economy. You can do the same to get ideas on possible retraining options, ranging from certification programs to a new degree.

Your priorities have changed.

The dream job you loved in your 20s may no longer be a good fit for you in your 40s.

“A lot of people’s personal and professional values change as they get older,” Meintrup notes. “I once had a client who worked as an operations manager with a two-hour commute each day when he was single. He liked that job, but once he married and had a family, he wanted something with more work-life balance.”

Other examples include the desire or need for a higher salary and better benefits as you approach retirement, the ability to telecommute if you’re raising children, or even the chance to do more meaningful work, Meintrup explains. “Someone who spent years as a corporate executive might decide to do nonprofit work later in life,” he points out.

You’re burned out.

If you no longer enjoy your job or dread going into work every day, then you probably should re-evaluate your career path, Meintrup says. “If you’re not passionate about what you do anymore, that’s a bad sign,” he says, noting that he frequently counsels clients who want careers more aligned with their personal passions.

“Sometimes, all you need is a new environment, but if the work itself has lost its meaning, you need to find a new career path,” he says. A career coach can help you identify your current interests and strengths, and suggest careers that could engage you.

Meintrup also suggests consulting the Phoenix Career Guidance System™, along with the U.S. Department of Labor’s O-Net site for ideas. “You need to find something that interests you that also has a good job outlook,” he stresses.

You can’t get promoted anymore.

If you’ve reached the limit of what your current skills can earn in terms of pay and responsibilities, you may decide to seek a new direction, Meintrup says, noting that it often helps to talk to people who already are working in jobs you think you’d enjoy.

“I’m a huge fan of informational interviews,” Meintrup stresses, recommending that you talk to at least four to five people before making any decisions. He also suggests weighing the pros and cons of furthering your education, considering things like tuition costs and time away from family versus the job outlook and earning potential.

“You really have to want to make a career change,” Meintrup emphasizes. “If you’re the least bit skeptical about it, don’t do it.”