You might be sitting at your desk, questioning if you chose the right career path. After years of working on your education and countless hours dedicated to your “dream job”, it might not be as fulfilling as you thought it would be. What happens when you are unsure of your career choice?
It can be disheartening and shocking when you reach career milestones and no longer feels right. As you develop your skill sets and change your personal desires, it is equally important to understand when to pivot and re-align your career goals to meet your changed personal motivations.
If you’re experiencing doubts in your career field, you are at the right article. Let's discuss what exactly it means to be in the "wrong career," the serious signs indicating you are indeed in the wrong job, and the steps to consider when you're looking to redefine—and reroute your future career path.
What Is a Wrong Career?
A wrong career is one that fails to bring fulfillment and doesn’t meet your skills, preferences, values, and beliefs. When you think about it, a career relies on your personal preferences and is bound to change, as you change throughout your life experiences.
Your ideal career is unique to your wants and needs and brings an overall enjoyment as you engage in your day-to-day activities.
What to Avoid Doing When you Realize You’re in the Wrong Career?
When you first realize you might be in the wrong career, it can be overwhelming and disappointing. Especially when you have invested time and energy into building your skill sets and out of nowhere, “it just doesn’t feel right”.
Realizing you’re in the wrong career can be a tough pill to swallow.
When you first realize that you may want to make a career 180, try to avoid the following common reactions—and learn to look at the situation in a different (and more positive) light.
1. Quitting with No Game Plan
You’ve realized you’re unhappy at work: You dread coming into the office each day, and you count down the minutes until the clock hits 5 PM. Immediately, you assume that to be happy, you need to make a major career switch and chase after a new career goal that brings immediate excitement.
Instead: Check Yourself
Take a step back. Before you start plotting your transition from administration to starting your own party planning company. Take some time to figure out if it’s truly your career that you don’t enjoy—or simply your current job environment.
Maybe you enjoy the basic job functions of your role, but you can’t stand the majority of your co-workers or your micromanaging boss, who’s hindering your career advancement. Perhaps you don’t enjoy working behind a desk and you would be more motivated out in the community and more hands-on.
Try to pinpoint the exact reason for your discontent. If it’s something that could be remedied by taking a similar role in a new, different environment, it’s time to start job searching.
If you truly are ready for a career change, there’s still no need to panic. Just continue reading.
2. Major Discouragement
Deciding you want to change careers can be completely overwhelming. It feels like everything leading up to this point—your years of education, professional development, promotions, and late nights at the office—have all been a waste.
And so, you start doubting that you can do it. You start thinking that starting over is going to be ridiculously hard, that no one will want to hire you because of your lack of experience, and that you’ll never be as successful as other people in your new field because you got such a late start. Maybe it’s just not worth the risk.
Instead: Give Yourself a Pep Talk
Yes, changing careers is intimidating—but it’s also very possible.
It is important to take time to remind yourself that shifting your profession is normal and that very few individuals have a perfectly linear career path. It took a lot of hard work to get to this point in your career, and that’s a great accomplishment. Now, you’re going to move on to something different—an equally great (if not even better!) accomplishment.
A career change may be tough, but the reward—is a job you love! Working with a Career Confidence Coach will help you with the confidence you need to start this new career path.
3. Assuming That You’ll Have to Start From the Bottom
If you want to make a major career shift, your first reaction may involve assuming that to actually get a job in your new target industry, you’ll need to go back to school for at least another four years, apply to only entry-level positions, or submit yourself to an unpaid internship.
Instead: Identify Your Transferrable Skills
Making a switch doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. There was something that drew you to your initial profession, and if you hone in on that, you may be able to determine a new career path that closely aligns with your skills—but also provides that satisfaction you’ve been lacking.
For example, maybe you chose teaching as your first career because you love engaging with the community. Now you are desperate to get away from a classroom, but you still love building programs to help develop and educate the community. Now you just need to find a different way to apply that passion and skills to a new career choice.
By identifying your strengths and passions, you’ll be better equipped to explain to future employers how you’ll bring value to their company without starting from the very bottom.
What to do if you chose the wrong career
If you feel you chose the wrong career, here are the actions to take:
1. Reevaluate Need for Career Change
Before making any decisions, allow yourself to reevaluate what's making you feel pessimistic or upset about work. You may be correct about needing a career change, but there are other possible causes, such as:
Wrong work environment
External factors (Personal Life)
Temporary frustrations (Commute/Stress)
Lack of guidance
Make sure that you are not just going through a phase and that you are making your career the main focus of your issue. Sometimes when we are not aligned in our personal lives, we can easily blame our career as an obstacle, when there might be other underlying issues.
2. Rank your priorities
If you conclude with certainty that you're in the wrong career, then ranking your priorities can help you make a better choice this time. Keeping in mind that no career can be perfect, list the priorities you associate with work and decide which ones are most important for you to configure into future roles.
3. Define qualifications
Review the skills and abilities you gained from your education and professional experiences and compare them to the job descriptions that most intrigue you. Changing careers usually requires learning new material or skills, so identify any additional training necessary to adapt your qualifications for your transition.
4. Tailor Your Job Application Materials
Once you know what jobs and companies you want to target and why they are a good fit for you, tailor your job application materials. This means re-writing your and cover letter, optimizing your LinkedIn profile, filling skills gaps, and focusing your job search efforts only on a few specific places.
5. Ask Questions
The next time you land an interview, ask lots of questions! This is your opportunity to make sure you're picking a job that aligns with what you want and a great company culture fit.
When you’re in the right career, you’re working for more than just money. What you do for work is linked with your purpose. You don’t ask “how much does this job pay?” You ask questions like…
What skills will I learn here that I can use in the future?
Will this job move me closer to my dream job?
Will this job afford me an opportunity to act on my dreams?
Will this job allow me to express my passion and creativity?
The bottom line? We shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we find ourselves in the wrong career. Life is a continual learning process and we should embrace our own unique stories.
Live your worth,
Career Confidence Coach