How Do You Know When It’s Time For A Career Change?

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By Jennie Yoon, founder & CEO at Kinn, modern heirloom jewelry brand, made to last a lifetime — then, now, always.

Covid-19 has thrust many changes upon our professional lives. And while some of the changes are not welcome (Zoom fatigue, anyone?), for many of us, the new normal has given us the gift of perspective. Whether it’s as simple as having more time in our day because we are not commuting or looking at our job through the new lens of working from home, this can be an ideal time to reflect on your career and think about the possibilities going forward.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are far too many people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and are experiencing fear and instability. Yet, in seeking to regain stability, this can also be a time to consider starting fresh on a new career path. 

So how do you know when the time is right for a career change? While there’s no simple answer to that question, there are guideposts to look for along your decision-making process. Sometimes the decision is forced upon you because of layoffs or furloughs. Other times it’s a nagging voice inside your head that can no longer be ignored. If you’ve thought about jumping ship, here are some practical things to consider as you ponder making a leap.

‘I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes.’ 

They are catchy Ace of Base lyrics, and they are also a warning. When you’re considering moving on, keep your eyes open to the outward signs coming from your employer, as well as your own gut. Have you been passed over for promotions? Are you constantly watching the clock or telling yourself that this is just a steppingstone and you’re paying your dues before your next big thing?

Ignoring these signs can be a fatal mistake and can lead to hanging on to a job well past its expiration date. The signs are not always negative, however. What if you love your job, but you find yourself rushing home to read books about that side project that you’ve wanted to finish, whether that is tie-dyeing a sweater or putting together a digital portfolio of your work?

Take the time to pay attention to those signs, and in those, you can often find your answer. 

You are the smartest person in the room.

It can be very rewarding to reach the point in your career where you serve as a mentor and leader to the next generation coming up through the ranks. When you’ve advanced in your job to the point where you are teaching and training, but you’re not learning and you’ve hit the ceiling in terms of being challenged yourself, it might be time for a new chapter.

Were you a rock star early in your agency career because you did your research, had your finger on the pulse of industry and wowed CEOs, therefore getting them to sign on the dotted line, but now you’ve been relegated to new business pitches? Or what if that valuable (and sometimes thrilling) lean startup experience you wanted has transitioned from excitement over building something from scratch into frustration from perpetually wearing too many hats?

Of course, it’s important to add that especially in challenging economic times, it’s a luxury to even consider leaving a secure job for the unknown. We can be thankful that we are still employed in these challenging times and at the same time consider if we’re growing. While many things in our economy have ground to a halt, there are still exciting and new opportunities to be had. 

You already have a fan base.

You’ve already started your project on the side. Your family and friends started asking you for your opinion about something, or are buying a product from you. Now their friend’s friend asked for you to make them a sweater. You then posted about it on your Instagram, and your friends are so excited for you. You have your validation already.

Or maybe if it’s a firm, you think the company that you’re currently working for is missing something and that you can do it better (of course, mind your noncompete agreement if you have one signed). Your passion and love for this new project shows, and your network can feel it. 

Perhaps there is a middle ground.

Maybe you’ve checked several of these boxes, the signs are clearly there, but you’re still not ready to leave. Maybe you love your job, but that nagging voice in your head is saying you’ll regret it if you don’t go all in to see what you can make of your side hustle. You most likely will not magically jump into your next dream job, so instead of grumbling, use your free time wisely and take positive, productive steps toward an eventual switch. 

Do you dream of starting your own business? You can start by researching competitors in the space, finetuning your idea, writing a business plan and pulling together a pitch deck for potential funding down the road. 

We are all living and working longer in this era. And the benefit of that is the chance to have a second or a third act. So do yourself a favor and take the time to check in with yourself and see if it’s time to start planning for that next career adventure.



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