6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Career Change

June marks year two from when I resigned from my budding career as a news producer. Leaving the place where I committed so much of myself and made a number of sacrifices is undoubtedly the toughest decision I made in my twenties. More than anything, my time there shaped me into the woman I am today. Not only did my exit have a huge impact on me, but I also had several other people to take into consideration, especially my teammates. Ultimately, I had to prioritize my self-care and life goals when deciding whether a career change was the right thing to do.

A former colleague gave me the best advice, “When you stop growing, it’s time to get going.” I had outgrown the job.

When you stop growing, it’s time to get going.

Before I walked away, I made several adjustments, exhausted every possible resource, and considered the long-term risks. After toying with the idea for a year, I moved from the newsroom to the world as a freelance writer. I’m currently working on scripts to become a sitcom writer. Luckily I have a number of transferable skills from my local news days. While my decision was met with opposition and often presents challenges, I created a situation that works for me. And you should too.

Here are six questions you should consider before making a career change:

1. Have you exhausted all possibilities?

searching for answers

Employee happiness is not on the daily task list for managers. Even though it might seem as though the higher-ups are out of touch with their workers, chances are, they have no clue that you’re dissatisfied. So help them help you.

Is it a promotion you’re seeking? Ask for it.

Do you want a pay raise? Ask for it.

Are your colleagues creating a toxic environment? Ask for it to stop.

You spend more time at work than you do at home. Peace on the job should be a requirement.

If you’re growing increasingly uncomfortable at work and have explored every possible resource to accommodate your well-being, then yes, it’s time for a departure.

2. Do I have enough savings to cover me?

counting money

Before I wrote a resignation letter, I had 18 months of rent saved up. Pretty impressive for the girl who spends every coin she earns, down to the pennies stuck in the cracks of her car. I prided myself on never having to call home and have my parents bail me out. I refused. Imagine the look on my mom and dad’s faces if I called to say, “Hey ya’ll, I quit my job yesterday. I need you to pick up a few tabs for me.”

Even if your job situation becomes unbearable, it’s imperative that you do a personal expense sheet to determine how much you spend monthly. Ideally, you want to find another position before you resign. Maybe you can’t wait until another opportunity comes along. While you’re looking and interviewing, you’ll need to make sure you have enough cash flow to cover the big things like rent and utilities. Don’t be afraid to downsize.  Side hustles are an option when you need some cash to keep you afloat. Entrepreneurship could work in your favor. Consider how many adjustments you’ll have to make, how your wallet could potentially suffer, and if it’s worth it in the long run.

3. How will I explain this exit to a future employer?

Get ready for it because they’re gonna ask.

Gaps in employment are a red flag for employers. If a prospective employee can’t seem to hold down a steady job, then your loyalty is already on the chopping block. As mentioned earlier, depending on your circumstances, resigning from your current position means you have a 50/50 shot of finding work within a certain window. You can’t walk into your next job interview bashing your former employer and expect to land a position. Making a leap for all the right reasons is key. Have a viable reason for the departure.

4. Is the timing right?

what time is it

When it rains, it pours. Bill after bill. Life event after life event. Trouble in life is inevitable. When unexpected disaster strikes, will you be prepared?

Sometimes “the right moment” will never present itself. So pick a date for your resignation and plan accordingly. Yes, this is easier said than done. It’s impossible to plan for the worst, but you can keep an eye on the things you can control.

For example, if you have a major expense due at the end of the month, you might want to wait two more pay cycles before leaving. And, if you’re the head of your household, timing is all the more important. You have other lives to consider, which means more timelines to be mindful of.

5. Is this career move in line with my long-term goals?

pondering a decision

We’re in a growing gig economy where more American workers are ditching traditional careers for freedom and flexibility. We seek instant gratification and acclaim. There is nothing wrong with seeking recognition for the work you do. The current position that you’re in may not appreciate your value. We log onto social media and see everyone else living their best lives in lucrative careers, leaving much to be desired. (And this can often leave us feeling the effects of impostor syndrome).

Are you making a career move that’s intentional for your bottom line or is this leap just riding the wave of a current trend? Just like children, our interests often change. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a news reporter in outer space. I got 25% of the dream right. The point is, it’s very important to recognize the difference between a sustainable career move and a hobby. You can monetize a hobby, but that doesn’t automatically mean it will provide you with security to that of a solid career.

Never make a permanent decision based on temporary feelings.

“Align your passion with your purpose and nobody can touch you.” -Oprah

Never make a permanent decision based on temporary feelings.

6.  Am I the problem?

running away

Jumping ship sure seems like an easy alternative. Walking away from your job situation often seems to be the most sensible solution. But if you didn’t ask yourself these questions and then address them, eventually you’ll begin to notice similar issues resurface in new professional scenery. Chances are, you’ve moved to another job situation with unresolved issues from your past workspace. We all know the definition of insanity.

Certain behaviors will always follow you if you fail to address them. Are you a toxic coworker? Do you bring pessimism to the job? Has your work become stagnant?

You won’t grow in your new position if you have unresolved issues. Even if you become an entrepreneur, you’ll have to work with others in certain areas. You’ll have difficulties growing your business if you can’t work with others. Acknowledge your faults at work and fix them before you open up a can of worms at your next destination.

So those are the 6 questions I made myself answer before I did a career change.

Any career-changers out there who have other words of wisdom for ladies who want to make the leap?

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