The nature of work is always changing, and the way you feel about doing work changes too. Your passion and energy level for a specific company, industry, and/or type of work may naturally wax and wane over time. Perhaps you started your career in your 20s as a distractible junior employee, and as you gained maturity and new insights, started to love your work and became a real powerhouse by mid-career. Or perhaps you entered your field full of hope and ambition post-college, yet a few decades later have grown disillusioned with it.
Whatever your current situation, it’s important to occasionally take stock and determine whether your areas of professional focus still fit with who you are today. While some people decide to stick with their original vocation throughout their entire career, it’s increasingly common to shift directions and change careers, seeking fresh opportunities as you achieve mastery in certain areas.
What you decide to do—and the changes you make—at any given stage will be inextricably linked to your level of ambition at that phase of your life and career.
This reality has a major impact on job search, since you need to know what type of work will fulfill you before you start sending out resumes. So if you’re feeling uncertain or at a crossroads, ask yourself the questions below before you begin applying for work, and make sure that your actions are still aligned with an authentic career path.
5 Questions to Ask Before Changing Careers
Do you still enjoy what you do for a living? If not, what else might you do with your skills?
Sometimes, we end up in a rut, applying for the same type of job we’ve had in the past even though we’ve outgrown it. While earning a living is certainly always a major consideration, if you no longer enjoy your work and aren’t inspired by it as you once were, then it will be hard to do your best at it. This doesn’t mean, however, that you need to start from scratch by going back to school or completely changing fields. Think about ways that you might hit the refresh button on your career by redirecting your skills in a new direction. For example, if you’re an art director who has always worked in an advertising agency, maybe you could apply for a graphic design position illustrating children’s books.
In your last position, did you find yourself feeling bored or apathetic?
As ambition wanes, you may find yourself losing a sense of passion for your work. If you left your last job due to boredom and lack of challenges, this may be a great time to find a cause, company, or culture that you can get behind and care about more. Sometimes, this can be as simple as finding a new organization to work for—one that better reflects your own values.
Have you felt drawn to do something different? Do you feel your passion or ambition for work shifting in a new direction?
Perhaps what you want to do next is no mystery to you, and you’ve felt clearly drawn toward a new area. Yet your professional background may not be aligned with the job that you’d like to explore. Consider whether you can find out more about what it’s really like to work in a particular position or industry by doing some related volunteer work during your job search. You may discover that you’re perfectly happy to pursue your new passion as a hobby rather than a career choice—or you may feel so compelled to move further in this direction that you’ll be led to next steps through contacts you make through your volunteer efforts.
The point isn’t what decision you make, but that you’re aware of your changing career needs over time. If you can determine how to integrate self-knowledge about your current ambition level into your job search, you’ll be poised at any stage to achieve maximum results.