Looking to make a career move is all sorts of exciting and scary. One minute you’re daydreaming about accepting the perfect offer, the next you’re overwhelmed even thinking about where to begin.
In this time of transition, it easy to fall back on the same tactics that got you your current job.
Circling back with the same people.
Perusing the same job boards.
Searching the same filters on LinkedIn.
It’s the career move “comfort zone,” and you might not even realize you’re playing in it. This routine already landed you your last job (or two), so it will certainly do the trick this time around, right?
In short, no. A recent study found that half of U.S. employees are actively searching for a new job. You’re not alone on the path to career happiness. But if you want to make a career move that is going to excite you, connect with a passion, and beat the odds of walking out within three years, it’s important to explore and do the deep work to find the right fit.
1. Pinpoint Your Why
Before you start looking outward, try to get crystal clear on why you seek to leave your current position in the first place. There’s a million possible reasons, and your answer will likely be a big determining factor for your future career move.
Consider: How do you feel about your current workplace culture? Are you looking for a bigger challenge, or opportunities to move up? When you wake up in the morning, what most excites you about your workday? What do you dread most?
Envision your ideal outcome, and try to get clear on your own personal success metrics.
2. Consider Your Direction
The great news about the modern career path? Going “up” isn’t the only answer! While promotions and climbing the ladder are great ways to grow professionally, making a lateral career move is an increasingly popular option.
For instance, perhaps you love marketing—but crafting content about retirement investing products might not be your passion. You may then seek to match your skills with a more inspiring-to-you field, like media relations for a global apparel brand or marketing at an urban food startup.
Or, the reverse: you love working in the urban farming industry, but marketing isn’t your jam. Your lateral move may then be a different role in the same or similar type of company.
As you explore your next career move, keep an open mind to both “up” and “over.”
And if you’re considering a more horizontal move, experts suggest you focus on changing either industry or function—not both at the same time.
3. Test Drive Your (Potential) New Job
Any role can seem great on paper. But if you want to make an intentional, informative career move, try experiencing your potential new job first-hand. <--Note: let's link Internship or job shadow article after we've posted to our blog"
One of the best ways to do this is through job shadowing: following someone in your desired role or industry for a day. Job shadowing offers a comfortable, risk-free way to explore your passions and assess if a particular path is worth pursuing. During this time, you can ask questions, learn more about company and industry culture, and gain a sense of what you can expect day to day.
And of course, don’t be discouraged if your experience is different from your ideal. The point of “test driving” is to explore and refine your career vision. So don’t be afraid to go out on a limb—follow your curiosities and know it’s never too late to switch things up in your career.