The Downside of Changing Your Career

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If you earned a college degree and you’ve been working for a few years, you may get the 5-year itch to change careers. This common urge sneaks up on many of us as we corkscrew into our jobs and the daily routines it imposes on us. Some of us simply get bored as we listen to our friends who have chosen other careers boast about how exciting they find their jobs. We may become annoyed with our bosses who seem to be pushing us harder in this highly competitive economy. Co-workers can be another source of job dissatisfaction, their habits and petty annoyances magnified if we work, as most do now, in tight cubicles, where privacy is in short supply.

In desperation, many of us simply pull up roots and start to look for job satisfaction in another direction—we make the decision to change careers, thinking the move will solve our problems.

Do you really want to start over?

There are upsides and downsides to changing careers. Unfortunately, many people change careers for the reasons mentioned above—the wrong reasons. The upside is new people, new challenges, new bosses. The downside is you’ll probably have to start over—with schooling, certifications, racking up experience in your new field. That means starting at the bottom in status and pay. All these things take time and money. Loss of status means your self-esteem will take a hit. A reduction in pay could hurt you financially if you’re already in debt paying off school loans, credit cards and car loans.

This is not the time to change careers.

Let’s face it, this economy is still pretty bad. Jobs are hard to come by—even the job you may hate right now would be cherished by dozens of job seekers. There’s no guarantee that if you go back to school, get certifications and land some internship that you’ll be hired full time in your new career. The question your new prospective employers will surely ask is why you decided to change direction in this economy, or at all. Even the best answer will have them wondering about your commitment, ill timing and career vision. Will they want to hire a career hopper? It’s just another hill you’ll have to climb.

The devil, you know.

Your present boss may be a pain in the butt, but he or she may be far better than the bosses in your new career. Your new job may be challenging and exciting on paper or how it’s described in TV ads or brochures, but the people you work with and the boss you work for may be bores and tyrants. There are simply no guarantees here.

If you’re really bent on changing careers, do some due diligence and drill down deep into what it will take to make the change. Talk to as many people as you can—strangers who will give you an honest real-world glimpse into what your new career entails.

Image courtesy of photostock/


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