This job is killing me”, “I feel aimless and stuck in this job” or “I feel totally unaccomplished in this profession” are the common phrases we hear from people stuck in roles that are not aligned with their career aspirations.

Wanting to escape a job role altogether is not unusual. The bad news is that changing the job roles is a lot more difficult than finding a new job in the same field. The good news, though, is that changing fields is exciting, invigorating and possible – if you strategize and plan things carefully.

Today we are going to take a look at why people would want to change their field and whether or not it’s a good idea. We’ll also discuss about how a person can maximize the chances of success in this difficult decision.

The driving factors behind people wishing to change their career paths

There are multiple reasons for people to start thinking about a shift into a completely new field midway through their careers, but below are the two most common reasons:

Reason 1: This Job Role Isn’t Aligned with My Original Career Aspirations

After discovering some years in the corporate sector, many professionals find out that they need to make a change because the profession does not suit their original career aspirations. For instance, if a finance graduate is forced to start career somewhere else, he might not find the work that fulfilling.

It often takes some time for people to realize what they’re really good at and it might not even be correlating to their skillset at all, because somebody who might be a very strong marketing professional in terms of education and even performance could later realize that he’s more of a people person and would like to go towards jobs that would help other people in the organization; so they might opt for HR as a profession.

So I feel that the personal drive and passion takes you towards the path later that is closer to yourself, and that is what the concept of self-actualization all about. You discover yourself in the first few years and then you realize that there are certain roles in the organization that are closer to your heart. When you do things that are closer to your heart, the growth comes itself.

Besides, this self-discovery and realization takes longer time in Pakistan because unfortunately we do not have many coaching and mentoring options available in the early stage of our career. And even before we start the career, we do not get the career counselling in the colleges and universities.

Reason 2: I Need a Different Skillset to Grow in My Current Organization

This happens only when you experience the corporate growth and environment and realize what is more important for you in terms of learning and growth within your current organization. So you align your skillset to what is more popular in that organization. And I feel there’s no harm about this because when you want to make your inroads into the corporate ladder, you’ll always need some additional skillsets or certifications that would supplement that case of growth for you. So I feel if this kind of change is endorsed by the organization and they help you go through that change, it would be a more successful change as compared to the previous one where you were taking all the risk and nobody was with you at the beginning. In this second case, the organization is endorsing your change chase so they’re owning you, investing in you, developing you, resulting in more probability of success for you.

A lot of people don’t understand this second scenario of change and they do not strive for it. I feel it is very important for them to understand how to lobby for that change in the mid of their career. My advice to professionals is they should identify and pursue such opportunities and then raise their hands for them. Such opportunities keep coming in organizations but we being risk-averse, avoid those opportunities, considering that we’re already in our safer zones. But we need to realize that there’s no growth in comfort zones. Growth comes only when you jump out of your comfort zone.

Is passion for something really a strong motivator than financial and job stability?

In some cases yes, but it depends on the level of your responsibility as a family member. At times when your responsibilities are very high, you are obviously more risk-averse. But still, the passion stays and it can grow with the age and time. To be on the safe side, you can start with something related to your passion as a part time activity and evaluate if that passion can really help if you take it as a fulltime career. It’s not necessary that you break off everything and start afresh. You can also do things simultaneously. I’ve seen a lot of examples when people started with something that they liked doing as a hobby, as a part time activity, or over the weekends. Then once it gained some momentum, they made a complete shift in their careers. So you have to be very calculated and methodical when making this shift.

How do I effectively communicate this “desire to change” to my employer?

If you are actually leaving the organization as a result of this decision, be open to your current employer about it. There’ll be a mixed message about you in the job market if you leave your employer confused about why you left the job.

So if you are really following something that is close to your heart and you’re passionate about, say it out loud so that people really support that change, because you actually need the voice of the society and people around you to support you, as it raises your self-confidence.

Once someone has decided on this drastic life shift, what are the essential dos and don’ts?

When it comes to dos, believe in yourself, go for that change and once you have accepted that change, bring companionship around you that would reinforce your belief and would also help you in acquiring those skills that would help you go through that change. For instance if you have transitioned from human resources to marketing, surround yourself with accomplished marketing professionals, and grab inspiration from their success stories.

Regarding don’ts, don’t look back, don’t surround yourself by people who are unsupportive of that change, because they’ll try to convince you and drag you back to your previous job role. People would not tell you what’s relevant to your passion, they would actually tell you what’s more successful in the market.

Final thoughts

I personally feel that there’s no harm in exploring other career options. So if you’re in the mid of your career and are thinking about changing your career path, you shouldn’t feel guilty at all. It’s quite natural and it happens all over the world.

While you make this decision, make sure to ask yourself these two questions:

  1. How much freedom do I have within my organization to go for that switch?
  2. How much freedom do I have in the external industry i.e. the supply of jobs that I’m seeking?

With this decision, you also have to be aware of the fact that Pakistan is still one of the emerging economies. We do not have too many career options. Besides, we also do not have a lot of employers who would experiment in hiring people with no past experience in the skillset that they’re aspiring for. Most of the employers as well as the recruiters are risk-averse, so they don’t prefer a person with little or no experience in a certain field over a person with vast experience in that particular field. This is what leaves many people confused about whether or not they should switch their careers.

Changing careers can be great fun. Just be sure to create a good road map based on the steps outlined above.