After having worked with people on their career transition (and going through one myself), I am aware that uncertainty about the future frightens us. We might have a lot of signals telling us it’s time for a change, but until we have clarity on that change, it is very unlikely we will do something about it. In this post, we will share how we help our clients finding out the next step in their career.

But before, on that big “career” word

Some people don’t like the word “career”. They tend to put a meaning to it that is in my opinion a bit too narrow. They think a career is an ambitious, calculated, planned journey to maximise advancement and salary increases, up until one reaches the CEO position. This is just one approach to having a career.

There are other notions that are all included in my use of the word “career”: regular employment, starting a business, turning a passion into a job, making a dream job a reality, exploring new jobs that would make one happy, etc.

In this series of articles that I am posting on career transition, I talk about all that. For me, changing company is a career transition, because you are going to meet new people, get familiar with new products and processes, work in a different environment, learn to adapt to the culture, and all that. This transition will impact your professional life.

Now, let’s explore the different career changes you can do so you get clarity. Take some notes while thinking about your situation. It’s always great to document your thought process to be able to come back and add onto it.

1 | New job in your current company

Your next career move doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change companies. If you are happy with your employer, if you like the mission, the values and the culture shared in your organisation there’s no reason you should leave. You might feel stagnant in your current role though, so it might be time for a change. Luckily, because you are already part of the company, you have access to a lot of information regarding opportunities. But what opportunities are we talking about?

  1. You could get promoted to the next level (Team Lead, Manager, Sr. Manager, etc.)
  2. You could do a lateral move by changing team or department

To pick the one that is best for you, you should first reflect on a few things:

  • What don’t you like anymore about your current role?
  • What excites you in your current role?
  • What do you wish you could do more of?
  • What are you good at in your job?

These questions will help you gain clarity on the tasks and responsibilities that you like, so you can explore what roles or departments in your organisation are the best fit. For example:

  • If you work in customer service and you don’t want to work with clients anymore, moving to sales would not be a good move.
  • If you want to earn more money and are ready to do what it takes, then getting a sales job seems like a good option.
  • If you like helping new hires in your team and showing them the ropes, becoming a trainer could be a great choice.
  • If you are a people person and want to support others in reaching their goals, a manager position seems appropriate (we already wrote about what to expect when you transition to management).

Once you are set on the role and team you want to move to, talk to your manager about it and ask for their help. Contact some people already doing the job to shadow them and ask as many questions as possible so you are prepared when a role opens. Don’t wait for interviews to show your interest: your application will look like it comes from nowhere and that’s never convincing.

2 | Same job in a different company

If you’ve come to the realisation that the company you work for is not a good fit for you, it might be time to consider changing employer. Before you do that, it’s important you check in and understand how deep your dissatisfaction is and what you can do about it. The grass always looks greener on the other side and you know what you leave behind, but you don’t know what you’ll get in a new company. If you think the risk is worth it, and your gut is telling you that it’s time to move, then trust yourself.

Because of your experience in your current job, you have high chances of getting an interview for a similar position. If you like what you do but could really use a change of environment, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t look for the same job elsewhere.

If you need tips on how to do a successful job search, you can find all our articles here.

3 | New career path

Point #1 is close to what I consider a new career path: if you change responsibilities and learn a new job while staying in your organisation, you are still changing your career trajectory by expanding your skills.

What I am talking about here is a 180° degree career change that doesn’t match what your current employer offers. For example you want to become a graphic designer, work with kids, become a teacher or a professional song writer – basically anything that you are passionate about but that doesn’t really translate in your current situation.

This is the option out of the three that will be the most difficult to implement but that might also be the most rewarding. It requires a lot of reflection to identify:

  • What you like to do
  • What you’re good at
  • What you still need to learn about (and how you will learn it)
  • How this is aligned to who you are and your values

One of the most popular blog posts on the Institute is about finding your ikigai, which uses the same notions to discover your passion.

Once you know what you want to do, the second  part is to find how you are going to make it sustainable:

  • Are you ready to start working as a trainee to gain professional experience?
  • Do you know anyone already doing this job who could help you?
  • Could you become freelance or start your business?

Starting your business requires a few other considerations like: do you have enough savings to leave your job without having clients? Could you do it on the side while being employed? How will you grow your business?

Involve people in your thinking, don’t do it alone. Go to family members and friends who you know have your back and ask for their opinion. They will be a great support and they will also help you bounce ideas and see new perspectives you hadn’t thought about.