Is a Career Change the Right Move? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

We spend nearly a quarter of our adult lives at work, so it’s perfectly reasonable to seek out a career path that helps you feel happy and fulfilled. But what does a “good” career truly mean, and how can you know if it’s time to search for a better one? If you’re finding yourself in a rut or wondering what may be on the other side of the fence, ask yourself the following questions.

1. Do You Have Existing Opportunities for Advancement?

LinkedIn conducted a career study of 10,000 people who recently changed jobs. When asked why they left, about 45 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t foresee any opportunities for advancement. If you want to climb the corporate ladder but feel like you don’t have that ability in your current position, try exploring your options within the company before searching elsewhere. Talk to management about career development opportunities that may be available to you. You may be surprised at what a company will do to retain a good employee.

2. Is a Potential Salary Increase Worth it?

In the same LinkedIn study, about 74 percent of participants received a salary increase in their new position. Surely, more money is a huge motivator for career decisions across the globe. But it’s also important to find out if a new job might come with other costly changes. For example, a longer commute, longer hours, reduced benefits, a different work environment, or less flexibility are things to consider when deciding if a new job is truly “worth” the money.

3. Does Your Job Align with Your Interests?

Many people find that while they’re good at what they do, they wouldn’t necessarily be interested in the work outside of the office. You might find more fulfillment from a position that speaks to your personal interests, goals and passions. What makes you tick outside of work? Which elements of your current position truly excite you, and which elements do you find lackluster? These answers can help you figure out if you’re truly satisfied with your job, or if a change is necessary.

4. Are You Satisfied with Your Work/Life Balance?

Work/life balance is critical when it comes to career fulfillment. If your position calls for 40 hours a week on paper, but you’re spending closer to 60 hours in the office, this is a sign that your work/life balance could use some care.

Employees who feel balanced and well-rested experience a plethora of benefits, such as better productivity and a more positive outlook inside and outside of work. Are you putting in the amount of work that you expected to when you first accepted your job? Do you feel like work interrupts your personal life? These are important questions to answer.

5. Do You Like Your Company’s Culture?

Company culture defines the daily environment of an organization. What are your company’s values and goals? What are the daily expectations and rules? Is it a laid-back environment, or more corporate? How do employees interact with each other and with their superiors? Company culture will vary from workplace to workplace, even within the same industry. Ask yourself if your work environment matches your personality, goals and preferences, or if you’re looking for something different.

Take the Next Step

Before making a decision to leave your current role, schedule a conversation with your manager and express how you’re feeling.

Here are some tips to help prepare for the discussion:

  • Schedule a meeting by sending an email or asking in person. Be clear about your intentions and what you’d like to discuss — this way, no one is caught off guard.
  • Ask as many specific questions as you can. Is there a particular position you have your eye on, or are there any “deal breakers” within your current position that you need to address? Prepare a clear direction for your conversation.
  • Do your research. If you’re asking for a new position, know what that job description entails and be able to show how you fit the bill.

As you encounter times of change throughout your career, it’s important to think carefully about your personal goals, and not make hasty moves. Take the time to ask yourself important questions about where you are, and where you want to go. Speak with management about opportunities for advancement in your current role. Taking these steps will help you make informed decisions about your career and your future.