Tzvi Broker advises on how to make a job change that is right for you
Aor many, making a career change can be so daunting that staying in the same profession becomes the default. But it doesn’t have to be. Through my work consulting with mid-level career professionals, I’ve gleaned insight into the red flags that indicate that one should be considering a career change, and which steps are essential to crossing that bridge successfully. The core “symptom” that I hear from people considering a jump is best described as “work frustration.” So to go deeper and understand whether a move is really necessary or if the dissatisfaction can be resolved, I created a three-step process of awareness, analysis, and alignment. Let’s break it down.
STEP 1: AWARENESS HOW DO I KNOW IF IT’S TIME FOR A CAREER CHANGE?
Success in any field is born from a drive for excellence. News reports these days reveal stories of a global work disengagement crisis, with seven of ten U.S. employees more interested in taking a coffee break than doing their jobs. Some people are naturally driven to excel in anything they do, but most are only motivated when their work enables them to use their strongest talents and develop their skills, or their job is aligned with something they deeply care about. When work drive starts to evaporate, it’s very often a sign to look for another position. Sometimes, however, the dissatisfaction runs deeper, into the fabric of the type of work itself, which calls for making a career change. Professionals often wonder how they could suddenly lose a passion that drove them for years. Interestingly, the inner dynamic of a mid-career change was revealed in Jewish thought thousands of years ago. The Talmud tells us that one’s drive for a specific type of work is connected to the epic mission of a person (Berachos 43b).
Our drives, interests, and skills were hardwired into us to serve as an internal GPS to guide us to the specific work situations in which we will impact the world. The “drive disappearance” in one area and growing interest in another area is playing out the calling of another chapter in one’s life. But this doesn’t mean that everyone who experiences a lack of work drive should switch careers. The first step is awareness of its root cause. After all, a lack of this clarity may lead a person to abandon their job — only to find a lack of satisfaction in their next destination. My in-depth assessments with professionals sometimes reveal that the root cause is a specific work environment or a particular work relationship. Here are three starter questions one needs to ask to dig deeper and discover the right course of action:
1) What are my strongest talents? How often am I being given the opportunity to use them in this position?
2) What type of work am I feeling the most motivated about doing? Some examples are leading, innovative thinking, managing, organizing, or problem-solving. What percentage of my time is allocated to this type of work?
3) Was there a point at which I was more inspired to excel in this job or field? Is there something that changed in my job description, work environment, or work relationships since then? The answers to these questions provide clarity on whether the root problem is the specific job, work relationship, or industry.
Michael was feeling unsettled about the idea of leaving 10 years of work in communications, but he had simply lost all motivation. Through reaching greater awareness, he realized that the root cause of his frustration was the increase of independent assignments in his last position. Instead of changing careers, he decided to confer with his manager about his need for more team interaction and feedback. Assuming the next step is a career change, we now have what we need to move to step two, analysis.
STEP 2: ANALYSIS HOW DO I EVALUATE MY NEXT CAREER DESTINATION?
With the clarity of the skills, type of work, and environment you are looking for in hand, the next step is making sure your next career will be the right fi t. If you already have a specific career in mind, research the core competencies of professionals in this career through LinkedIn. Once you find potential matches, use your network to speak with professionals in these fields to get an inside perspective of what the work really entails. If you aren’t sure of the next step because you see yourself as having many or diverse talents, or different directions, a career professional can use assessments to identify the best careers that match your skill set and previous experience. I’ve seen many professionals pigeonhole themselves simply because they have a limited vision of what they could do.
David gained the clarity to leave behind his career in dentistry, but he had a hard time considering something outside the familiar field of medicine. Through coaching, he identified that his analytical problem-solving and effective communication skills were a perfect fit for working as an actuary, a field he now thrives in.
STEP 3: ALIGNMENT WHAT STEPS MUST I TAKE TO MAKE THIS SHIFT SUCCESSFUL?
Alignment is streamlining one’s previous professional experience into another industry through a smart rebranding strategy. The key is to create a personal brand that is more expanded than a specific job title or industry, so that a career switch is viewed as a progression of a proactive career builder and not as making a career U-turn.
Josh was making the career switch from computer programming into the world of finance. Creating a personal brand of a “passionate problem solver and innovative thinker” enabled him to show how the same ambition that led him to generate growth in the hi-tech sector was now driving him to look for new opportunities to use his talents in financial markets.
Creating a narrative that confidently explains one’s career journey becomes the basis for writing a compelling resume, handling effective networking, and presenting oneself in the interview. If you’re considering a career change, start with building the inner dynamics of clarity, confidence, and communication. While many people find that the thought of making a change is scary, the rewards of being involved in engaging work that facilitates your success is well worth the discomfort.
Tzvi Broker is the director of Pilzno Work Inspired, under the leadership of Rabbi Yehoshua Gerzi. The organization, dedicated to upgrading the financial success and work satisfaction of Jews, is making a global impact through its publications, workshops, courses, and partnerships with major Jewish organizations.
(Originally featured in 2.0, Issue 6)
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