The Great Reshuffle is well underway across the United States, as millions of employees continue to quit their jobs in search of better opportunities. In September alone, more than four million workers tendered their resignations and moved on to new jobs. Even today, there are estimates that half of all workers are considering a similar career change, in search of greater flexibility, higher pay, and better working conditions.
In this post, we will explain how regular career check-ups can help determine if your career path is still healthy, and steps you can take to conduct that assessment. In addition, we will look at strategies you can use if you determine that it is time for you to embark on your own career change.
Mental health and job satisfaction is a growing priority
Since the beginning of 2021, more than 20 million Americans have left their jobs in search of greener pastures. According to CNBC, there have been two primary reasons for this reshuffling of labor: dissatisfaction with their employers' lack of empathy and the desire for greater work flexibility. Other factors include a need for greater compensation to offset rising inflationary pressures and the desire to change industries.
When examining the causes for these employee resignations, one common theme that appears is that workers are just burned out. The Covid-19 pandemic created incredible stress for not only the tens of millions of workers who experienced forced layoffs, but also for those who continued to work throughout the health crisis. That burnout fueled health problems, mental health concerns, and a rising tide of depression. As a result, millions of America's workers have decided that they need a healthier work environment and career path.
Why you should conduct regular career check-ups
Wharton professor Adam Grant is an advocate of the idea that everyone should periodically conduct overall life check-ups twice a year. The idea is to schedule these self-assessments at regular intervals, to basically take stock of where you are in life and ensure that you are still on a healthy path. That same approach can be taken with your career and may potentially help you identify unhealthy aspects of your current career trajectory early enough that you can make necessary changes before you find yourself suffering from burnout or other work-related problems.
How to conduct a career path check-up
One of the best ways to perform this career path self-assessment is sit down and ask yourself some basic questions. To get the most out of your assessment, make sure that you are conducting it at a scheduled time with no other distractions. You will need to focus your attention on this self-assessment if you want to ensure that you are truly answering these questions as honestly as possible.
It is also a good idea to keep a written record of your self-assessments, in much the same way that your doctor tracks information from your regular medical check-ups. This record can help to ensure that you are using the same expectations and metrics each time you conduct your check-up, which may provide a more accurate assessment over time.
Are you still feeling challenged by the work you do?
It is easy to become disillusioned and frustrated when your job becomes so routine that you are no longer challenged by the work. That can often lead to boredom, dissatisfaction, and even a loss of productivity – all of which can become unhealthy over time. If your work no longer provides you with any sort of challenge, it may be time to consider a change.
Does your career still align with your personal values?
Most people change as time passes, and those changes can include their personal values. If the company you work for has not evolved in line with your values, chances are that you will feel less fulfilled at work. The Great Reshuffle has been a great example of this phenomenon, as millions of workers have realized that they value things like creativity, flexibility, and work-life balance more than they value the stability their current jobs may provide. Think about your values and how well they align with your current job environment.
Is this the career path you chose?
It is also important to think about whether this is even the career path you intended to pursue. Sometimes, people end up accepting jobs because they are available, even if they are not an appropriate steppingstone on their chosen career path. If your current job is a diversion from your desired path, chances are that it may not be the healthiest place for you to be.
Is your work environment safe for your mental health?
Have you been struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues? If so, you are not alone. Tens of millions of Americans have experienced similar struggles throughout the pandemic, as lockdowns, excessive work hours, and other stressors have pushed workers to their limits. If your mental health is being affected by your job, then your current career path is certainly not as healthy as it should be.
Is stress from work harming your physical health?
In addition to mental health, you should also think about your physical health. Have you been working extra hours at the office? Have the stresses of the job impacted your eating habits or prevented you from getting the exercise you need? Are you struggling to get enough sleep? If you are experiencing any physical ailments that can be traced to your work or schedule, then something needs to change to get you on a healthier path.
Do you often find yourself thinking about a career change?
Finally, do you spend a lot of time thinking about how great things would be if you had a different job or career? Does the thought of staying at your current job cause you real discomfort or anxiety? If the idea of changing careers seems more enticing than any thought of staying on your current course, then it is almost a given that your current career path is unhealthy.
You may also want to take our free career quiz for an even more in-depth assessment of your current work situation: Career Quiz: Is It Time for a Career Change?
How to plan a successful career change
If you have determined that your current career path is unhealthy, the next step is to decide what you are going to do about it. If you have exhausted any options for correcting the status quo at your current job, that leaves one primary option: find a new job. Before you embark on a career change, however, you should take steps to make sure that you have a viable plan for success.
Charting a new career course
There are several key steps that you can take to chart your new career course and ensure that you are moving toward a healthier path. They include:
Taking stock of your interests and skills.
Brainstorming ideas for alternative career options. LinkedIn's Career Explorer can be the perfect tool to help you with that process.
Researching job options online, including different jobs in your current industry.
Tapping into your network by letting your contacts know that you are considering a change.
Identifying any skill deficits and developing a plan to enhance your talents.
Learning new skills
Fortunately, learning new skills does not always require a return to school. These days, there are many online skill development opportunities, as well as seminars and certifications from professional groups. Depending on your desired career, you may also be able to learn new skills or enhance existing ones by volunteering or working a side job as a freelancer.
Preparing your resume
Whenever you are considering a career change, you should take the time to update your resume and cover letter to reflect your new aspirations. An updated resume should highlight your talents, skills, experience, and value as a potential employee. If you need assistance with resume enhancement to ensure that your resume sets you apart from the competition, our professional resume-writing services can be the perfect solution.
As the workplace continues to experience turmoil, it is more important than ever to periodically check to determine if your career path is still healthy for you, and to make whatever changes are needed to ensure that your job choices are meeting all your needs.
Once you've assessed your current career path, it's worth assessing if your resume reflects your value effectively. Try our free resume critique service for an expert's opinion.