How to Decide If You Need a Career Change

Is your career a good fit for you? Try this assessment to see if you should stay where you are or start looking in another direction.

How to Decide If You Need a Career Change

If you're not thrilled with your career, if you don't wake up excited about the day's prospects or if you feel that your work has no intrinsic value, then it's time to get serious about making a career change.

Knowing a Good Fit

The right career is a positive, productive and natural extension of you, your value system and your natural talents. The right career "fits" -- it may not come effortlessly, but it does come naturally. It provides you with purpose, a positive self-image and a sense of pride.

Just like finding your ideal mate, finding your ideal career has a lot to do with compatibility on many different levels. Your career must be a comfortable match with your personality, lifestyle, interests, skills, spiritual inclinations and values.

Signs of a Bad Fit 

You know you're in the wrong career if:

  • It is strictly a means to put food on the table.
  • It's just some job you took 10 years ago because, at the time, it was the only one you could find.
  • Your parents are proud, but you're bored to tears.
  • Your job makes you unhappy, damages your self-esteem, compromises your values or undermines your integrity.
  • You live for the weekend.

Assess Yourself

Here's another checklist to help you assess your current employment situation. Check the statements that apply to you (and ignore for now the letter after each statement): 

  • I look forward to going to work most every day. (S)
  • My employer treats me fairly and with respect. (S)
  • I live for the weekend, or any days away from work. (G) 
  • I feel valued and appreciated for my professional contributions. (S)
  • My workplace feels toxic. (G) 
  • I can be myself at work and not have to worry about being judged. (S)
  • I am included in my company's information loop. (S)
  • My employer discusses with me and provides opportunities for advancement and professional development. (S) 
  • I am commended for the extra effort I perform. (S)               
  • I am stimulated intellectually and creatively by my work. (S)
  • I feel that I am making a positive contribution to society. (S)          
  • I am compensated well for my work. (S)
  • I find myself daydreaming frequently about a new career. (G)        
  • I feel that my work is a natural extension of who I am as a human being. (S)
  • I see myself as successful. (S)                             
  • I feel trapped and stuck in my current position. (G)        
  • I feel in control of my career destiny. (S)            
  • I am working at the level of my full potential. (S)                          
  • My current career negatively impacts those close to me. (G)           
  • I have a desire to try something new and different.  (G)                   

Now, count the number of "S" and "G" responses you have. "S" means "Stay" and "G" means "Go." This checklist is a reliable indicator of whether your present job is a good fit for you. Clearly, the more "G" ("Go") responses you checked, the more critical it is for you to start thinking about new opportunities.

[Debra Davenport, PhD, is a Master Professional Mentor career counselor, and the president of DavenportFolio, a licensed firm that mentors entrepreneurs and professionals.]