Should I start over in my career? I’m unhappy but worried….
I get asked this question a fair bit and although it’s normally very subjective I had one interaction recently from a worried millennial that I thought would be good to share (with permission) as my advice covered most areas of this topic, especially for people earlier in their careers. Also with New Year and 2018 around the corner it seemed timely! So here it is (with anonymity).
Hope you find it useful if thinking of doing the same:
RF: Sure, how can I help ****? Hoping all is well?
Q: I’m at a bit of a crossroad.
RF: Ok, I need a bit more detail :-)
Q: I know, I’m sorry haha! I have written and rewritten my message again and again.
RF: Don’t worry about making it perfect. None of us are. Just get it out and we can go from there.
Q: The truth is I am seeking advice from you as an objective mentor; but I am holding back because I know you were once a prospective employer - and I want to protect your professional outlook of me.
RF: I thought as much but that’s what I mean. I won’t and don’t judge. I’ll have the right hat on.
Q: Okay. Here goes.
I believe you are the best person in my network for it…
Basically, I am considering retraining. Starting over.
In short - sales and recruitment has been brilliant and taught me so much; but I am starting to get weary of recruiting creative / digital people into amazing roles that I wish I was doing myself.
I have put all of my focus since being here, in the digital industry, because it fascinates me and it’s the future.
I have realised there is a real place for me to provide a 360 Digital Marketing service. From designing and developing websites, to creating visual materials, to analysing stats and data and market trends and turning it into a creative engaging sales strategy; and then executing it - it just sounds like a dream to me! It incorporates everything I am good at and I truly feel it would be a fulfilling career for me.
I’m just so worried about:
1) how it looks; because I know right now it looks pretty terrible. And by that, what I mean is my profile to date. As a recruiter I can’t help but criticise it. I look like a confused, jumpy, uncommitted and invaluable resource. But I honestly know I am not - I have just been finding my place (geographically and professionally).
2) whether it’s the right idea... have I made the right decision? Do I take this huge leap into darkness and just hope for the best... or do I play it safe and continuing doing a job that has completely lost me heart....
3) is this smart? - is this a good business decision? Digital is constantly evolving and changing and we can’t predict where it’s gonna end up! I worry that by the time I have retrained, will the industry have completely evolved so that my new found skill set will become completely irrelevant?
My family are not in support, they are worried that I am leaving financial security to start from scratch.
I guess I am reaching out to you because you know the industry better than them.
And better than me for that fact. And you know what it’s like to start and own your own successful business.
I think your opinion is one that I could feel confident in.
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RF: So here is my initial advice. As a warning though it comes with more Qs, which you need to answer and like all things in life, there is absolutely no short cut - just best practice, with practice being the operative word.
Ill deal with the open text and the numbered Qs in their respective order.
Open text section A:
This is good because it seems like you know where you want to go but i) It is VERY important to analyse your self assumption. You can do this lots of ways but primarily you need to ask lots of Qs of yourself and those that know and/or have worked with you - ideally all three. Qs need to be like:
What do/did I do to make your work life better?
When you think of me, what’s the first good thing that comes to mind? What's the first negative thing?
If you hired me and your boss asked you why you chose me, what would you say to them?
However these conversations take place, take notes! It's important to listen out for recurring themes so you can build the bigger picture of you as a work colleague — look out for things like the problems that you’ve solved or the service you've delivered - if they don’t directly tell you, these will be the guides that show you the value you provide.
What honestly has driven you over the last few years - look for emotions you've felt when things have happened, such as excitement, eagerness and think about why they happened.
In all of this you are looking for an 80/20 rule, as nothing is perfect and no job is a dream, however it might look like from the outside.
Once you've got a true picture of what others and yourself think you’d enjoy and motivates you as well as your fundamental skills you then need to ask more Qs covering:
What would a job role look like if I mashed all this together?
Talk to people in the industries you think you like and ask them what job in their industry might fit that picture. I know you say you think there’s a place for you doing 360 digital marketing but that is a huge leap from where you are.
You have to narrow this down and be as accurate as you can.
DO NOT worry about how it looks. What people care about is authenticity. People don’t like job hoppers because they pose a flight risk, sure, however, if you are applying to a totally different area and your answer is "I kept moving because I just couldn't find my feet in recruitment, and then I realised I never would so I did x, y, z and that's why I am now talking to you" that would be a great answer.
What you DO need to worry about though is that your are clear, and you have it as right as possible so you can be authentic and deliver the message in a convincing way. Practice this with friends and family.
Don't stay in a career you are not enjoying. It will only end in misery and underperformance.
However, don't jump into the darkness - research, question, analyse, strategise and make sure all leaps of faith are done with data driven decisioning. Look into mental models - here is a great resource https://theartofcharm.com/podcast-episodes/james-clear-mental-models-episode-592/.
We can't predict where anything is going to end up. Automation, AI and Robotics are going to change the landscape of the workplace beyond recognition in your lifetime (if not mine!). I wouldn't worry about it. There are no safe havens. I think the best advice I can give to this is to always Master what you do. That way you will see the world being eaten up under you and have the time, skills and best chance to adapt as much as anyone can.
However, I think its too early for you to be deciding to jump into Digital Marketing. Go through the exercises mentioned above for a decent period and see where you end up. Then jump. If that's Digital Marketing, then great. That is being smart about decision making.
Open text section B:
Your family are just worried about you. You can allay all their fears if you can show them the path you're on, why you've made decisions and what's going to happen next. At no point should this risk your financial security as you won’t jump before you have done some amazing analyses or have some sort of a job.
I hope this helps. There are lots of resources out there for you.
If you need me to help look at your Qs, Answers, provide more input and / or help with analyses and recommendations going forward don’t hesitate to ask.
Good luck to everyone for 2018 and if a career change is on the cards and you need help, please reach me at email@example.com