There is a fine line between exploring what you want to do and following the road to nowhere. It’s the difference between fulfilling yourself and filling your resume with empty jobs that didn’t teach you anything — about yourself or your skills. The risk is that you end up with no foothold to step up the ladder.
We talk a lot about quarterlife and mid-life crisis…but when approaching burnout you can look at it merely as an opportunity. It’s a chance to readjust the vision of where you thought you where going to be and where you want to be and do some course correcting. If you are unhappy get to the crux of why. What about the job gives you joy vs. drains you and then explore routes. You can’t switch too often if you are strategic. Don’t just do it randomly (that doesn’t mean it can’t be spontaneous). You can read more about strategic switching here:
These are some top lessons from 40-something women on what they know now:
1. If you do switch jobs a lot, don’t burn bridges.
Always leave with a reference and one good relationship. You never now when that person is going to come up again in your life, particularly if you want to stay in in certain industry those burnt bridges do follow you. Believe in career karma.
2. Don’t switch only because of things you don’t like.
This tends to be reactionary and the next job might be an escape vs. a strategic shift. Some 40-something women could list a string of jobs they left because of something they didn’t like. At the end of they day, they realized the dislikes often weren’t as important as the opportunities they left behind. And it also left for a random job chain that was difficult to explain.
3. Do switch if you aren’t learning anything.
Your career in your twenties is an education. You could be learning something personally or professionally but if you are just biding your time, it’s time to look for more challenges. If it is impossible to do internally start looking externally.
4. Look at other parts of the company, talk to clients and customers to learn about other types of opportunities.
You can explore new opportunities internally. A career pivot does not have to be to a new company. It’s worth exploring.
5. Explore all the options in an area that interests you.
If you like writing, the only option isn’t becoming a writer. There are a million jobs that utilize writing. Do some research on your area of interest and talk to as many people as you can in related areas.
6. If you do have 20 jobs, don’t put them all on your resume.
Choose the five that you learned something from and focus on those. And if you did quit because of something you don’t like…never say it. Think of a way to reframe it in the positive about a gap that you wanted to fill based on what you did learn at said job.
This post is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared in November 2010.
More articles you might like on career transition: