The next industry Millennials “destroy” is ourselves and the burnout will be televised. According to an annual Deloitte Survey, almost half of Millennials are unhappy at their current job and plan to quit/switch to nontraditional work within their career. Maybe that’s why How to Make a Career Change ft. Jeff Johnson was our most downloaded episode of 2018.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. – Steve Jobs
If wages continue to stagnate and competition among employers increases, we can reasonably expect that younger generations will continue to frequently switch jobs in pursuit of happiness (and liveable wages). After all, changing jobs is one of the last proven strategies to get a raise. In fact, one study found that employees who stay loyal to their companies for longer than two years may get paid 50 percent less (PB70: Make Money Moves). How? On average, employers offer new hires 10 – 20 percent raises but their current employees only annual raises of 1 – 5 percent. To the surprise of no one, these CEOs
Here are five areas to be mindful of as you prepare for your next career change.
Don’t quit your day job, yet
It might be hypocritical to open with the unfairness of work’s compensation structure, then advise you not to quit. That’s because you can get rich working for someone else when your career itself is worth millions. Don’t underestimate the security your day job provides as you prepare for a career change. As you build a client base, skills, or future income, the biggest challenge you will face is generating steady income. This is a problem your current job has likely already solved for you aka slow money is better than no money.
On PB72: The 9-to-5 Training Ground ft. Lynnette “The Money Coach” Khalfani-Cox, she talked about how the day job provides the most consistent means of income for most people. Even if your day job isn’t your dream job, it allows you to expand your skills while gaining valuable experience before you transition to another career or self-employment. There are many self-employed entrepreneurs who would kill for consistent income over the variability of invoicing and chasing after vendors to get paid. Do not underestimate the benefits of a consistent paycheck.
Further, there are several additional costs that you’ll need to cover once self-employed. Erin Lowry is a millennial who literally wrote the book on money and self-employment (PB53: Broke Millennial ft. Erin Lowry). She explains that expenses like health care, potentially higher taxes, and the ebb-and-flow of variable income is a natural part of entrepreneurial employment. This isn’t a reason not to take the leap, but it is a reason to make sure you have a financial parachute to pull while you figure out how you’ll cover these costs when the “bi-weekly paycheck” is no longer guaranteed.
Figure out what makes you happy, then get paid for it
What career should I pursue next? That is the million dollar question. You’ll have to answer this for yourself, but there are plenty of tools and options that can help with your decision making. How to make a career change at 30 requires a different personal analysis than how to make a career change at 40. Proactively adapt and revisit your career pathway as you age.
First, if money makes you happy, then chase the money. But, if money (alone) doesn’t make you happy, then stop taking jobs just for good pay, comfort, and “security.” You’ll just be a very well-paid unhappy person. As I moved from my 20s to late-30s and prepare for what work will look like in my 40s, here is what worked from me.
I sat down and reflected on my “happiest” moments throughout the year. I quickly realized very few of them had anything to do with work. The majority of my happy days occurred on my “off” days. I dreaded seeing them end (i.e. I eagerly looked forward to Fridays but by Sunday I was already fearing the arrival of Monday). But, I didn’t stop there.
I asked myself, “why was I so happy on those off days? What, specifically, was I doing?” For one, although I was off from traditional work, I wasn’t not working at all. Typically, I was working on the podcast, mentoring and coaching, writing, or managing my personal finances. It became clear to me that I spend 80 percent of my time working 40 hours doing something that only made me marginally happy. I only spent 20 percent of my time doing things that made me infinitely happy. The “simple” solution was to inverse this ratio. I put a plan together and have been pursuing it ever since. This was not a work-related problem (the job was fine and nothing had changed). This was a me problem. Who better to solve it than myself?
You have to work really hard to get to a point where you hardly work
I found that the longer you work in any given career pathway, the more people expect you to keep working in that career. It’s called a career ladder not a career exit; most jobs are designed to move you ever up the escalator of promotion, indifferent to whether your interest changes as you age. Therefore, as you explore new opportunities, you’ll need to prepare not only to answer the traditional “why should we hire you?” question but also their likely curiosity when they ask, “why are you looking to change careers?”
Your interviewer may wonder why you’ve worked in one field for years and “suddenly” you want to make a career change. As a Hiring Manager, I can tell you that honesty is the best policy here. I’m not going to fault someone for wanting to find happiness — as long as they don’t try to find happiness every 12-months, because in the latter scenario they might not know what makes them happy, yet. Unfortunately, as employees of the company ourselves, we do have to look out for the organization’s interest. In other words, we don’t want to be a testing playground as you job hop until you land in the perfect job (that isn’t us). Hiring, training, and interviewing is a costly investment in you by the company as well. It’s a two-way street, but
Another reason I recommend the honest approach is because I don’t want to work for a company that doesn’t want to encourage my growth before, during, and after them. You can reasonably calm their “job hopping” concerns with a response that confirms your commitment, rather than you’re going through a quarter- or mid-life crisis and need this job so you can buy a sports car and invest in bitcoins. Instead, express that you are genuinely interested in new opportunities and the personal growth that will come from their job offer.
Is it too late to make a career change?
It’s never too late to make a career change. In reality, the further you are into one career the more choices, and potential sacrifices, you may have to make during the initial transition. This is especially true if you’re looking to move into a completely different career field.
Career changes after 40: You might also consider a career pivot versus a career change. According to PB42
guest Marc Miller, who specializes in helping experienced workers find new careers, a pivot can take many forms. It doesn’t even have to be full-time work. It can be as simple as finding something to keep you busy and fulfilled until you’re ready to enjoy full-time retirement.
For example, you likely won’t be able to pivot directly from Executive Management in one career field right into Management in a completely unrelated field, even if you do have 20+ years of work experience. You can, however, move into a different career field at a lower level and quickly rise through the ranks because of your prior experience. In this scenario, a temporary sacrifice in title and pay ultimately allows you to move faster through your new career ladder. If the new career ladder has a higher rate of pay, or better bonus structure, you can even make more money in the long-term than staying in a dead-end career where you’ve already reached the top promotional tier.
Build your dream job with Freelance Work
The traditional workforce isn’t for everyone. Even for the
Studies show that to keep their costs low and profit high, employers are systematically pushing out older, high-cost employees beginning as early as age 50. When you couple this with the fact that Millennials Face the Scariest Financial Future Since the Great Depression, it’s really not difficult to see why the now largest generation occupying the workforce is personally vested in wage security beyond the borders of their cubicles. In other words, Millennials didn’t land on the gig economy, the gig economy landed on us.
A thread from @BlackFreelance on Twitter reinforces how sometimes the “secure” workforce is the one that forces you to pursue nontraditional income streams in the first place. Learning from her own experience and witnessing her father’s layoff, she “started BF to leave breadcrumbs to other Black freelancers.”
Think of freelancing as insurance against the inevitable ups and downs that a lifetime of employment brings with it. – Black Freelance
For example, if you’re a writer like myself, there are lots of forums and great accounts like Help A Reporter Out, @WritersofColor, among many others, constantly sharing opportunities. You don’t necessarily have to quit work, but the only person who is going to look out for you is you. The belief that security is provided by one income stream — there’s a growing body of evidence that two income streams aren’t enough — is false if it can be easily disrupted simply because your employer wakes up one morning and decides to save a few dollars at your expense with a Thanos snap.
The problem with a job is that relying on others to give you a living is the biggest risk of all. – Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Diversifying your income streams lessen the chance that any one person or employer can take away your ability to cover your bills. If you’re not sure where to start, find like-minded individuals who are interested in seeing you proposer in or outside of your industry. If such a space doesn’t exist for people in your career field, what is something stopping you from creating it? It sounds like you’ve already found your niche.
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