Switching Careers and Career Progression

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

This well-known quote from Maya Angelou, the American poet, singer, and civil rights activist can be applied to almost anything in your life. But the one area where it's incredibly crucial and relevant is in your career. If you're dissatisfied with your current role or workplace, then you have the power to change it. 

People can become dissatisfied with their careers for a wide variety of reasons. Perhaps they have found out that being part of a large corporation doesn't fit with their working style, or that life in a consulting firm isn't hands-on enough, or that the giant tech company they have joined doesn't offer the freedom that was promised. Wanting more career development opportunities to be provided by their employers where they can achieve their own career goals with organizational support is another reason why people make the switch.

If you're not feeling your current gig, then maybe you have arrived at the point where you want to make a career change. Before doing anything drastic, it helps to think through the reasons for why you want to make a switch. If any of the following reasons ring true for you, then maybe it's time to take action. 

There is no learning curve

If you feel like your learning on the job has plateaued and you're not acquiring any new skills or challenging yourself, then this can be a sign that you need to make a change.

The company culture doesn't fit

There can be considerable differences in a company's culture depending on the type of company and the stage it is at. Startups usually have a very informal work culture whereas a corporate company can be more rigid. It could be that one of these environments doesn't work for you, so it would be time to try a different company culture.

You don't gel with your colleagues 

In most roles, you spend between 8 and 10 hours per day working alongside your colleagues. If you don't get along with, or perhaps even dislike, your co-workers, then going to work every day is going to feel like a chore and maybe even something you dread. If this is the case, then getting out could be your best option.

You don't enjoy the role and tasks 

It can often be the case that the tasks you end up performing in a job don't match up to the job description that you applied for. This isn't necessarily a problem, but if you don't believe in what you are working on, then there is a high likelihood that you'll be unhappy. Often, we'll be happy to take on almost any task as long as we believe in the overall product we're working on, but if neither the product nor the role and responsibilities align with what you're looking for, then it might be time to exit. 

The workload isn't what you expected

Your workload expectations can actually go two ways. If you're in a large organization with a massive team around you, there's a chance that your workload might not be so significant. This can lead to feelings of boredom and even make you feel undervalued. On the flip side, you might experience a workload that is too high and be the subject of unrealistic expectations. Either of these scenarios can be a reason to seek new pastures. 

The salary isn't right for you

If you've reached the point where you no longer feel that the salary you're receiving is adequate for your role, or that you're engaged in a lot of work that is above your pay grade, then you might feel like it is time to look for something new.

What should I do next?

You might think that the obvious move in this situation is just to quit your job and look for something new. While that it's one option, there are also other ways in which you can cope with this feeling that might be a little less drastic.

Try being patient

Early in your career, you might expect that things should progress faster than they actually do. Maybe you're hungry for more responsibility, or keen to learn more skills. The answer to your frustration might be to try being more patient and give more time for things to grow and develop. It can help to take a more long-term view, and if you see the prospect of things getting better over time, then exercise a little patience. 

Ask for a promotion

If you feel that you've outgrown your current position, or that you're ready to move up a level, then instead of leaving to find a more senior job in a new company, you could ask for a promotion within your current company. Getting a promotion would bring new challenges, new things to learn, and new skills to acquire without leaving the comfort of your current company. This could be what it takes to make you feel happy in your workplace again and provide the best next step for your career. 

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

When you're unhappy with the role you are in and no longer feel motivated or driven to keep going with it, a solution could be to speak with your management and ask if there would be an opportunity to switch roles within the team. If you've performed well, are a good, positive influence, and are valued by your employers, then there is a strong chance that you will be offered a new position. 

Switch companies

If you don't feel like the company culture is working for you, or you aren't gelling with your colleagues, but the role or job itself is one that suits you, the solution could be to look for the same job in a different company. We spend such a large amount of our time at work that it doesn't benefit you to stay in a workplace that is making you unhappy. Cut your losses and get out.

I'm ready to leave, now what?

If you decide that leaving your job really is the best option for you, then there are some different options available for your career switch and progression.

Find a new role within the same industry

In this scenario, you can decide to stay in the same sector but look for a new job that fits better or is more stimulating. For example, you could stay within the FinTech world and use your experience of the industry to take a sidestep into a new role. 

Switch the industry you work in

If you like the specifics of your role or field of expertise, changing to a new industry is a good option for developing your career. If you enjoy the process of marketing, you could apply your experience and skills to a new industry. When your skills are transferable, you can move between areas to keep your interest high and to continue to develop professionally.

Change the type of company you work for

Maybe the role you're in is the right one for you, and the industry is one that you feel passionate about. In this case, changing the type of company you work for might be the right choice. If you're in an established or more corporate company, finding a job in a startup could be the next career move. Startups offer incredible opportunities and new ways of working and can be much more exciting than more established companies. 

I'm going to a startup! What can I expect?

There are three main types of changes that you might make when switching to a startup, depending on your background.

Switching from consulting to a startup

There are some key differences between life in a consultancy and life at a startup. The pace of a startup is much faster, and the focus is on building products from scratch. You'll no longer be advising other people on what to do, but instead, you'll be at the core of the operations, making things happen. The team will be diverse and there will often be a lot of cross-functional work. Expect to wear many hats and to get your hands dirty. It's less about things being 100% perfect and more about getting things done to move the needle. 

Switching from a large tech company to a startup

One of the biggest differences you will feel between working at a large tech company and a startup is the inherent speed and sense of ownership. At larger and more established tech companies, the level of your impact can be more limited. These companies have often been through their periods of intense growth, and it's more of a 'business as usual' vibe. At startups, teams are much smaller, will move way faster, and, as a result, you'll hold more influence and have more of an impact. You'll have a lot of responsibility and be able to see the results of your work quite rapidly. This will give you a real sense of ownership and make you feel a part of the company's overall success. 

Switching from a corporate to a startup

The difference between corporate culture and startup style can be stark. If you've been accustomed to the more formal, hierarchical structure of a large corporate, the agile, dynamic, and fast-paced environment in a startup can be a bit of a shock. There can be a higher degree of flexibility around work, with more speed, variable hours, and remote working opportunities. At the same time, you'll often need to work longer and harder than you might at a corporate. The payoff is that you will have greater individual responsibility and a stronger feeling of independence. 

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