How many people are unhappy in their jobs? Would you estimate 30 percent, 40, maybe 50? The Pew Charitable Trusts reported that 30 percent of people feel their jobs are “just a job to get them by.” According to Forbes, 52.3 percent are unhappy at work, while 63 percent are not engaged in their jobs. And, finally, the New York Daily News reported that 70 percent of U.S. workers are unhappy with their jobs.
It’s reasonable to conclude that more than 50 percent of the population is working for a paycheck and do not love their jobs. These employees would like to make a change, but they simply don’t know how to get started. The whole idea of making a significant career shift is overwhelming. If this scenario sounds familiar, let’s discuss a few ways you get unstuck and eventually find a job you enjoy.
Many people have asked me; “So, where do I start”? They’re embarrassed to talk about making a career change with family or close friends, so what’s the best way to explore other options. Of course, the internet allows us to type in the phrase: “How to become a ... ” Thousands of websites will appear with advice on any career you can imagine. You will find blogs, websites and thousands of other resources that can help you explore options.
Visit a local college and invest an hour talking with a counselor or recruiter. If they have a program you find interesting, then ask them if you can speak with a faculty member or, better yet, an alumnus who is working in the area you might enjoy. It’s been my experience that people are very willing to share their experiences and want to help others in their quest to find a job they enjoy. It is also much easier to be honest and candid with a stranger than it is with family or friends. There are tons of people out there willing to help; you’ve just got to ask.
I’ve also run into parents who would like to discuss career options with their children, but they have no idea how to start the conversation. “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” If the answer is, “I have no clue”, then here’s something that can get the conversation going.
Get back on Google and ask the question: “List the most common jobs.” What will pop up on your screen are many similar lists with 50 or more job titles. Ask your children to describe their understanding of each job title. There is no right or wrong answer. The objective is to initiate a conversation that will help you both identify a general direction you can research in greater depth.
In the process of helping your children explore career options, it is very important to share our own experiences. I remember telling my children that I once considered being a dentist because my favorite uncle was a dentist. They laughed, but then we discussed the fact that many career decisions are pretty random and that’s how we end up in jobs we don’t enjoy. Thirty years later we still share our dreams and discuss career choices that will make each of our lives more enjoyable.
So, the ultimate question is, “Are you happy in your job?” If the answer is “Yes!” then congratulations! If not, then ask yourself what’s holding you back from making a change?
PS: My daughter made a major career change in her early 30s and is now enjoying her job as an interior designer. I would like to believe that our conversations when she was a teenager helped Sara develop the confidence to take the risk and make the change. Maybe it’s time for you to begin Chapter 2 in your journey!
Bill Kaminski is president of Stone Associates Training. He is an HR consultant with 35 years of experience in the employment field, teaching managers the art of hiring great employees. Bill is also an adjunct instructor at Keuka College. You can contact Bill with questions, suggestions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.