The HR Doctor


I have been working in a job for a while, though the pay is quite good. However, I feel empty and bored every day and cannot get over the desire that there is not what I want. This feeling is even though I have the academic qualifications for the job. What am I doing wrong and how do I balance purpose and profit in my career decision?

Dear John,

I empathize with this dilemma and I can relate with is as I have also been in those shoes before. To address the issue properly, you need to do some soul searching and ask yourself these questions:

  • When did this dissatisfaction with your job start? Has it always been there or something/someone triggered it?
  • Are there aspects to your job that you do like?
  • Have you identified what your purpose/passion is?

If your purpose/passion lies outside the confines of your current job, I would not advise you to leave your job immediately, but rather suggest you craft out your transition plan. Jenny Foss, A career specialist proffers the following steps to creating your transition plan:

1. Start with the Why

So many people know they hate or have outgrown their jobs, but they don’t have much awareness beyond that. You’ve got to get clear on the why before you just start steamrolling toward something new. Otherwise, you could end up in a different spot, but one that you still ultimately hate—and what’s the point of that effort? Think about these questions: Why do I want this? Why do I think this new career will make my life better? What might the downsides or risks be? Sometimes, in going through the exercise, you realize that things actually might not be as rosy as you’d fantasized about at all. And sometimes? The path will become even more appealing and make even better sense.

See also  Expert's Advice

2. Get Clear on the What

What does this new job or career look like? What does it not look like? What’s it called? Also, a very important question to consider: Do I have any career capital in this? In other words, are you going to be able to leverage your skills, your contacts, and your professional brand to make a successful transition? So many people drink the “follow your passion and everything will fall into place” Kool-Aid. But scientific research—done by a computer scientist named Cal Newport—shows that those who “follow their passions” statistically have a lower probability of finding long-term career fulfillment than those who leverage existing career capital when making a shift. Newport suggests—and I firmly agree—that you’re much better off pivoting into roles that leverage the career capital you’ve already built up over the years and drawing upon these areas of expertise in new and creative ways.

3. Figure Out the what’s it going to Take

Are you lacking certain skills that you need to be an attractive candidate for this new type of role? Do you need certifications? Classes? Licenses? Sometimes, even if you do, it’s entirely within reach. It could be a simple matter of taking an online course and gaining some baseline proficiency so that you can say confidently, “Yes, I know Excel” or “Yes, I can work in QuickBooks.” But sometimes, you need more extensive education or licensure. You need to sleuth this out and make decisions on whether you’re willing to make the front-end investment this pivot requires or not.You also want to outline the additional resources you’ll need to pull this off and tradeoffs it may require. 

See also  Expert's Advise

4. Make an Action Plan

Begin with the end in mind with your action plan. What’s your primary goal and ideal timeline? Once you’ve got that nailed, break it down into major milestones—skills you need to acquire, people you need to meet, things you need to wrap up in your current job, personal things you need to attend to before making this shift. What are the milestones? Assign yourself daily or weekly tasks so that you know what, exactly, you’ll be doing when you sit down in front of your computer in the name of “career pivot.” You don’t want to freewheel this. As you complete these tasks, you’ll also likely notice how small steps tend to have a snowball effect and give you both momentum and confidence that this is, in fact, a very real possibility.

5. Track the Effort

Respect yourself enough to track the effort. Monitor how you’re doing and what you need to be doing next. Set up reminders so you follow up on things when you need to. If you’re going to invest time and energy to make this happen, invest the time and energy to track your progress. A simple Excel spreadsheet will do you wonders. If you’re not an Excel person, use the tool that makes the most sense to you so you don’t abandon ship on it.\

6. Shift Your Brand

You will need to shift your professional brand so that you make sense to your new target audience. Simple rule: The easier you make it for them to “get” you, the better the odds that they’ll want to know more. Nobody’s going to deduce how or why you “may” make sense for any particular role or career path. Forget about it. Instead, you have to make it “smack in the forehead obvious” on your resume, your LinkedIn profile, your cover letter—why you make perfect sense for the roles you’re applying for. Your competitors, at least some of them, are going to look great on paper, because they’ve been in that industry or worked in similar roles for several years. So how are you going to brand yourself in a way that not only makes you seem logical, but maybe positions you as a clear standout?

See also  Experts Advise on Human Resources Issues 3

7. Mobilize Your Support Network

Get your people on board, especially the ones you know will always have your back. Yes, you might need to be a bit covert about your intentions if you’re still employed elsewhere, but this is no time to operate completely under the radar. Pick your most trusted contacts and enlist their help.

And when you do, be specific. Telling people, “Hey, I’m thinking about becoming a grant writer” is fine and well, but it doesn’t really spell out what you need, or how—specifically—they can help the most.

8. Acquaint yourself with the Right People

You absolutely must get to know passionate and successful people working within that new field of interest. Don’t stress about this. People are more generous with their time and input than you think, especially when you show interest in them and acknowledge or validate something they’re doing professionally.

I hope these steps will provide some guide to you in finding and achieving your purpose.

All the Best! 

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