For Karen Sheehe, it was the physical illness and the hives during meetings.
While many people don’t have such obvious signs that they are in the wrong job, that doesn’t mean most of us are happy in our chosen careers. In fact, quite the opposite appears to be true.
Tricia Nabors, president of Nabors Coaching Group, cites a 2017 Gallup World Poll that found only 15% of the world’s one billion full-time workers are engaged at work. That leaves a whopping 85% who are unhappy in their jobs. The poll found the job satisfaction situation slightly better in the U.S., with roughly 70% of workers dissatisfied.
Sheehe spent 20 years as an engineer for a public utility before facing that reality. “I went into that career for good reasons that I was very proud of,” she says.
Yet when she finally went to a career coach and took a career assessment, the job of engineer turned up at the bottom of the list. Instead, her assessment report put high-interaction, social-skill careers like human resources, employee development and career coaching at the top of the list.
“I was like, ‘Wow, that sounds like fun,’ “ recalls Sheehe, who is now a career and retirement coach for Samaritan Business Consulting.
While you may not experience physical illness, there are other signs you might be in the wrong job, reports PA CareerLink Lancaster County. Perhaps you frequently become frustrated or angry about your job, you find yourself constantly complaining about work, or you simply don’t enjoy the work you do.
Sometimes, Nabors adds, you might have to reflect on why you’re really unhappy, and you may discover it’s not your job at all.
“Americans preach home is home and work is work, but we cross the lines all the time,” Nabors says. “People bring their home to work and they take work home. …If your work is following you home and you’re not happy about that, reassessment is on the horizon.”
Reassessment can help you determine if you simply need to change employers in your chosen field or if you need to move in a new direction altogether. You should also consider if there are changes you can make in your current job that could make it better, at least in the short term, Sheehe says.
“Don’t leave a job. Have a plan to get out of it,” Sheehe says. “I went back and got a graduate degree. I kept working. Knowing I had an end, it was a whole different perspective.”
If you decide you need a change, figuring out what that change should be can be daunting. Here are some steps you can take:
Consider your passions
Can you find a job that combines the hard skills you already have with something you love? “Say I’ve worked in a high-tech industry for years and years, but really what I love is to be outside and work in landscaping,” Sheehe says. “Those are two very different career paths. Maybe I can become the IT person to the landscapers.”
Take a self-assessment
Nabors and Sheehe recommend personality-based assessments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Career Report, DiSC Profile and the book “Do What You Are,” which match your personality type with occupations that people with that same type have found satisfying. “Personality is really looped into career choice,” Nabors says.
Do your research
O*NET OnLine offers information on every position imaginable, including necessary training and education level, typical work activities and tasks, required skills and abilities, and the types of interests, work styles and values that best fit with that occupation. Once you find a potential new career, the experts says, connect with people who are working in that field. Attend a webinar, take a free course or join a LinkedIn group to learn more.
Consult a career coach
Even if you take your own career assessment, sometimes it’s helpful to have someone decipher the results, Nabors says, noting that career coaches can also give you the encouragement you need to make a change. Oftentimes, people don’t think they have the skills necessary to move on to a better job. “It’s helpful to have that third party try to pull those things out of you,” she says. “Your mind is your best friend; it’s also your worst enemy.”
Think outside the box
“I often use the analogy, as we look for jobs we have our blinders on the sides of our heads, like the little Amish horse, and we just have to peel it back,” Sheehe says. “The view is really big and we’re just making it smaller. In this market we have now, you have to take those blinders off and put your head on a swivel. Opportunities are out there and they could be out there in organizations and roles that may not have existed three months ago.”
“A lot of times we don’t even give ourselves permission to think and dream outside the box,” Nabors says. “Give yourself that permission. What is it I could do? How could I negate that 85% and be happy on the job?”