Reaching a Career Crossroad
Practical Help to Avoid a Professional Junction
Inevitably some people will reach a juncture in their careers and will feel unsure which direction to take. This may occur as a result of a number of personal or professional events such as lack of growth and development opportunities in the workplace, lack of career opportunities, redundancy, milestone birthdays, poignant dates, bereavement, lack of goals and the list goes on.
If the career crossroad feeling is left unchecked for long periods of time, it can result in many negative feelings and experiences, such as total dissatisfaction in the workplace, low self-esteem, dissonance and friction in terms of career values, lack of engagement, going through the work motions but not actively participating in the work at hand.
Another factor that may exacerbate the career crossroads experience is the present challenging and turbulent times. The turbulent economic time has forced many people to look at their careers constructively and sometimes out of circumstances rather than choice.
It is also a time when many people may be attempting to reconcile their career values with business values, and if this is a lack of harmony, then this can accelerate the process.
Like with many things, prevention is better than cure, which is why it is imperative to ensure any career strategy, incorporates the capacity and flexibility to deal with the career crossroad scenario if it were to ever arise.
In the event that no thought has been given to a career crossroad scenario, it is worthwhile to appreciate the factors or feelings associated which have led to a carer crossroad scenario.
This thought process subsequently enables the individual to take effective remedial measures.
What Factors Lead to a Career Crossroad?
There are many factors that lead to career crossroads, and some of them have been highlighted below:
- Organizational restructuring
- Job redundancy
- Want to move to flexible working patterns
- Lack of career progression
- Need to honor personal commitments such as young children, elderly parents
- Wrong choice of career
- No longer enjoying the work challenges
- Reaching a career plateau in a role and not being able to make a move to the next level.
- Change in corporate culture
- Professional evolvement may mean an individual’s current employment situation doesn’t accommodate new professional growth.
What are People Likely to Experience When They Reach a Crossroads?
The list is endless in terms of what an individual is likely to face if s/he were ever to reach a career crossroads. Some of those emotions and feelings are highlighted below:
- Frustration at being able to actualize full career potential
- Lack of motivation which affects both the personal and professional sphere
- Lack of clarity in terms of how to move forward
- Lack of career satisfaction
- Dissonance as a result of career values being out of sync
- Career disillusionment and something is “missing,” yet an individual is unable to pinpoint what is missing in his/her career.
- Lack of career opportunities in the current workplace leads to feeling “locked in.”
- Feeling unappreciated in the workplace
- Consistently “clock watching and wishing the time away
- Living for the weekend
- Feeling as if there are limited choices
- Lack of engagement in the tasks at hand
- Putting up with “second best” professionally
- The grass looks “greener” elsewhere
- Lack of loyalty to work
Overcoming the Career Crossroad Feeling
Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This is great for those people who know what they want to do when they first set out, but not everyone has a clear career strategy.
More often than not, many people will engage in trial and error before selecting a role that suits their interests and needs.
What is most beneficial, if an individual finds s/he has reached a career crossroad, is to carry out a self-assessment:
- It is important to get a good understanding of the root causes of any career crossroad situation. Without this awareness, it is extremely challenging to come up with an effective solution, and only the surface will be scratched. If there is no deeper understanding of the factors which have led to a career crossroads, then there is a great danger of the situation repeating itself in the future.
- Identify skill sets, strengths, and weaknesses.
- Looking at any future career path as being a fluid process that will reflect the changes in an individual, both personally and professional
- Seek the advice and services of professionals such as careers advisors and career coaches
For the above to be effective, it helps to:
- Adopt a positive mindset
- Have greater self-belief
- Be flexible
- Being creative when coming up with a strategy
- Carrying out extensive research on careers and roles which are appealing
- Update resumes/CVs to reflect changes. Most people will “dust off” an old copy and make superficial changes, but it is worth taking the time to update it diligently.
Reaching a career crossroads need not be a daunting and scary process. Instead, it can be seen as an opportunity for greater growth and development to reach new professional and personal heights.