6 Reasons You Might Need a Career Change

Career Change

Covid-19 may have us all re-thinking our career paths and maybe even considering a career change. Whether you’ve been let go from your current position or are working from home, it can make you consider what you want from a career in the future. Even before this shift in our working lives, you might have felt the pull to make a change from academia for a while. Perhaps you have been in your research role for a long time and want to explore other options. Maybe working in industry is something you want to try out temporarily, with the option of returning to academia later. A different environment could be refreshing for you. There are many reasons why you might need a career change. If any of the scenarios below apply to you, it could be time to take the leap.

  1. You don’t feel energised by your work anymore

If you are going into the lab and feeling like you are in the same routine every day, it could be time to explore something new. Are you still passionate about the work you do? Or do you feel energised when you think of alternative options? If you like the routine nature of your work, then it’s perfectly ok to stick to what you currently do. But if you have to drag yourself into work every day and are always dreaming about doing something different, it’s a sign your energy for your current job is being drained. It indicates that you might want to explore options outside of your current role. Also note that you might want to look for additional responsibilities at your company or shape your role to give you more opportunities. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make a big change. Think about whether you would like minor changes to your day to day work, or really feel like making a big leap into something new.

  1. Your salary has stayed the same for a while

Depending on the company you work for and the market salary range for your industry and location, this can be a reason for wanting to make a career change. We often think that if we want to do work we love, we have to compromise on our pay. A lot of us also think that it’s ‘wrong’ to factor in salary into our job satisfaction. Remember that although salary is not everything, it is an important aspect of career fulfilment. If you know that the opportunities for salary progression are few and far between in your current role or organisation, think about roles you could do that would give you a step up in what you are being paid. Make a list of possible industries your skills could be useful in. Do some online research into average market salaries for these industries and the roles you could do.

  1. There aren’t development opportunities at your company

Does your current employer offer ways to build your skills to do your job better? Are there projects you can work on to expand your knowledge of different departments? Does your line manager have career development conversations with you? If the answer is no to more than one of these, you may want to look at other options. There are a couple of ways you can look at enhancing your career development. If you move to a large organisation, they are likely to have career development pathways and extensive training built into their culture. So it’s a more ‘done-for-you’ process when it comes to your development. Or, you can take charge of your career and drive your own development by being open to moving roles and/or companies whenever you feel you are ready for the next step. This could be a lateral move in your existing company, or a step up to a more senior role at a new company. There are many things you can to do drive your own development, and making a career change is one possibility if you aren’t getting these opportunities right now.

  1. You need a more flexible lifestyle

Perhaps you don’t want to do a practical job where you have to be in a lab anymore. Maybe the allure of working from home is attractive to you because of personal reasons. Switching to a role that is more desk-based could be an option if you are at a stage in life where you would like more flexibility. Having to be present to carry out practical work can be limiting if you need to be at home for your kids or have other caring commitments. Maybe it’s time to consider roles that allow remote working at least some of the time.

  1. You are frustrated by ways of working at your current organisation

Do you ever try to suggest something new and it’s not taken on board? Sometimes, methods of doing work are so established that a change - even if it makes processes more effective - feels like more effort to implement. If you have been trying to make positive changes to ways of working in your current team for a long time and aren’t getting anywhere, maybe it’s time to look for work at organisations where the culture is more open. Do your research before making a change, either online or offline if you know people who work there. Ask questions about the culture during your interview so you can get a sense of their openness to innovation.

  1. You are excited by the prospect of something new

Do you feel like you could apply your knowledge in a new industry? Perhaps you could continue working in a similar research area within the Pharma industry. Or you could try a role in Science Communication where you are conveying scientific concepts to others. Do these roles feel more exciting to you? They can give you a chance to use your scientific knowledge, but also apply new skills such as communicating, engaging with a wider range of people or project management. If you have a particular area that energises you and you find yourself daydreaming about doing one of these roles, it’s definitely a sign to explore something different!   Although negative experiences can push you towards making a career change, you can also just be ready and excited for your next step in your career and life. If you are currently in academia and decide to leave, remember that doesn’t mean you can’t return later. Career paths are no longer linear and getting industry experience can make you even more valuable as a scientist later down the line.  

If you are ready to take your career outside the lab and want to know how to start, watch our webinar on How Science Graduates Can Get a High Paying Job Outside the Lab Even if You Have Little to No Work Experience.  

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