80% of Americans are unhappy in their jobs. That’s a huge figure. Now I’m not sure what that number would be for us Brits – but I bet it would be something similar.
Yet I can understand why the number is so high.
Being unsure about your career path is totally normal, especially when you’re fresh out of college or university. To truly know what you want to do, you’ve got to experience it.
I’ve come across two main scenarios that have led people to being unhappy in their careers.
- You set your sights on a career, get your qualifications and get your first job – only to realise that it isn’t actually what you want to be doing. You’re stuck.
- Or, you feel so much pressure to get a job as soon as you graduate that you rush it and fall into the wrong one. You’re stuck.
I worked in magazines, agencies and e-commerce, before I finally settled on marketing in education.
So how can you know what you want to do if you haven’t tried anything?
When you’re job hunting, most of your effort goes into how you’re actually going to get the job, rather than working out whether it’s something you want. If you search for advice on CV’s and interviews, there’s endless information. But when it comes to knowing whether you want to do a job or not, the advice isn’t so clear.
You soon realise that, although you might have some idea of how you want your life and career to look in the future, you’d never know for sure unless you were doing it.
Say you want to work in beauty – what does that actually mean? You want to work in writing – what does that actually mean?
I am the perfect example of someone who’s worked lots of different jobs. I am also the perfect example of someone who’s worked lots of different jobs and come out the other side.
So today, I’m going to use myself as a case study, to show you that the myth is just a myth.
Moving from job to job doesn’t make you unreliable or unstable. It doesn’t make you picky or irrational. It’s not a bad thing.
Do you think it’s better to have lots of jobs on your CV or a gap in your CV?
Think about what that would look like on your CV.
So let’s just get one thing straight before we carry on. Jumping from job to job does not make you any less successful. OK?
Here’s what my CV looks like up until this point.
There’s a lot on there, right? And that doesn't include everything I did at university.
In the first year of my career, I’ve had four jobs, including the one I’m in now.
My dad has had four jobs within his whole career – and he’s in his early 50’s.
Gone are the days when you work 40 years for the same company and get a nice treat at the end of it. Things are different now. There are so many different opportunities available, and the amount of jobs out there have increased so much over the years.
Something I heard the other day sparked the idea for this post and I want to share it with you.
A teacher was talking to a big group of Year 11 students. They were far behind with their work and needed to catch up.
The teacher said:
That really struck a chord with me.
That’s the difference between me getting the first job I had, staying in it for years and at one point, wondering what the hell I was doing with my life – and leaving it, to find the career I’m meant to be in.
So yes, you can see that there are lots of different things on my CV.
After studying Magazine Journalism in my home city, I got my first job working for an E-Commerce website in Stockport.
I rushed into it. It was taking me two hours to get to work and two hours to get home. I didn’t have a life.
Two months later, I left and went into a digital marketing agency. At this point, I’d only done SEO for my blog, not professionally. But I was good at my job.
Unfortunately the employers didn’t think so.
Then I went onto another agency, doing more SEO and technical work. This wasn’t for me.
I also realised I never wanted to work for an agency again.
Which leads me on to where I am right now – working in the marketing department for one of the best sixth form establishments in our region.
I’ll be honest – this first year of my career has been the hardest of my life so far. The mental effects alone were bad enough.
Something no one really tells you when you’re going through life is this:
It’s really hard to figure out what you want.
You get so caught up in everything that sometimes, you don’t want to make a change. You give it the benefit of the doubt, a second chance.
If you need to do that, then it shouldn’t be what you want.
When you find something you enjoy, it’s like a chemical reaction. There’s no point in being 80% interested in what you do for a living. There’s no point in complaining about your walk to the car park. If it’s the job you want, then it should be worth it.
I don’t really believe that you should find a job that makes you want to jump out of bed in a morning. Even people with their dream job will have days when they don’t want to get up.
But I think what you need to find is a job that makes you happy to go to.
A year ago, I was going to Stockport and crying before I went to work because I didn’t want to go.
Now? We’re at the other end of the scale.
You may have had a few jobs, compared to your friends who’ve only had one. So what? If anything, it makes you stronger than them.
You’ve got the courage to carry on with you. Handing in your notice is hard. No matter what your reason is – it’s worrying and nerve-wracking, because you don’t know what your employer’s reaction will be.
You’ve also got a stronger skill set. Think about everything you’ll have learnt!
So here’s what I say. If you’re not sure of your career path, try them out. Do something at college or university that you’re good at and that you enjoy. Get involved in things outside of your studies, like different groups and academies. Thinking about being a chef? Start cooking every night and join a baking community.
There are always ways to try things out to see if you want to do them.
And when you do find that one thing that you can see yourself doing for a long time, take a beat.
You’ve made it.
It was all worth it.
Are you unsure of your career path? How do you feel about moving from job to job to find out what you want?