7 signs that it's time to change careers

Does it seem like we’re all stuck doing the same jobs year after year? The U.S. job market is actually a lot more fluid than many people think. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American born in the later years of the baby boom generation (1957-64) held 11.7 jobs between the ages of 18 and 48.

Changing jobs is often a positive move, a good way to keep things fresh from a career and personal standpoint. But when is the time right to make a change? Though the BLS doesn't keep track of the number of times people change careers, there are telltale signs that you should probably be looking for a new line of work.

UCI Extension career coaching instructor Jeannie K. Sticher, who has more than 20 years’ experience in senior level customer and human resource positions, offered seven indicators that change should be in your future.

1. It’s impossible to move upward or sideways from your current position. Maybe there's no room to maneuver inside your company. Maybe others are being promoted over and around you. If that's the case, it's time to acquire more skills or find a job where you don't feel invisible.

2. Your boss is unpleasant or demeaning. All of us have bad days at work. But enduring this type of a situation on a daily basis is reason to move out of your current team or leave the company altogether.

3. Your best strengths or skills are not recognized or valued. Sometimes it's difficult to demonstrate newly acquired skills at your current company because you're already pigeonholed by your past work. It may be time to look for an employer that values your new skill set.

4. Your work-life balance is totally out of whack. Everyone has times when personal life suffers because of long hours at the workplace. But is this a regular occurrence?

5. There’s a profound lack of passion for your career, position or company. This can mean it’s time to pursue new interests.

6. The company is sinking! No need to go down with the ship. Loyalty is valued, but you need to take care of yourself and those at home who depend on you.

7. Being your own boss is an unrealized dream. Is it time to finally break out and become an entrepreneur?

If one or more of these sound all too familiar, Sticher says you have three choices. “One, suck it up and be miserable. Two, discuss the situation with a mentor, human resources or a good friend and decide what developmental skills or talents are needed to be promoted or move into a different position. Three, assess your personal situation. It may be time to be your own boss! Do you have a good idea that you know would be a hit? Might be time to take the leap."

As UCI Extension instructor, Sticher is one of many educators who help make a career leap possible. Sometimes that means helping students gain new skills at a current job; other times it means learning a new line of work. UCI Extension offers a number of programs and seminars helpful to those in transition, along with a range of career training and retraining programs. These include more than 60 certificate programs covering areas such as business management and leadership, education, engineering, environment and facilities, information technologies, legal and life sciences.

UCI Extension offers on-campus and online courses, from Advanced Mobile Development for Apple iPhone and iPad to Writing Queries Using MS SQL Server 2012. Career-related webinars, available for free, include such diverse topics as “The Art and Science of Spa Menu Development” and “Gamification in Secondary Education.”

Last year, UCI Extension launched the Career Coaching online course. Participants receive personalized feedback on essential career planning and advancement tools like creating a personal brand, networking and drafting a resume and cover letter. Coaching also includes instruction on how to manage relationships and communicate one’s value in writing and during interviews.

So if you are seeing signs that it’s time for a new career, take a look at all the career resources available at UCI Extension. On a dedicated Career Resources web page, you’ll find information on how to enroll in the Career Coaching Online Course and have access to a host of free Online Self Access Career Planning Modules. These easy-to-follow modules include instructions and worksheets on a wide range of topics including identifying your skills and interests, resume writing and interviewing techniques.

There are also links to a variety of live and on-demand events, as well as videos posted on YouTube. With the right information and preparation, you might find that making a career change is just what you needed.

Julia Clerk, Tribune Content Solutions

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