The re-election of Barack Obama to the White House has coincided with the release of mixed economic news in the U.S. Although the economy grew by an unexpected 2%, unemployment also increased slightly to 7.9% in October. Given this, and with more than 12 million Americans still unemployed, there is much work to do if the U.S. is to sustain a genuine economic recovery throughout 2013.
While job seekers in the U.S. may face significant challenges, those in full-time employment are not without their problems. According to the Legatum Institute's Annual Prosperity Index, America's employees are experiencing diminishing job satisfaction in their day-to-day roles, and a decreasing number of citizens believe in the notion that hard work will lead to professional success and fulfillment. These findings came on the back of a Monster Global Poll that was conducted in February 2012, which revealed that 56% of U.S. workers were considering a career change.
For those who are dissatisfied at work, the desire to change careers is an understandable one. This does not mean that it is a wise course of action. This is especially true if it is taken without sound reasoning or careful consideration. While technological evolution in the newspaper publishing and photo finishing industries may have forced employees to seek out new career opportunities, there are other motivational factors that offer far less justification for making significant changes.
Distinguish Between Job and Career
Over time, you may begin to dislike your manager, daily tasks or a number of workplace procedures that have been established by your employer. While these issues can cause significant levels of distress and anxiety, it is important to remember that they are associated with an individual place of work, rather than the industry as a whole. With this in mind, it is crucial to distinguish between the quality of each individual job that you undertake and your overall career, especially if you work within a diverse and rapidly expanding sector, such as the technology industry.
Understand the Job Market is Evolutionary
According to a SHRM survey, 55% of U.S. workers feel that flexible working arrangements are extremely important in 2012. Just 26% of workers feel that their current employers do enough to meet this requirement. For anyone considering a career change based on this issue, it is important to remember that the traditional working environment is constantly evolving to meet the needs of employees. Given that the issue of flexibility at work has already united republicans and democrats in U.S. Congress, it is likely that new legislation will be introduced to improve this situation over time.
Money Does Not Guarantee Happiness
While many people may be dissatisfied with the level of remuneration that they receive in their chosen careers, this does not mean that it provides a legitimate reason to change track. A recent study conducted by a professor at the University of Illinois suggests that a rise in salary will only offer short-term satisfaction to workers, as most are likely to re-evaluate their status and pay expectations as part of a continual cycle. Unless you believe that your chosen career path cannot deliver a high enough financial reward to support your lifestyle, then it is far better to focus on advancing within your existing industry.
The Bottom Line
With issues such as uncompromising management, inflexible working hours and relatively low pay remaining prominent throughout the U.S., it is easy to understand why many people are considering a career change. Similarly, poor economic growth has dictated that firms are unable to reward their employees in the way that they would like, which has left many of the nation's employees demotivated and dissatisfied with their professional lives.
It is important that you retain some perspective as an employee, and assess each individual issue on its own merit. Problems that relate to individual managers or tasks are not necessarily indicative of a bad career choice. Consider whether engaging in honest communication or changing employers may be a better course of action. After all, switching careers is a difficult challenge and not one that should be undertaken without a clearly defined and justifiable reason.