A potential career change: what are some questions to ask oneself before knowing it's the right move?

Hello huttlers,

A question about questions. How do I know a career change is right for me? Or better yet, if I do know a career change is right, what do I ask myself to find out if that is the right career for me?

I was 99% sure that I wanted to pursue Digital Marketing and I'm still more or less committed in still chasing that goal.

But recently, I found myself thinking of my other strengths and skills and interests. What questions do you think I should ask myself about choosing which path to take?

In asking myself about my interests, I narrowed it down to staying in Research (with a different company, different type of research analytics), pursuing a Digital Marketing career, and pursuing a career where more than 70% of responsibility is writing (not journalism or becoming an author).

I've all but eliminated staying in research by asking myself the question: what aspect of the job is a core essential/will never change regardless of organization?

What are some other questions that I should ask myself?

Sorry for the long write up. It is just a major dilemma that I would really really appreciate more feedback on.

Thank you so much all!

I would add: You don't need to *know* that it's right. A career is a process of testing yourself and trying things. Eventually, you'll find something that fits... until it doesn't anymore. Then you can try something else.

The most important thing to do is be honest with yourself. This is harder than it sounds. We WANT to be generous, analytical, creative, organized. We expect ourselves to be hard-working, successful leaders. But the reality is that we have strengths and weaknesses, and the key to career happiness is admitting to yourself that you love something you wish you didn't, and that you suck at something that you feel like you're supposed to own.

The second-most-important thing is to be deeply thoughtful about your situation. You may be in the wrong career in the right company. Or the right career but the wrong department. Or an almost-right career, but with a crappy boss. Making small changes can make big differences, too.

Hello again Eric, just wanted to say again, I really appreciate your insight.

I had more time to think about your response yesterday and I'm starting to fully accept that a career is not a linear path. It is not a clear and paved path, but can be more a winding route of discovery.

I have recently learned that you have a remarkable background leading many extraordinary companies. With that said, I thought you may be one of the best to answer this for me:

In trying to be honest with myself and understanding my own limitations, would you say that it is better to keep sharpening my strengths, or try to improve upon my weaknesses in hopes of getting better with them over time?

Or is it that in being honest with myself, I would discover that some things are not in my 'genetic predisposition' to really excel at certain things (despite my interest in it), and would it best serve my to focus on what I'm good at? Is this where testing and trying new things come into play and how to go about doing so--in my current job or outside of it?

I would love to get more wisdom from you; please feel free to answer when you have the time

Thank you!

You need to separate "strengths and weaknesses" from "skills and gaps." The former reflects your innate talents. The latter reflects what you've learned at what you can do. I'd recommend something like Gallup's Strength Finder tool to learn more about this.

After you determine your strengths, you should focus on a career that aligns against those strengths, and avoid a career that aligns against your weaknesses. Your skills will come with experience.

Thank you Eric, this is extremely helpful! I will be sure to refer to the Gallup Strength Finder as a starting point.

Really appreciate all of this

An eye-opening post. Keeping all of this in mind, during my introspective search of what feels right.

Thanks Eric!

One thing to consider: what's driving you away from your current career? What DON'T you like? This can be really helpful to think about, too. The times that I start to think about a new career are generally the times when I'm most unhappy at work.

Be careful not to glamorize a different line of work - the grass is always greener.

Not intended to stop you from making a move. Just be sure that you have clarity around your motivations!

Thanks Michelle! Yes, it is a very important question to ask oneself! This was one of the major reasons that I am leaning towards switching careers, as it ties into another question I ask myself: what aspect of the job is a core essential/will never change regardless of organization?

And for me, that core essential is something that I really can't get around in my current position.

So I totally agree that your question is a crucial one to consider. You're absolutely right in saying that the grass isn't always greener. I'm just hoping to question my motivations even more, to find out if I even want to continue working in grassy areas; perhaps I'm better suited in an environment with a different type of surface :D

First of all, this is an amazing post, and I'm so glad you asked it because it gets at the root of the human experience: "what am I meant to do?"

Unfortunately, due to the very nature of the question, it's not only hard to answer but hard to provide an answer that is perfect for everyone so the best I can tell you is what I tell myself and my closest friends: follow what interests you and always put yourself in the place where you can learn the most. If you do those two things, then you will always head in the right direction.

**Here's my own story:** My first passion was comics so I thought I wanted to write comic books. Did that, got the book picked up by publisher, but realized there's so much behind-the-scene politics with the business that I knew I didn't want to write. But, I turned that book deal into an internship at Marvel Comics. From there, I moved out to NYC because I wanted to follow my interest in publishing and comics. I ended up having an offer from Quidsi as an Email Marketing associate (something I didn't know much about) and a second round interview at DC Comics as an Editorial Accounting Coordinator. Though the job at DC Comics would be following my interest in comics, the job wouldn't be one where I was learning. So, I joined Quidsi because it had the most potential to teach me something new. From there, I realized I liked marketing so I learned as much as I could at Quidsi, then I moved to Bonobos, and then, in an interesting twist, I made my way back to comics leading up Retention and Acquisition for ComiXology.

But at each of those companies, I spent some free time mentoring others through their careers, and now, I'm building Huttle. To be totally frank, I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I know that building the Huttle community helps me continue to pursue my interests and puts me in a position to learn a ton because not only will I learn more about marketing, growth, and retention but also engineering, product, and operations.

So, to circle back to your question, I think a few questions I'd ask myself would be:

1) What gets me excited every morning?

2) What is a business role that I find interesting?

3) In 10 years, what would my dream job look like?

Once you find answers to those three questions, work backwards. If you want to be a Director of Marketing at ESPN in 10 years, what role would you need to have in 8 years to get the interview? Working backwards again, what or where would you need to be in 5 years to get that job? Continue to work backward until you reach today, and that will create a rough roadmap for your career.

As always, reply back if you have any more questions or thoughts!

If that was an amazing post, your response is topnotch. Thank you so much for that, Chris!

Those are the type of introspective questions that I was seeking. This will help a ton! Plus, your personal anecdote really puts everything into perspective ; it's a story that I haven't experienced but a similar situation that I (and many others of the community) can relate to.

Bravo on your decision, it turned out to be the correct move, by far!

And I gotta say, Huttle is invaluable to myself and everyone else that you reach. I really appreciate what you're doing with this. Here's to your continued growth with this supportive community!