There is no doubt that we are living in uncertain times. When the clock struck midnight on January 1st, nobody could have predicted what 2020 had in store.

While for many of us, times have been hard, every cloud has a silver lining. As lockdown measures start to ease and case numbers tail off in some parts of the world, it’s a perfect time to evaluate what you want to achieve and to think about making changes that will benefit you moving forwards.

If you lost your job as a result of the pandemic, or you’ve had time to think, and you’ve realized that you have different career aspirations, now could be an ideal time to change direction. 

Signs that You Should Consider a Change of Career

Before the pandemic, it was all too common to hear people talking about how they never have enough hours in the day to tick off to-do lists, enjoy spending time with loved ones, and relax.

The global lockdown has afforded many of us time to reflect, to slow down, and to really think about what we want to get out of life. If you’re considering a change of career, here are some signs that taking a new path may be the right choice:

You Don’t Enjoy What You Do

We all have days when we’d rather turn our alarms off and spend the day in bed or in front of the TV, but if you dread going to work, or your job gives you no satisfaction, it’s essential to make changes. The average person spends around 36 hours per week at work.

This is a huge amount of time to be doing something that doesn’t make you happy. If you watch the clock, or you find work dull or drab, it’s a good idea to explore other options and to think about what you’d rather be doing. 

You’re Not Being Challenged

Most of us enjoy the odd quiet day at the office from time to time, but doing the same thing over and over again or feeling like you’re not being pushed, stimulated or challenged can soon take its toll. Most employees accept jobs with aspirations to climb the ladder and progress.

If you’re still at the same level you were at years ago, you’re earning the same, or there are limited opportunities available to move up the ranks, there’s no harm in looking around for better jobs

You Want to Make a Difference

Now more than ever, it has become apparent that some people in this world make a real difference to those around them. We have all seen news headlines and images in the press of nurses and doctors working 12-hour shifts, putting their own lives on the line to save others, and there is no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis has stirred emotional responses in most of us. I

f you feel like you want to make a difference, and your current job doesn’t allow you to make your mark, you may be thinking about pursuing a different career path. You might not have the right qualifications or the finances available to study to be a doctor. Still, some options might appeal to you, for example, nursing or working for a charitable organization if you are thinking about taking the plunge, research online to find courses that will suit you.

You can look for top schools that offer LPN programs if nursing appeals, or consider studying while you work to secure qualifications to get a new job in the healthcare or charitable sectors. Job satisfaction can make a world of difference, especially if you feel like you’re plodding along in your current role. 

Your Job is Affecting Your Health and Wellbeing

In 2019, 94% of Americans reported feeling stressed at work. Stress affects people in different ways, and it’s not always negative, but in many cases, it can contribute to poor mental health. There is a big difference between stress related to a deadline or a sudden influx of work and prolonged periods of feeling like you’re swimming against the tide.

If you’re struggling to control stress, or you feel anxious about going to work, and it is affecting your mood, your health, and your ability to switch off or sleep, it’s essential to take action. Severe stress can increase the risk of mental health disorders. If you have no time to unwind, you’re thinking about work when you get home, you’re continuously tired, or you have concerns about your physical or psychological health, it may be time to think about changing your job.

Your health should always be a priority. 

You Have a Dream Job in Mind

Many of us grow up with a dream job in mind, but often, it’s not as easy as applying for the perfect role and getting it. For most people, it takes time to get to where they want to be, and there are usually several hurdles to overcome. If you have career aspirations, and you’re desperate to try and land your dream job, try and be proactive.

Don’t assume that you can’t get to where you want to be or sacrifice your ambitions because you’ve got a job that pays the bills. It is possible to combine studying and working thanks to online courses, and you can gain experience and apply for jobs while you still have a job to prevent you from losing your income. Find out what you need to do to maximize your chances of getting the job you want and start taking steps in the right direction.

Time flies, and you don’t want to look back in ten or twenty years and wish you’d made more effort to make that dream come true. 

Tips for Changing Career Path

It can be daunting to think about changing careers or finding a new job, especially at a time when businesses are struggling, and unemployment rates are higher than usual. If you are considering a change of direction, here are some tips to help you:

Studying and Training

If you don’t currently have the expertise or the qualifications required to get the job you’re looking for, it’s well worth finding out more about the skills you need. With many colleges and universities offering online courses, and access to training opportunities improving all the time, it may be possible for you to undertake further study or arrange on-the-job training.

Online study is incredibly beneficial for those in employment, as it enables you to learn and earn at the same time. Depending on the course you choose, you may be able to study without giving up your job, so that you continue to bring money in. 

Identifying Opportunities

In some cases, it may not be possible to secure your dream job. If you’ve always wanted to be a doctor or a veterinarian, for example, but you didn’t get the grades at school, you may not be able to pursue that avenue, but there are alternatives you could consider. You don’t have to give up on your ambitions to help others or to work with animals, for example. Look for opportunities that are linked to your aspirations.

You could volunteer, you could train as a healthcare assistant or a carer if you want to work in the healthcare sector, or you could start working at a shelter if you love animals. Look out for vacancies online, sign up for recruitment agencies, and get in touch with local businesses, organizations, and nonprofits. 

Reviewing Your Resume

If you’ve been working for a long time and you haven’t applied for a job in years, there’s a good chance that your resume will be out of date. Before you join recruitment agencies or subscribe to job sites, review your resume, update the information, and put yourself in an employer’s shoes.

Do you look good on paper, or do you need to make changes?

If competition is fierce, employers will rule candidates out before they even get a chance to impress in person at an interview, so it’s vital to make a good impression on paper. Your resume should highlight your skills, qualifications, and experience and sell you in the best possible light. Tailor your application to each role and be succinct. 

Preparing for Interviews

If you are invited for an interview, this is your chance to blow the panel away and ensure you stand out from the crowd. Prepare in advance, read emails carefully, and make sure you know exactly what is required of you. If you’re doing a presentation, for example, read the questions carefully, make sure you’ve answered each one, and practice, practice, practice.

Read aloud in front of a friend or your partner and ask them to provide feedback. Try and preempt questions your interviewer may ask, and do some research about the company beforehand. Be polite, turn up on time, make sure you look smart and maintain eye contact when you’re talking. 

The Bottom Line

Are you at a career crossroads? If so, now could be the perfect time to change direction. If you don’t enjoy your job, work is affecting your health, you have aspirations to do something different, or you want to make a difference, now is the time to start taking steps towards finding a job that will make you happier and healthier. 

This post originally appeared on Your Money Geek.