I know how overwhelming it can be to go through a career change. It’s never easy to be the new kid—it is somewhat like being the new character on a show that has been running for 7 seasons. I’m very familiar with feeling insecure after a career switch.
When I made a career switch, I almost drowned in a sea of insecurity. Every interaction felt like a judgment and I constantly felt underqualified. On that first day, everything felt alien, like there was no way I would ever fit in.
Boy was I wrong! It always feels like you’re completely off your game, but the truth is, everyone goes through the same experience on the first day. We attend classes and take exams but it never prepares us for what the actual working experience is like.
It is even more overwhelming when you switch over from a different career! You have all this work experience and a general idea of how things work. Now you’ve got to unlearn everything and start from scratch again.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! I switched careers after 6 years in the same industry, so I’ve picked up a few things along the way. Here’s what you need to do to handle your career change efficiently:
It is very important to be self-aware while dealing with change of any kind. Take a look at yourself and be honest about your abilities and weaknesses. Once you have an accurate idea of what you are capable of, you will feel much less anxious at work.
This will help you figure out the kind of work you are suitable for and what you don’t see yourself doing. There are a lot of ‘special skills’ we list on our resume, but the reality can be quite different.
You will feel much more confident once you become more self-aware. You can show initiative in areas you feel confident in and volunteer in projects that can use your skillset.
Contrary to popular opinion, getting acquainted with your weaknesses is a huge advantage. You now know what you need to work on!
Skip out on going out with your friends this week and spend the time and money you saved on a short course that will help advance your career. It can be something as simple as learning the ins and outs of Microsoft Office or as complicated as learning a coding language.
Fix Realistic Goals
This seems like a no-brainer, but surprisingly, very few people are able to do it. There’s nothing wrong with a goal like, ‘I want to be a manager within the next 4 years’, but without a concrete action plan, there is no point in setting a goal at all.
If you’re feeling insecure after career switch, you might not even think about setting a goal for yourself. It always feels like you need more time settling in before you can achieve any goals.
This kind of thinking is the biggest hindrance in growing at a new position. Taking small steps is much better than waiting around for things to change. It will feel a little uncomfortable, but you should definitely go for it.
Think of a small, achievable goal at your level and start working towards it. It may feel uncomfortable or awkward at first, but don’t give in to these feelings. Once you achieve that first goal, you will start feeling at home in your new role.
It doesn’t have to be anything huge. You can aim to make friends with your office mate by the end of the week, or finally get around to learning how to make a snappy PowerPoint presentation.
This is an important one. I would often find myself completely stressed out just applying for a new job. When I cleared my interview, I was too scared to accept the job offer because I was convinced that I wasn’t up to the task.
But it turned out that the role I was so scared to take on was well within my skill set. Well, duh! I wouldn’t have been hired if I wasn’t fit for the job. Nobody is that lucky.
Avoid overthinking and obsessing over things that haven’t happened. If you’ve been accepted for a position, you are obviously suitable for it.
If you are feeling insecure after your career switch, it is not because you are not capable of doing this job.
If you make a small mistake like not replying to an email, or your great idea was passed over in a meeting, don’t stress about it. If you can rectify your mistake, do that. Otherwise, just move on and focus on the other tasks at hand.
You don’t want to mess up because you were stressed about a mistake you made two days ago. Stress is a common factor in every workplace, you need to rise above it and don’t let it affect your work.
Dealing with Fear
A career switch comes with a lot of uncertainty. This makes us scared and we spend all day obsessing over hypothetical scenarios. It doesn’t have to be this way!
I was very scared to leave my comfortable job and extremely apprehensive of taking on a new job I felt I knew nothing about. But there is nothing I would change, because dealing with those fears made me a lot stronger.
Whenever you find yourself freaking out, start asking yourself questions. What will happen if you screw up your presentation tomorrow? Is there any way you can avoid that? What happens if you are a little late with your project? Is it a fireable offense?
When you start asking questions, you’ll realize that there is either nothing to worry about or something else you can do to prevent the thing you’re worried about.
Imposter syndrome is the most potent career killer these days. You constantly feel like you don’t deserve anything you have achieved and are a fraud posing as someone more accomplished.
If you’re already feeling insecure after career switch, imposter syndrome will wreak havoc on your mind. You won’t feel like doing anything at your new job because you are constantly scared that you’ll expose yourself to the fraud you are.
Dealing with imposter syndrome takes a lot of effort. You need to accept the role you’ve played in your success and acknowledge the value you add in a professional setting. Talking to a therapist or someone who has gone through the same thing can also help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Normal to Feel Insecure in a New Job?
It is extremely normal to feel insecure in a new job. Trust me, you’re not alone! The new atmosphere, new people and different challenges make it very easy to not feel at ease in a new job.
While it is totally normal to feel insecure at a new job, you should know the difference between first-day nerves and actual red flags. It is okay if you are a little anxious, but it is not normal that you dread showing up at work.
It is expected that it will take you some time to make friends, everyone might not warm up to you immediately but if people at your new workplace are unwilling to help you, it is definitely a red flag.
Just watch out for potential red flags, everything else will eventually go away as you get settled in your new job.
When Should You Give Up on a Career Change?
It takes a lot of courage and hard work to take the leap and make a career switch. So much so that we aren’t able to admit to ourselves when the change doesn’t seem to be working out.
There are many different factors and every situation is different, but it all boils down to this: are you happy enough that the salary doesn’t matter or does a high salary not make up for how unhappy you are?
In simple words, if the career switch doesn’t seem worth the time and effort you’ve put in, it is best to cut your losses and move on before you invest any more in this line of work.
Being constantly burned out and still feeling like you’re wasting your time are two big factors that indicate that your new job isn’t right for you. If this sounds like you, I suggest you reconsider the career switch.
Making a career switch is a very brave decision. It is only normal to feel insecure or anxious after taking such a big decision because the stakes are so high.
Dealing with these feelings is not easy. However, if you want to thrive in your new career and rise through the ranks, you need to overcome these feelings first.
Try to keep your self-confidence up and don’t be afraid of new challenges. It is way better to try something and make a mistake than not do anything at all. I wish you all the best with your new career, I’m sure you’ll do great!