Changing careers? Don’t let your miserable job stop you from getting an awesome one.

Twice this week, aspiring UX designers told me how frustrated they are in their current jobs and how badly they want to change careers as soon as they can.

I completely understand that feeling... you don’t actually have a deadline, but that feeling of dread you get when you wake up to go to work at that job you hate certainly feels like one. It’s like you’re racing against some kind of clock that measures misery instead of time, and you’re the only one keeping track.

 
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The problem with that situation is that it makes you do things that impact you in the short term — you apply for all kinds of jobs and scramble to make a project that might look good enough but you aren’t totally sure. Those kinds of tasks give you a sense of accomplishment in the moment — they make you feel like you’re moving forward and there is hope because you did something to try to get out of your current situation. And that’s great!

But my advice? Play the long game.

You see that job doing exactly what you want to do with the amazing benefits with the company that has the good values and beer fridges and company foosball tournaments and annual trips to Cabo and money donated to your charity of choice?

Don’t. Apply. For. It. Until. You’re. Ready.

By the time you’re ready, there will be jobs. Probably even better jobs! But if you start applying to everything you see when you aren’t there yet, you could make negative impressions on hiring managers that might hire you later on, plus discourage yourself if you don’t get interviewed. Use the time that you could spend applying to jobs to work on your portfolio, network, perfect your LinkedIn profile, read an article, or learn a new skill.

But Meghan, you ask, how do I know when I’m ready?

You’re not going to want to hear this. It depends.

I suggest talking to multiple people in your desired field and asking for feedback. Ask for HONEST feedback. Ask them what else you can do to impress hiring managers. Ask career changers when they felt ready. Don’t rely on the advice of just one person, either. That’s how I ended up sobbing into my free t-shirt in the corner at Google I/O 2016.

There is no fast track or secret to changing careers. It takes good old-fashioned time and effort. Time may be something you don’t think you have (or maybe just don’t want to think you have because you want OUT), so try to compensate with effort. Use that miserable damn job to motivate you!

You got this, you beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful muskox. So go get ’em. Just take it one day at a time.

 

Meghan Kelly