You Need a New Challenge. Here’s How to Make the Jump

Boredom would seem to be an immutable fact of the human condition. We’re a tough bunch to please, or at least to keep pleased for very long.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the workplace. Despite well-intentioned (and sometimes off-the-wall) attempts by HR professionals to liven things up around the ol’ office, burnout and tune-out are all too common.

If you’re done in all but name with your current employer, or simply aren’t feeling challenged in your role any longer, you have no shortage of options at your disposal. You can ask (subtly) for a promotion. You can volunteer to take on additional projects or responsibilities (with or without a new title). You can look for freelance side gigs that don’t conflict with your current role.

Or you can cut ties completely and strike out on your own in search of the next adventure. Whether you land in a position of greater responsibility at a dynamic new employer or follow in the footsteps of seasoned executives tackling new challenges and launch your own enterprise, you’ll regain some measure of control over your professional life and probably improve your mental health to boot.

Not sure how to get started? Here’s what you need to do, and when.

Update Your Resume

Get the boring stuff out of the way.

If you haven’t looked over your resume in a while, now’s the time. Bring it up to date, adding new competencies and credentials, recent positions, notable achievements, and extracurriculars. Don’t be afraid to tap a consultant for assistance — they’ve been around the block more times than you have.

Burnish Your LinkedIn Profile

Ah, yes: your “second resume.” LinkedIn is a crucial tool for job-seekers and budding entrepreneurs; the cruel irony is that it’s very often seen as superfluous by comfortably employed folks. Make sure your LinkedIn is up to snuff well before you announce your intention to quit.

Create a Separate Personal or Professional Website

If you don’t yet have a personal or professional website that stands apart from your LinkedIn profile and corporate team profile, create one. (Or hire someone to spin one up for you.) You don’t need anything fancy — basically, you’re going for an extended CV that succinctly outlines your experience and value to prospective employers or partners.

A blog, though optional, is a great way to highlight your expertise and burnish your thought leadership credentials — though you should already be doing this via LinkedIn updates and published posts. If you’re a creative, include links or clips of published or live work products.

Bone Up on Interviewing (and Start Practicing)

When was the last time you sat for a job interview?

For inexperienced job-seekers, the prospect is downright terrifying. Take some time to review the basics of preparing for a job interview, and begin practicing mock interviews with a willing partner (spouse or dedicated friend works best) well in advance of your first engagement. Once you know where you’ll be interviewing, spend time researching the company — you can’t be too prepared.

Hang Out a Consulting Shingle

Unless you have a non-compete agreement that prevents you from soliciting work outside your professional lane, take whatever steps are necessary to re-enter the freelance job market before formally quitting your current gig. You don’t have to give over your evenings or weekends entirely to freelance work, but the mere act of making yourself available is a boon to your visibility and reputation.

Who knows? You might find that you enjoy the freedom of independent consulting so much that you set that 9-to-5 job search on the back burner.

Prepare for Your Exit Interview

Most employers subject exiting employees to exit interviews. This is a valuable opportunity — your last, at least in a formal setting — to help your soon-to-be-ex-employer understand why you left and what can be done to prevent your colleagues from making the same move. (Assuming you want to keep them on the job, of course.) Be frank and candid, but don’t spill everything — for instance, you’re not obligated to say exactly why you left, unless you’re contractually bound to do so.

Be Available to Help With the Transition

If you’re leaving on good terms, be prepared to provide reasonable assistance during your transition out of your current role. This might include interviewing replacements, assisting with onboarding, and complying with housekeeping requests such as returning work-related files or devices. It’s no one’s idea of a good time, but you don’t want to burn any bridges on the way out either.

Mind the Gap, But Don’t Fear It

Don’t feel like you have to land in your new role — whatever it is — immediately after you walk out your current employer’s door for the final time. Just as the “gap year” following high school or college graduation represents a once- (or twice-) in-a-lifetime opportunity to pursue an interest or endeavor for which you might never have time again, a gap between formal gigs — assuming you have the savings — has the potential to open personal and professional doors.

Use it to get a new professional credential, take meetings with colleagues and peers you’ve heard about but never met, tackle a long-delayed professional development goal, or work on the book you’ve always wanted to write.

Or just take a nice, long vacation. You deserve it.

Look Before You Leap

As they say in the movie stunt business, don’t forget to look before you leap.

The consequences of making an ill-advised career move aren’t quite as dire, perhaps, but such a move will still set you back. The fact that making the leap itself is the right choice for your career doesn’t mean any leap will do.

Changing employers requires lots of careful planning, beginning months in advance of your actual exit. Launching a solo practice or new business demands even more thought and advance work.

There’s no shame in taking it slow and thinking it through. Better to do it right in due course than to rush into a situation for which you’re not entirely prepared.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top