Every year, millions of people look to change jobs. It’s not always easy to find a new job and for some, the idea of changing jobs does not sit well. The average American worker has 12 jobs throughout their lifetime.
A job change can be scary for many reasons. The fear of the unknown, the idea that you might fail, or that you might not like the new job as much as your old one are just some of them. But there are also many benefits to changing jobs – better pay, more opportunities for growth and development, and a sense of accomplishment when you finally land your dream job.
Why Changing Jobs Is Scary
The fear of changing jobs is a common fear among people. It is a difficult decision to make and there are many reasons for this. The following are some of the most common ones:
- Fear of not being able to find a job that pays as well as your current job does
- Fear of not being able to find a job that you enjoy doing
- Fear of having to start at the bottom again
- Fear of not being able to perform in your new position as well as you did in your old one
- Fear of having to start from scratch with getting new clients and building up your network again
- Fear that you will be unhappy with your new career
Although, for many, the scariest part of changing jobs is when you feel like you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.
The Fear of Changing Jobs
The fear of change is a natural reaction to the unknown. It is difficult to know what lies ahead and it can be scary to take that leap of faith. But, if you are looking for a new job or career, it is important to overcome this fear.
The first step in overcoming your fear of changing jobs is understanding what you are afraid of. Is it the unknown? The difficulty? The uncertainty? Once you know what you are afraid of, you can start taking steps towards overcoming that fear by researching to understand more. The more knowledge we have the more confident we will be.
Let’s take a look at some examples of things people might have a fear of in changing a job and how we can look to learn more and ease our minds.
Fear of the unknown
Applying for job types we haven’t done before or going into an industry that we know little about is enough to make us feel apprehensive.
Take time to research the company and industry. We discuss this topic in greater detail in our articles 13 Top Job Interview Tips and The Ultimate Guide on How to Prepare For a Job Interview.
Try to understand what it is like to work at the business, the environment you will be in, what skills you need to succeed in the job, what past and present employees say about working there and what the business culture there is like.
We will only be able to find so much information online but it could be enough to ease our minds going into a job interview situation where we can ask additional questions to help improve our understanding.
The difficulty of any job is subjective depending on who you ask. Someone who has done the same job for 20+ years will find the job easy, whereas someone who might be interested in that type of job but isn’t sure, could be trembling in fear at the idea of getting the job and failing.
Look to understand the skills and knowledge that go into jobs you are interested in applying for. This can be done through online research, reaching out to people you already know who work in a similar profession or contacting the companies before applying to learn more.
When stepping into a new job we are always want to impress and be reassured we are meeting the standards that are expected of us. Many companies build a probation period into your job contract to allow them to assess your suitability in your opening months. This can be a stressful time for new starters.
In our article Is Changing Jobs Stressful? we suggest that new starters take their time with tasks to ensure they are done properly and search for “quick wins” where possible to help build your confidence in the job and score some points with those who hired you.
Starting at the bottom again
Changing careers can be a daunting process and when entering a new profession or industry we may have to start at the bottom.
For some, this may be concerning because they feel it has set them back years in their career paths or it may have taken them years to progress in their past line of work and are fearful the same could happen again.
Whilst it might be true that you are starting lower down the corporate ladder than where you once sat, it doesn’t mean that it will take as long as previously to move back up the ladder.
With age comes experience and while you will have to learn the technical skills of the new job role, the softer skills that are looked for in senior personnel will still be with you and will assist in your progression once you have settled into your new field.
Concerns over happiness
It is difficult to guarantee our happiness when beginning a new job. There may be things that comfort us such as having worked in the same industry before or having a friend who works in the organisation, but there are still many things that can throw us off our game and affect our happiness in the workplace.
Things that might be different in your new job versus your old one include; working hours, company culture, friendliness of colleagues and general working conditions.
We can do our best to discover more about how the business operates during the job interview stage, but unfortunately, many things we simply cannot discover until we are doing the job.
Some things might initially feel bad because they are new and different to you. Give your job time and eventually, if things don’t improve for you, consider looking for employment elsewhere. Many people are fearful of leaving jobs after a short period of time because they do not want to be seen as unreliable and “job hoppers” but our advice is to put your happiness first and strive to find work you enjoy and are passionate about.
How to Overcome the Fear of Changing Jobs
Take your time
You should take your time during every stage of the process of changing jobs. Do not rush into things and take as long as you need to consider the following areas:
- Where would you like to work next?
- What type of job would you like to do instead?
- How do I achieve getting the job I want, do I need extra skills and experience?
- Research the companies before applying and interviewing with them
- Compose a respectful and well written resignation to your existing employer and leave on good terms
- Be patient in your new job role, make your brain like a sponge and absorb all the information you can. Take time with tasks to make sure they are done properly.
Face your fears
Avoiding fears only makes them scarier. Whatever your fear, if you face it, it should start to fade. The same can be said for putting off your decision to change jobs.
If you are truly happy in your existing job then your desire to change jobs might not be there and you feel no real need to move. However, if you are someone with a burning desire for progression or simply needs a better-paid job then do not delay beginning your job hunt.
Applying for better jobs now could reveal areas you need to improve in before acquiring these kinds of roles. It is better to learn this now and act upon it rather than learn it later.
Make rational decisions
One way to feel less scared, apprehensive and anxious about an upcoming job move is to think through our decisions thoroughly before going ahead with them.
Think about the following when considering a change in jobs:
- What would I like to achieve by changing jobs?
- What kind of job would I like next?
- What kind of company would I like to work for?
- How can I best prepare myself for a successful job hunt?
- How can I make a great first impression in my new job?
The more preparation and thought that we put into changing jobs can guide us down a clearer path into finding that work we are more likely to be happy with and make a success of.
Accept that nobody is perfect
When we are looking for jobs and even starting a new job we can sometimes put a lot of pressure on ourselves to succeed. However, we must remember that we all make mistakes at times and not everything will always go our way.
Take things like rejections from job interviews and mistakes made in the early stages of your new employment, as learning experiences and do not punish yourself over them.
From unsuccessful job interviews we can seek feedback to better understand where we can improve and what we need to do to secure the kinds of jobs we are looking for.
Making mistakes is a part of life, the important thing is that we learn from them and do our best to not make the same mistake twice.
Talk about it
Talking about your plans to move jobs or how your new job is going can be a good way to relieve us of concerns and give us confidence and guidance in what we are doing.
Talk with your family members or people you trust within your professional network to give you advice and direction on how to best approach your desire to change jobs and understand what it is you are exactly looking for out of your next role.
When you start a new role, be inquisitive and ask the questions you need to get the answers to best support you. Learning from existing colleagues experiences can be a great way to help you settle in and learn more about your new environment.
Most good employers will operate an onboarding process that allows you to learn much about the organisation at the beginning and look to support you during the beginning period with them. If you have questions to ask or want clarification that your work is done correctly, don’t be afraid to ask. It is better to seek feedback beforehand rather than pressing ahead and making mistakes that could have been avoided.
The process of changing jobs can be a rollercoaster ride full of ups and downs. Take the time to appreciate the successes you do have during this process and recognise what contributed to these successes.
Conclusion – Is changing jobs scary?
There are many reasons why we might be cautious and nervous about changing our jobs, but by taking the appropriate steps discussed above, we can go into the process more confident with a clearer idea of how we will achieve changing jobs, what we want to achieve by changing jobs and how we can help ourselves in making a success of our new role.
If you are considering changing roles in the near future, you might find the two articles below useful.