We have all been there.  We have made bad career decisions.  If you haven’t yet, you will at some point in your life.  I can guarantee this.  I see it and hear it from candidates daily.

At the time, we felt like we were making the right decision, but realized quickly we were doing something horribly wrong for our careers.  Once we have made the wrong move, we find ourselves trying desperately to get on the right path again.  For some reason finding the right path takes us on many other paths. Sometimes we never find the path that leads to a career that makes us happy.

It sucks.  Making a move in your career is tough.  The way I see it though, it is all a learning experience.  The older you get, the more you learn from your mistakes and the less likely you are to make them again.  At 43, I must say I finally am doing what I love and what I am good at doing.  It has taken that long for me though.  My life has been like Dr. Seuss’s book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”.  For many of you, I guarantee your careers have been the same.

Some people have been with the same company for years and feel like your job is just getting a little “stale”.  For others, you are still desperately trying to find the right “fit” for you personally and professionally.  In this economy it is tempting to make a change.  When the economy sucks, staying put in your career with your company sounds pretty darn good.  A paycheck sounds great with people losing their jobs daily.DrSeuss

Let’s say for a minute that in the past couple of years you have taken a risk.  You jumped ship from your current employer and things aren’t going great.  You hate your job, the people you work with and the things you do on a day to day basis.  Here are 7 things you can do to get your career back on track and avoid having a career tailspin.

  1. Call your former employer.  Sometimes it is as simple as that.  You made a bad decision.  Some of the best employees for organizations are “boomerang” employees who realize that the grass wasn’t greener on the other side and come back with a renewed attitude.
  2. Write down what you didn’t enjoy and don’t do it again. Simple enough.  Learn from your mistakes.  If you take another job that has you doing something you didn’t enjoy doing, then shame on you.  You could spend a lifetime going down the wrong path.
  3. Write down what you did enjoy. Yep, as much as there are things you didn’t like about your job change, I can promise you that there were some things you did enjoy about the position.  Make sure that your next job has some of the things.
  4. Realize you may have to take a step back and that is okay. If you took a job in a different field, then decided to switch back, your skills may be outdated.  You may need to brush up on your skills or take a lower position than the one your previously held depending on the duration of your hiatus. This could especially happen in the technical world we live in today.  You may have to take a step back to get two steps forward.
  5. Explore something completely different  This could be dangerous, but it also could be exactly what you need to do.  If your past employer wasn’t the right job and neither was your current employer, then look at doing something completely different.  You may find yourself even further from your goals and aspirations, but then again, it may be exactly what the doctor ordered.  You might have been pursuing a career that wasn’t the best fit for you after all.
  6. Realize the next job may not be your dream job. Remember it takes a while to get to where you want to go.  I wanted to be an independent recruiter for years.  I knew my limitations.  I knew when the time was right to make the move to be an agency recruiter. I had a series of jobs before I became a business owner.
  7. Expect mistakes to be made again. I wish I had a crystal ball.  None of us have the crystal ball.  Make a well informed decision and go for it.  Being paralyzed in a job that you hate is the worst feeling in the world.

In conclusion, the career journey is what every human goes through.  You are not alone.  Take a big breath and evaluate your current situation and do something about it if you are unhappy.  You are not stuck.  You can make a change.