How to Survive a Wrong Career Choice

“Stuck in a wrong job?” or “did you take a wrong turn in your career?” are the kinds of ideas most job search websites build their promotional strategy upon. Similarly, career blogs and HR journals are also brimming over with write-ups on the same theme.

This is actually a very effective tactic which appeals to hundreds of employees who think that they might have made a false move in picking out current career. Convinced by this idea, more and more professionals become restless in their respective jobs, leading to a counter-productive working condition which becomes harmful for them.

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So for the people engrossed in a career dilemma, the following write-up will explore different aspects of a so-called ‘wrong career choice’ and if it is really that wrong for your overall professional life.

Did you really make a wrong turn?

Before getting into the debate about the said topic, you first need to be sure if you actually made a wrong turn in your career.

A professional career is a complex amalgamation of a number of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors, and there is a whole bunch of things to be considered before quitting your job, or getting uneasy in your career chair.

makign wrong turn
IMAGE: Freepik

Sometimes, people are not properly guided as how to tap their full potential in their career, and so they end up thinking that they made the wrong choice. In other cases, people don’t try hard enough to fit in their job and in turn blame it on the career they chose.

I am not suggesting that there is no such a thing as a wrong career. People end up in wrong careers all the time, sometimes in even the worst.

  • Harrison Ford, Han Solo to fans of Star Wars, was initially a carpenter
  • Colonel Harland David Sanders worked in menial positions like as a steamboat pilot and insurance salesman for years before starting the Kentucky Fried Chicken food chain.
  • Julia Child, the top chef behind absolutely exotic French cuisine, worked as a spy for the US government
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The point however, is to fully understand your potential in your field, and before deciding that your current job is not giving out the expected results, you should give a thorough look at what ‘you’ are putting in.

Here are some solid ways to check if your career is actually making you want to jump ship.

The experience counts

There is no substitute for experience. It doesn’t matter which kind of experience you are getting or in which field, the things you’ll learn will always pay off. If you think that your wrong career choice will not look good on your CV, especially when you plan to apply in a totally different field, then you should feel good about being wrong.

You can make your wrong career look good for you by building upon the diversity of your experience. A diverse experience improves your ability to deal with unknown challenges and helps you to come up with solutions which may be known in one industry but not the other.

Another way your experience will empower you, is through making you aware of your professional deal-breakers.

experience counts
IMAGE: Freepik

You will know exactly the kind of questions to ask from your potential employer in the next job interview, so you can avoid another wrong turn.

Lastly, no matter how ill-fitting your career is for you, you’ll be able to learn certain skills and abilities that are relevant and helpful across all walks of life. Such are called transferable skills and may include things like; time management, effective communication and the spirit of teamwork etc.

A similar topic on acing the job interview by using your failed startup can give you some inspiration.

Take the best out of the worst

It is one of my personal habits: once I make a decision, no matter how crooked it turns out, I try to make the best of it. Here I would like to suggest something similar to the people who are stuck with a wrong career choice.

Think about the positives about your job, no matter how trivial they are, and try to enjoy them to the fullest.

For instance, maybe the job you opted for is not fit for you but you’ve made some good friends among the colleagues, or perhaps your organization covers your family’s medical expenses. I would say even a free lunch facility can give you some reason to feel good about your choice.

Remember that good things come in small packages and as soon as you’ll learn to see these small packets of happiness lying all around, you’ll start to feel more positive and content.

It’s just a job

If you are ever stuck in a wrong career, don’t take it as an end-of-the-days scenario. I fully understand that once you realize the faults in your career choice, getting uneasy about it and seeing it as a downward trend in your career graph becomes inevitable.

However, in almost every person’s average professional life, one hops a number of jobs to reach the best one.

This idea has been supported by the Career Chaos Theory which says that, due to the unpredictable circumstances, for many people the career path is not linear because it is often influenced by certain unforeseen external factors.

Take your wrong career choice as a source to learn about your right career, and know that one job will not define your entire career.

Meanwhile, find the right job

After floating all the aforementioned arguments, my last piece of advice will be to look for the right career.

finding right job
IMAGE: Freepik

Once you are completely sure that the work you are doing is not meant for you, use all the time you can manage to first decide which career you want to go for, and then start searching ways to get into it.

You can use the time in your wrong job to prepare yourself for the right one, especially if your desired career is totally different than the current one. You can take online tutorials or join an evening school to get yourself acquainted with the field.

Networking with people from your potential career can also help, both in knowing about the job openings and the field itself.

At the end, it is important to remind yourself that by saying yes to a career that is not suitable for you, you have not committed professional suicide. A wrong career is after all a choice, and with every choice comes an opportunity.

You can continue to create opportunities for yourself by capitalizing on your decisions and making the best out of them.

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