10 Signs You Are In The Wrong Career

There are many reasons someone may find themselves in the wrong career. Maybe they came into the job market at a bad time and took the first thing they could get. Perhaps they chose the wrong major in college.

But whatever made you choose the career you’re currently in, one thing is for certain: you can always chart a new path.

Sometimes, however, it can be hard to know for sure that it is time to move on. When you want to know for sure, there are a few ways to tell.

Cultural Fit Definition

When a career or job isn’t working out the way you’d hoped, oftentimes the culprit may be cultural fit. What is culture fit? And how can you recognize when you just “don’t fit”?

Cultural fit is amount to which candidates for a position at a company might be expected to fit into your organization’s culture. Through cultural fit assessment questions and culture fit assessment tests, companies try to determine if a  candidate will align with company values, goals, working style, approach, expectations and more.

If you don’t, for example, work effectively under pressure, you may not fit in at a company with high-pressure management tactics.

Discovering not only what your strengths and weaknesses are but also what type of culture you work best in can be a great place to start for candidates looking to find a better culture fit.

Beyond Culture Fit: 10 Signs You’re In The Wrong Career

Over 30 professional years in corporate management has given me plenty of opportunities to view the “ugly underbelly” of corporate employees. I might add, I have seen some true masters working the finer points (the edge) and creative interpretations of companies’ policies and procedures. During my investigations, I was often amazed at the amount of energy some employees dedicated to finding ways to “stick it to the Man”. Energy I later figured out could have made these people millionaires, if they had devoted it to their right career.

After reviewing these, I’d love to hear from folks their other examples.

  1. When the first time you smile each day is a fake one to your first customer. – let’s face it, when it seems the only thing worth smiling about is when you are trying to sweet talk some money from another person, your life is pretty much “in the toilet”. And the view from there is like being the last dog in an Alaskan sled team.
  2. When your friends ask you for career advice and the only thing you can honestly tell them is to stay clear from the one your in. – sure, you may be accepting the old suggestion …”physician, heal thyself” – but in reality, you are in some deep stuff if all you can think about in a career is how bad you have it. On a positive note … at least you have some friends that need your advice.
  3. When commuting to your job, your mind is already busy planning your schedule for the moment you clock out.   I heard an old saw about not wishing your life away and Adam Sandler captured this concept brilliantly in his movie Click from a few years ago. But if you could ‘fast forward’ through all your challenges, wouldn’t you miss out on some great moments of victory over- coming them?
  4. When you wake up Monday wishing it were Friday, again. – Ditto previous item. If there really is nothing worth being conscious for, does it not make sense to do something else? Don’t you want to believe that people lying in a hospital bed in a coma can still sense the family member sitting by their side all day and all night? After all, what’s the point for the family member if they can’t believe their loved one knows they are there. What’s the point of collecting any money working in a coma?
  5. When you receive a “Needs Improvement” on your Performance Review – OK, this one stung me because I have to admit getting a couple of these along my 30 year career. After the first one, I was devastated when they finally let me go. The second one was like a woman going back to her abusive husband. Who was I trying to kid? I didn’t belong in that field if I really wasn’t putting out the effort to be good at it.
  6. When your employer decides to transfer you to another functional department to “see if things might improve”– again, like the previous item when companies have to put out extra effort to find something in which you will put out effort, everybody is doing the “hokey pokey”. Some companies are so paternalistic they will “pass the trash” to unsuspecting managers for the “sake of the poor employee”. Unfortunately, they are not doing anybody any favors, especially their customers.
  7. When you get on an elevator and somebody asks “how’s it going?” and you answer “It’s going.” – as if that makes any sense or maybe is worth a chuckle or two. In reality, it is really bogus and you are simply ruining somebody else’s day. Don’t be the one responsible for those people “turning” into “walkers” like you. Other people deserve better than you hoping to bring them down to your level. Misery loves company, no doubt, but that company never amounts to anything.
  8. When you find yourself fantasizing about a ‘Lost Time Injury’– Ok, you know you’re supposed to take somebody’s comments or supposed “jokes” about suicide really seriously and people no longer even think about suggesting they overheard something suspicious as they are preparing to board a flight (unless they really did, of course) so when you are looking for any way to get out of work, you really need to get some counseling. Make an appointment with your company’s EAP for a brief conversation.
  9. When you are more excited about the “hot dish” entree‘ in the cafeteria than any new client or business announcements – all right, since you at least have a job at a company or in an office building that provides cafeteria style food service, which seems to be going the way of the dodo bird for most employers, still, not having any interest in how your employer is doing or thinking about ways you could contribute more to your employer’s success is a clear sign you are in a position that has only a dead end.
  10. When you have calculated and have a running tally in your toolbox of the number of days you have to ‘survive’ to be ‘fully vested’ in your company’s retirement system– like #9 above, at least you are working for somebody who has held on to the belief that a retirement program is good for recruiting superior employees, just be forewarned that if you are not recognized as contributing in some way to the company’s ability to fund that program, you will be out on the street with only what they are obligated to give back to you upon your departure as a result of the next ‘downsizing’.

OK, this is my top 10 but I am sure there are many, many more indicators that somebody is in their wrong career beit because of their personality to their capabilities or anything in between.

What have you seen as indicators you or somebody is in their wrong career?


High School or College students might want to check out our new CareerChoiceGPS™ for Students career pathing assessment. It can statistically predict a few careers a young person is “hard wired” to be successful. While still in school, it’s the perfect tool to provide direction and context for choosing the right school, curriculum and other investments before wasting a penny.

If interested, contact us and ask for the CareerChoiceGPS career pathing assessment for students. You or a loved one will save thousands of dollars and hundreds of wasted hours “barking up the wrong tree”. 

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