So You’ve Decided to Leave Your Job

So you’ve decided to leave your job – congratulations! Doing work you don’t like isn’t fun but it is a great way to clarify what you do like. Capitalizing on the experience, insights, and contacts developed over the last year can turn a boring job into a stepping stone to something better.

Consider the experience you’ve gained. You don’t want to sit in front of a computer all day, what else have you learned? Would you be happier in a more creative role? Are your days behind a desk are over? Do you like the corporate setting or should you explore community organizations? What do you miss from your education/past experiences? Inventory your likes, dislikes, and needs – what have you learned about the way you’d like to work and the kind of work you’d like to do?

Look at those around you, both in and out of the workplace. Who catches your interest (or envy)? What new roles have you been exposed to over the course of this year? Pull together themes that arise. Perhaps the roles that catch your attention all involve working creatively, or with the public, or perhaps they’re all in a particular industry.

Compare what you’ve learned about the kind of work you would like with the areas you find interesting. Talk to people in roles, companies or industries that interest you. Ask how they got there, what experience or education is needed, and what advice they have for someone looking to enter the field.

While some roles may require further training, it is entirely possible to enter a new field by developing related experience and capitalizing on the education you already have. Your computer science degree prepared you well for roles outside of the IT industry. Instead of focusing on your technical skills, emphasize transferable skills such as project management and analytical skills that will help you apply your education to other functions.

If you require specific experience, consider volunteering. If you require specific training consider part time courses, sometimes having relevant education in progress on your resume is enough to get you an interview.

Talk to existing contacts and develop new ones. Emphasize transferrable skills on your resume to help you move into new roles. Consider contract or entry-level positions to get your foot in the door. Most importantly, stay motivated. Small steps can help you make big changes.

Best of luck to you.

8 Responses to “So You’ve Decided to Leave Your Job”

  1. freddy7

    I agree with the idea of volunteering to get greater experience. This is something that I did in university (helping to edit an academic journal). This work – and the letter of reference that the professors in charge gave me – helped me build a track-record of competence in this field. It helped convince my employer to make editing and writing a part of my current role.

    If you are already in a job, volunteering on the weekends or in the evening with work that you can bring home is probably the way to go.

  2. jessecomber

    Working in a job that you don’t particularly enjoy can be a great way to help you to discover the things you do enjoy. I recently had the experience of working for a moving company while I was searching for a career related job. It certainly wasn’t the most rewarding job, but it has really made me appreciate the job that I am working in now as a market analyst for a manufacturer of steel pipe.

  3. jessecomber

    Fred’s comment also has a lot of merit to it as well. Volunteering for job experience is a tremendous way to build your resume. Like Fred, I worked at an unpaid internship at the United States Embassy in Ottawa, ON. This was by far some of the most relevant work experience that I was able to gain during my time in university. It was rewarding and still impresses employers when they look at my resume today.

  4. VeroS

    I also agree on doing some volunteer work. I have done alot of volunteer work in Sudbury (for example, music, visual arts, Franco-ontarian literature) and in Ottawa (for example, Epilepsy Ottawa and Franco-ontarian literature) for many years.

    I find that volunteering allows you to work on your social skills, but it also allows you to discover new things that interest you, to meet other people and to establish some connections (for example, for a job in your domain).

    Going back to school would also be a good idea.

    I have graduated from Laurentian University in french studies in 2008. Even before graduating, I started to work in a Franco-ontarian publishing house. However, I realised that eventhough I loved working with other people and that I loved reading and writing and learning on different french authors in Canada, that I haven’t pushed those passions very far in my life.

    So, I decided to go back to school in Ottawa. I am now in my 2nd year of M.A. in lettres françaises at Ottawa University. I have learned so many things about literature, writing, reading, but I also learnt alot on myself and on what I really wanted to do as a career: teach, write, do some research and/or be my “own boss”.

  5. mereb

    Another advantage to volunteering is that it is incredibly beneficial if you decide to pursue further studies.
    I’ve volunteered throughout my undergrad degree in various social service areas. It really helped me get a feel for what my interests were, and what they weren’t. Not only did volunteering help me define what it was I wanted to do, but it really helped my graduate applications!
    All that ‘exploring’ through volunteer positions really boosted my grad applications, and I am in my first year of my Master’s of Social Work.
    Volunteering lets you fill in that ‘gap’ in your experience. It also really lets you get a flavour for other professions, ones that you might never have considered, within the safety of your role as a ‘volunteer’.
    Plus, should the agency you are volunteering with decide to start hiring, you will be an ideal candidate!
    Also, I recommend that you explore learning opportunities while you are within your current job. For example, many of the government agencies offer “Learning Initiatives’, that are small courses that are usually free, that can give you a bit more knowledge in a certain area (e.g., ethics, editing, languages). I know this blog is a more about after you leave your job, but I just thought I’d mention it.
    The government also has various recruitment programs for grads, and I strongly recommend that people submit their applications if they have an interest in government work.

  6. Sam

    The only reason my resume looks impressive at all is because of my extra curricular activities. More than most of my job experiences through university, what I did in my spare time helped build my skills base and make connections that have come in handy. Since I don’t have bucket loads of work experiences, a lot of what I did for fun- running an arts publication and music nights- look pretty great on my resume. I have a feeling that these experiences have helped me get a foot in the door more than my work history!

  7. Jarek

    I agree with you guys. Volunteering is a great thing, especially if you are looking for a new job but you don’t have appropriate professional experience.
    Let me give you a personal example. Everybody knows how difficult is to enter in a school of medicine. I was born in China and once arrived in Canada I decided to become a doctor. In spite of my motivation, I failed twice my exams in a school of medicine!
    I decided then to do volunteer work in a hospital to acquire some professional experience. This fieldwork allowed me to understand a lot of things and I finally passed my exams to a prestigious school of medicine! So guys don’t hesitate to volunteer to get a good job later.

  8. Sean

    I find this article is as interesting as it is relevant. That being said, more times than not the person who is looking for a job is looking for that job because they need to put/keep a roof over their head and food on the table. This person isn’t necessarily thinking, hrmm…I need to take some time to think about the things I personally enjoy in life and whether or not I can be so lucky to happen to find something in this specific niche and geographic location that I’m living, especially in this economy where jobs are few and far between. The reason that these people aren’t considering what they feel would be ultimately rewarding based on their own individual characteristics is because their mortgage payment is due in 7 days and they don’t get paid for another 10 days. Oh, I almost forgot. These people need to make sure they have enough food to spread over the next week so that they have enough nourishment and energy to get to their current job.

    Too much reality? My apologies.

    In a perfect world I guess a person would be afforded the leisure to forgo financial/personal obligations in order to REALLY find what’s out there and whether or not it’s suited to their inner likes, dislikes etc., thus giving them gainful employment that they ‘just absolutely love’ and couldn’t be ‘more perfectly suited to them’. In actuality it’s been my experience that most, if not the majority don’t like work and the stuff they do really like is what they call their hobbies.


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