How to change your career when you realize it's time
Let's face it: not every first, or second, or fifth job is the perfect position that a person has dreamed about since they were eighteen. The truth is that part of what makes a career successful is one's ability to change. That might mean changing jobs a dozen times or even changing career fields. These choices to start over are not failures; they are steps in pursuit of success—they show intelligence, courage and drive.
You are a person containing dreams and fears, ambitions and anxieties. You might have answered every "when-you-grow-up" question since you were eight with "elementary school teacher" but, when you finally earned that position, the school's principal turned out to be unorganized and the other teachers were unfriendly. Even a seemingly perfect position might land you in a negative workplace. There are so many reasons you might want or need to change jobs. The first step is realizing that you do want to change and that this change will be a positive step in your successful career.
Recognizing that it's time
This first step is tricky because everybody moans, jokingly or not, about Mondays and working late and unreasonable bosses. It's when you realize that you dread Mondays—that you have trouble even enjoying Sundays because Mondays come next—that a change is necessary. Some signs that this is the case:
- You're as stressed about going to the job as you are about doing the work it involves.
- You feel stuck without hope of advancing.
- You don't feel comfortable with coworkers and weekly meetings are demoralizing.
- The quality or timeliness of your work suffers because of anxiety or disinterest.
- You feel that you deserve a better salary for your level of experience.
- Evaluation of your work is irregular or nonexistent, leading to constant fear that you aren't succeeding.
These signs indicate that the job is simply not right for you. It is not your fault. But it is your responsibility to admit this and take action to rectify the situation.
Leaving a job
Changing jobs might, at first, seem like adding work and stress to an already draining situation. It is undoubtedly work but it's work that will move you away from a negative position and closer to your perfect job. If you are leaving a good employer because you want to advance, it will be easy to remain polite and respectful during your exit. However, if you are leaving a particularly bad position, it is equally important to act professionally. You cannot throw away work relationships or a potential employer reference by ranting on social media or sprinkling your letter of resignation with shade.
To a boss you liked working for, consider offering help during the transition process. Give two weeks' notice and write a polite, gracious resignation letter. Make the best of a possible exit interview by focusing on what you learned and liked. If you've had a good relationship with your employer, you can even ask for a letter of recommendation.
Leaving a job you hated is trickier, emotionally. Start with yourself: remind yourself that leaving this job respectfully is part of the road to your dream position. Realize that you're intimidated by a job search and unhappy in general because of the job you are leaving and that things will become better when you've moved on. Do not surrender to anger or impatience: even the worst employer could be a reference in the future. Ignoring your pride and frustration is important in moving to your next position quickly.
If you have to, write out your rage on a loose-leaf paper and tear it up into the trash. Then, calmly, carefully write your respectful resignation letter. You can find the positives: was there one coworker with whom you connected? Did you learn anything from the job? (You did, like it or not.) Finally, do not post to social media unless you are prepared to praise the job you've despised and thank its employees and administration.
Post-job job searching
In most cases, it's a good idea to start your job search before you've fully resigned. While it should be kept private, searching before you've left allows you to talk to potential employers about your decision to look for advancement rather than explain why you suddenly left a position without preparing your next step.
If you're changing careers or fields, consider taking free or paid online courses to build skills and boost your resume. Some offer certificates and others will show up on your LinkedIn profile. All of them will make you more confident in your change and in the interviews that come with it.
The most important key to a strong job search is reminding yourself of the reasons that made you start it. You suffered long enough in a bad position or you've been ready for months for advancement after a stagnant job: either way, you're moving closer to your dream position. Aim carefully for it. Start your search with that dream burning brightly in your mind. You deserve that job and, now, you're closer to it than you've ever been. It took courage to admit that you weren't satisfied. With that same courage, push for the best for your life and career and find your perfect fit.
Tom Twardzik is a writer covering personal finance, productivity and investing for Paypath. He also contributes pop culture pieces to Popdust, travel writing to The Journiest and essays to The Liberty Project. Read more on his website and follow him on Twitter.
Looking for a job? In addition to encountering those annoying never-ending job interviews you may find yourself face-to-face with an artificial intelligence bot.
Companies worldwide increasingly use artificial intelligence tools and analytics in employment decision-making – from parsing through resumes and screening candidates to automated assessments and digital interviews. But recent studies claim that AI does more harm than good.
While AI screening tools were developed to save companies time and money, they’ve been criticized for placing women and people of color at a disadvantage. The problem is that many companies lack appreciable diversity in their data set, making it impossible for an algorithm to know how people from underrepresented groups have performed in the past. As a result, the algorithm will be biased toward the data available and compare future candidates to that archetype.
The City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools (AEDT) law is designed to offset the potential misuse of AI and protect job candidates against discrimination. It was enforced on July 5th, 2023 in New York City - with other cities and states expected to gradually follow suit. Employers must now inform applicants when and how they encounter AI. Furthermore, companies have to commission a third-party audit of the AI software used, and publish a summary of the results to prove that their systems aren’t racist or sexist. Job applicants are able to request information regarding what data is collected and analyzed by the AI. Violations of the law can result in fines of up to $1,500.
Replacing Human Hiring Decisions
However, should a job applicant want to opt-out of such impersonal judgement by a bot, the new law's scope is quite limited.
While the law specifies that instructions for requesting an alternative selection process must be included in the AI screening disclosure, companies aren't actually required to use other screening methods. Not to mention that the law only applies to AI in hiring and not any other employment decisions. It also wouldn't apply if the AI, for example, flags candidates with relevant experience, but a human then reviews all applications, making the ultimate hiring decision.
Some civil rights advocates and public interest groups argue that the law isn’t extensive enough and that it’s even unenforceable. On the other hand, businesses say that it’s impractical, costly, and burdensome, and that independent audits aren’t feasible.
Responsible use of AI in hiring
Although this law may be a good first attempt to assign more regulatory guardrails around AI, it remains to be seen if it ensures the responsible use of AI in hiring processes. At the end of the day, perhaps recruiting talent should remain a human-made decision.
The good news is that AI can help companies without harming potential job candidates in many ways – such as connecting new employees with internal organizational information and company benefits during onboarding. Or helping employees to do their jobs more effectively rather than replacing them.
There’s all this talk about solo travel. And for good reason — no wasting precious time waiting for others to get their act together, take the plans out of the group chat and actually buy the tickets. Going solo, you can be spontaneous. You can plan your trips according to your precise tastes. You can hop on any flight and fly awayyyyyy.
But what if each time you flew you’d get a free ticket? That’s what you get with the Southwest Companion Pass.
Award status, upgrades, lounge access — there are many perks in the frequent flier game. But one of the coveted holy grails is the Southwest Companion Pass.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass is part of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. You get to choose one person to be your “companion,” and they fly with you for free (plus some taxes and fees) on every flight. That’s right. Two for the price of one. That’s half off each ticket if you split it! Whether you’re flying with a partner, family member, friend, or anyone else, they can tag along for free.
And it gets better: once you earn the pass, you can reap the rewards for that full calendar year … AND the next. That’s why people go mad trying to earn a companion pass during the early months of the year. The sooner you qualify, the longer you can use it.
There are also no blackout dates. There are no limits. And if you didn’t purchase the ticket (think: work travel, your companion, or a generous benefactor), there are no restrictions! As long as you’re the one on the plane, your companion can also … be on the plane.
You can also switch out your designated companion 3x a year. So, no need to stay in a relationship simply to get the most out of your companion pass! Ghost and fly away — with a whole new companion!
If this sounds too good to be true — it’s not. But there is one small catch. It’s kinda tough to earn this mega reward.
How to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?
You can qualify for the pass in one of two ways:
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
- Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.
Clearly, this is no small feat — especially if you’re trying to qualify ASAP.
So how do you actually earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
Don’t worry, there’s a path to earning this amazing reward without climbing on 100 flights or spending an exorbitant amount of money.
Earning 135K reward points may seem completely impossible, but it’s easier than it sounds. Simply sign up for a Southwest Credit Card and turn those spending habits into a rapid rewards account. Through the Rewards Priority Credit Card, earn points when using local transit and commuting, plus score major points and miles whenever you spend.
Stay with me here. This is not some scheme to get you into credit card debt. Many airline cards come with potential savings, giantic rewards, awarding you points, and cashback with every purchase you make that can be redeemed for travel. And often they can come with passive sign-up bonuses. If you spend a specific amount of money within a certain timeframe of opening the card, you can be in for a windfall of points.
Now that’s where the companion pass comes in:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest has three personal cards and a business card. Each of these cards offers rewards between 30K-80K points. In the past, people could open two cards and get a bonus that granted enough points to almost meet the minimum. However, with new restrictions on personal cards, you can only get one bonus every 24 months. Boo!
However, this doesn’t apply to business cards. If you’re eligible, have good credit, and not likely to spiral into insane credit card debt, you can open a business card and a personal card, and accrue 100K+ points. The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card will get you points after you spend money in no time.
Now to earn the rest of them.
The secret to gaining these credit card points is to plan your card sign-ups around big purchases. Just before a recent move, I opened a card . . . and the rewards came rolling in — a small balm to ease the pain of how exorbitant moving can be.
Put everyday spend — especially big purchases or bulk items — on your Southwest credit card and watch your award points quickly add up. Typically, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on your Southwest card and 2 points per $1 on actual Southwest purchases.
But there are other ways to earn points, including:
- Flying Southwest: Booking travel on Southwest earns more points. The cost of this travel will be worth it with your companion pass
- Shopping from Rapid Rewards Partners: Purchases with Southwest’s “Home & Lifestyle” and “Shop and Dine” Partners also earn Companion Pass qualifying points. While you shouldn’t make gratuitous purchases, browse Southwest’s partners to see if you could earn extra points for items you'd be purchasing anyway. All this, simply from enrolling in their Dining Program and shopping with their partners.
So there you have it! And since it’s almost Spring, get to earning and soon you’ll be flying two for the price of one!