Five Lame Excuses Keeping You from Making a Career Change

By Caroline Ceniza-Levine '93BC of the Columbia Career Coaches Network
This article originally appeared on

I recently posted on Forbes about five lame excuses keeping you from making a career change, and it was based on justifications I hear over and over again from people who say they aspire to do something new but don't follow through to make this happen. You probably know the popular excuses – I don't know where to start, I can't afford the pay cut, it's too late, I don't have enough time, it won't work out anyway – that doom people before they even try.

However, there are even more excuses that pop up. Here are five more excuses keeping you from making a career change. Are you guilty of any of these?

It's too soon to make a change

In my Forbes post, I wrote about wannabe career changers who fear it's too late to make a change. The flip side is that some people fear it's too soon! You fear you haven't given a gallant enough effort at that job you hate. You fear that you will be perceived as uncommitted. You fear that you don't have enough experience to build on.

Turn this fear on its head and be grateful that you quickly identified that you're unhappy. Rather than see this as lack of commitment, commit to your career change and do something you actually care about. Instead of lamenting that you don’t have enough experience, be glad that you didn't invest too much time and effort into a field you no longer want.

My family, friends and/or significant other won't let me

People who care may seem unsupportive because they are worried about your prospects—this isn't misguided as career change takes work. Loved ones may fear that changing your mind about a career could lead to changing your mind about them. Or maybe they're jealous that you're taking action on something they also considered, but never did.

Whatever the reason you aren't getting support from family, friends, partner, etc., it probably seems reasonable to them, and it probably isn’t for lack of caring about you. It's better for your career change anyway to be leaning on people in your new field—they know how things get done and can give you better advice. They are doing what you want to do and can give you inspiration. They are active in the field and can more realistically help you. Focus on your new network, not convincing your old one.

My resume won't let me

Like waiting for your family and friends to get on board, too many aspiring career changers hope their resume can be massaged or refined enough to support their new field. But a resume is a backward-looking document, so when you put all your experience on it and it sounds like your old career, which of course it will, you get discouraged, and you give up on your career change because your resume just isn't competitive enough for your new career.

Your resume is not what is keeping you from a career change. A resume is but one step in a job search, only one marketing tool of many. Your resume won't sell you properly for your future career because it's about what you did in the past. There are other more powerful steps to take than sending out a resume.

I don't want to go back to school

Just like you shouldn't assume you need to take a pay cut to change careers, don't assume you need to go back to school either. Graduate school, certifications, classes, and conferences are all useful for a career change but not prerequisites. Whether or not to go to grad school is separate from whether or not you want to change careers.

I have invested too much in my current career already

With people living longer, careers are invariably longer. You could spend decades in one career and still have decades to go. Those initial years are not wasted—you developed skills, gained experience, built a network, and hopefully had fun along the way. However, if the prospect of more years in your current career doesn't excite you, then look at what else you can do. You can always find ways to leverage what you already invested in your previous career in a new career. At the very least, your first career gives you some perspective on what you don't want going forward.

Between the Forbes post and this one, that's 10 lame excuses we covered that hopefully no longer prevent you from making a career change. Are there any more you are battling with? Or that you vanquished on your own? Let us know!


 Caroline Ceniza-Levine coaches executives and entrepreneurs and is a member of the Columbia Career Coaches   Network. She is a career columnist for and formerly wrote for,, CNBC, and   Portfolio. She is the author of three books: "Jump Ship: 10 Steps To Starting A New Career" (2015, Forbes), "Six  Steps To Job Search Success" (2011, Flat World Knowledge), and "How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times" (2010, Two Harbors Press). She teaches Professional Development and Negotiation courses at Columbia University and received a grant from the Jones New York Empowerment Fund for her work with the mid-career professional. A classically trained pianist at Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music, Ceniza-Levine stays active in the arts, performing stand-up comedy. Contact her here.

Learn more about the Columbia Career Coaches Network.

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