Are you thinking about changing jobs or career paths? You are not alone. Did you know that the average person will change careers 5-7 times within their working life? And 30% of the current workforce will change jobs every 12 months? Career change is quite common these days, and if you are reading this article, you may also be considering a change.

Embarking on a journey of career change can be both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. It’s a decision that carries not only personal implications but also a significant impact on your partner and the dynamics of your relationship. Job change anxiety is natural! Navigating this uncharted territory requires careful thought, open communication, and a shared commitment to each other’s dreams and aspirations.

Our practice has worked with many clients navigating a career change. We’ve put together best practices so you can nail the career change questions and conversations with your partner. You’ll learn how to approach your partner about your potential job or career change – from initiating the conversation to fostering understanding and support. Let’s explore how you can navigate these crucial discussions while nurturing the bond that holds your partnership together.

How to prepare for your career change conversation 

Preparing for a discussion with your partner about a career change is essential to ensure the conversation goes smoothly and you are on the same page. Here’s how you can effectively prep for this critical conversation:

  • Clarify your motivation: Before talking to your partner, understand your motivations for the career change. Are you seeking better job satisfaction, growth, work-life balance, or financial stability? Does the job change align with your values? Clarifying your reasons will help you articulate your thoughts to your partner.
  • Research and gather information: Collect information about the new career path you’re considering. Understand the industry, job prospects, required skills, potential challenges, and opportunities. Having facts and figures at hand will demonstrate your seriousness and preparedness.
  • Anticipate questions and concerns: Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and think about their questions or concerns. Be ready to address issues like financial implications, job security, the impact on family life, and your long-term plan.
  • Create a timeline and plan: Develop a rough timeline for your career change. Outline the steps you intend to take, such as skill development, networking, job hunting, or education. Having a plan shows you’re committed and have thought through the process.
  • Evaluate the financial impact: Consider how the career change might affect your household finances. Be prepared to discuss potential income changes and how you plan to manage them during the transition period.
  • Choose the right moment: Find a distraction-free time when you and your partner can sit down and have this career conversation. Avoid bringing up the topic during stressful or busy times.

Now that you have more guidance on preparing for your career conversation let’s examine some important do’s and don’ts for when the time comes to sit down with your partner. 

Career conversation: 

Do’s and don’ts

Do open the conversation gently. 

Begin the conversation by expressing gratitude for your partner’s support and acknowledging that the topic might be significant. Your appreciation will set a positive tone for the discussion.

Don’t bring up the topic amid another conflict.

No one wants to be blindsided by a complex conversation. The atmosphere for the discussion should honor the importance of the topic. 

Do use “I” statements. 

Frame your thoughts using “I” statements to express your feelings and needs without making your partner defensive. Using a gentle start-up can help. 

For example, say, “I’ve been feeling burned out in my current job, and I’ve been reflecting on other options. I would really like to talk to you about that. Is now a good time?” 

Don’t overwhelm your partner with too much information. 

If you are following this article, you’ve already done a fair amount of preparation for your conversation. That is wonderful and will be hugely helpful in explaining your thoughts and feelings to your partner. 

However, while you may have been thinking about this for some time, it may be your partner’s first time hearing about your potential career change. Let them know you are prepared to talk about as little or as much as they feel ready. Validate that you understand it’s a lot to take in and that their thoughts and feedback are vital to the conversation.

Do listen actively.

Be prepared to listen to your partner’s thoughts and concerns. Give them ample space to express themselves without interruption.

Don’t get defensive. 

Know that your partner may be slightly concerned or even skeptical of your career change — that’s understandable. Continue to assure them that you understand your discussion may bring up a host of emotions, and that is okay. Slow down and ask about their specific concerns in a curious way. 

Do practice empathy. 

Show empathy and understanding towards your partner’s reactions, whether excited, worried, or surprised. Acknowledge their feelings and demonstrate that you value their input.

Don’t get impatient. 

If the conversation becomes emotional or tense, stay calm and patient. Give each other space to express emotions, and avoid jumping to conclusions. Be willing to take a break if needed. 

Do try to be open to compromise.

Your partner’s perspective is valuable. Be open to discussing potential compromises or adjustments that could address their concerns while pursuing your career change.

Don’t seek perfection. 

Try not to get discouraged if your initial career conversation isn’t perfect. It may take a few chats for you and your partner to understand or agree on the topic and what the next steps should be. 

Do set follow-up conversations

Depending on the complexity of your career change, agree on when you’ll have follow-up conversations to discuss progress, concerns, and any plan changes.

Need more help navigating your career change conversation?

Undoubtedly, career or job change conversations can be emotional and anxiety-provoking for any couple. Job change anxiety can affect both you and your partner. It’s essential that couples feel like they can have truthful and respectful discussions around this topic. 

If you and your partner feel stuck addressing topics like this, couples therapy may be a great option to consider. We can help you and your partner work through this often challenging time. If you live in Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Texas, contact us to get started.