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What Do You Fear Most About Your Career Change

What Do You Fear Most About Your Career Change

Updated February 2017

Fans of Dune by Frank Herbert will remember two famous bits from the book:

“Fear is the mindkiller.”


“A beginning is a very delicate time.”

Executive job seekers may let fear cloud their judgement on moving forward with a job search, but knowing how to leave those fears aside and create a new beginning is crucial to job search success.

“When is the right time for me to make a career change?”  There is no easy answer to this question. If you are scared to change your job, then clearly this is not the right time. But if you’re ready to take the plunge, here are some thoughts about how to evaluate what is holding you back.

executive job search fears

Executive job search fears will get in your way.

One of the clearest markers that you are ready to leave your current company and join a new one, is simply the knowledge that you can do more or to better in another environment. Once you have come to this decision, however, you might struggle with understanding your motivations, your need to elevate your income, or your commitment to the incredible team you have created. These fears are natural, because we all fear change. The status quo is a known quantity, whereas moving toward something new, even if it’s what you really want, can provoke some anxiety even in the most accomplished of executives.

If you are looking for a clear reason to leave, you can always find one. But if you’re looking for a smart reason to leave, you need to face a few key fears that all people in career transition experience at one time or another:

  1. Fear of change away from the familiar. What you have now in your current role, even if it is not ideal, is familiar—even comfortable in its frustration. We often fear making changes because we don’t know what we will find on the other side of our decision. If you are considering making an executive career change, you need to believe in your ability to make good decisions, just the way you do in your executive role.
  2. Fear of disappointing the team. As much as you may love the team you are working on, you have to look out for yourself in your career. As deep as your commitment to your team may be, you have to make a decision about your career that is best for you.
  3. Fear of killing a relationship trusted mentor or boss. The relationships you have built with mentors and superiors in your current company are still going to be important, even if you leave your current company. As you decide to make a move to a new organization, or even to a new executive role, you need to preserve the good relationships you’ve built. Your current network will continue to be important in your new company; you never know when you will need the help from or support of your network in the future. Also, people in your network may reach out to you as well, and you need to give back to as much as you have ever taken from these people who have helped you.

In conclusion, fears of job change, especially for executives, are not insurmountable, but neither are they trivial. You need to be mindful of your underlying self-talk to understand what about career change makes you fearful. You may ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I mentally ready to leave my organization?
  • Will I have no regrets if I leave my organization?
  • Will I truly be happy in a new role that challenges me and elevate my professional game?

If you are able to answer “yes” to all three of these questions you can feel confident that you are ready to leave your fears behind as you move to a new executive position.