What now? Thinking about your career after a burnout


Almost everyone who has suffered from a burnout has considered changing their work (environment) at some point. As a result of your complaints, you may have explored the possibility of finding another job and, therefore, a different future. It is important to think this through carefully before making an impulsive or thoughtless decision.


Returning to your current position

The first question is whether you want to return to your current position. You may prefer not to, or you may not have the confidence to apply again. It is important to solve existing problems so that you can be sure that quitting your current job is not an impulsive choice or the result of ‘flight’ behaviour. When you return to your current position, several problems may arise:

  • You have difficulty with certain aspects of your position. For example, a high workload or unclear tasks.
  • Certain working conditions limit your performance
  • There are unresolved conflicts
  • Your position has been lifted
  • You have been transferred to a different workplace
  • Your abilities and skills are insufficient for the position
  • The content of your current position has changed

It is important to address and resolve the factors mentioned above, for example by setting priorities, planning breaks and guarding your own boundaries. Or by engaging a mediator to resolve conflicts.


Changing position within your current work environment or organization

You may be considering applying for a new job, but you also feel at home within the company you work for. Does your current position not provide you with the things you find important? In that case, it might be possible to change your position/function.

This can be handled in 4 ways:

  1. Find another similar position at the same level.
  2. Participate in internal training and relocate.
  3. Demotion (move from a higher position to a lower position).
  4. Promotion (move to a higher position with other, more challenging activities).


Leave your current work environment

There can be various reasons for leaving your current employer, e.g., because you are forced to leave or because you are fired after being on sick leave for a long period of time. Other reasons can include leaving voluntarily, outplacement (involuntary dismissal with a placement at another organization) or early retirement. In each case, you will have to deal with regulations and authorities. It is important that you are well aware of your rights and obligations, so that you are not faced with unpleasant surprises. Once this is all sorted out, you can focus on the following options:

  1. You are looking for a similar position at another company. If you enjoyed your job and it went well, this could be an option. An advantage is that you are familiar in the field and can use your career network to find a new employer.
  2. You are looking for a different kind of job. If so, it is important to know what you are capable of and where your skills lie. This can be done with the help of your therapist or with an outplacement process. The Institute for Employee Benefit Schemes (UWV) also offers these types of programs.
  3. You start your own business. This requires the right preparation but can certainly be a good way to put some fun and excitement back into your work.
  4. You stop working. This is an option if you can make use of an early retirement scheme. If you retire, it is important to think about how you will fill your days.


Whichever path you choose, it’s good to get help making work-related choices. If you suffer from burnout, it is often necessary to examine your situation with the help of a coach, psychologist or other professional. By doing this, you will get a good understanding of your current situation, what you can expect and how you can deal with that.



Keijsers, G.P.J., Van Minnen, A., Verbraak, M., Hoogduin, C.A.L. & Emmelkamp, P. (2017). Protocollaire behandelingen voor volwassenen met psychische klachten.

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