Job or Career Change

Are you clear which you need?

Is it a new job or a career change that’s the solution to your career frustration?

You may be feeling totally fed up with your job at the moment and have decided that the only answer is a radical shake up. You want to do something totally different and get off this merry-go-round you are stuck on once and for all! That is probably why you have ended up browsing round this site.

However, making a complete change of career is a major undertaking, so before you leap in at the deep end, take some time to consider whether it is a change of job or career change that you really need.

Take a long look at your current role – especially if this is a career you have been following for some years now. There are many different factors that affect how you feel about work, so look at each of them in turn. Consider what the impact would be of changes to just one or two of these elements. A small adjustment can sometimes make a
big difference.

Job or Career Change?
What could make the difference?

Look at the organisation you work for.

What impact does the company size have on you? If you are in a very large corporation, it can be easy to feel anonymous and you might feel you will have a clearer identity in a smaller set up.

On the other hand, a small company could be limiting your opportunities and a move to a big firm might allow you to grow your role. The company culture may clash with your values. If the large corporate setting is beginning to feel too hard-nosed and profit orientated, what about working in the non-governmental or charity sector, where the company values are different? Would a job change to a different kind of organisation help?

What about the working conditions?

This could mean the hours you work eg a general culture of long hours and overtime, or a shift pattern that doesn’t fit well with your family. If you could adjust or re-negotiate your hours, how would you then feel about the job?

Part of the hours issue could be a long commute or a requirement to work elsewhere in the country or travel round the world. This may be something that appeals and so you want to switch to a role where this is possible, or you may prefer to look for a job closer to home which is more office based.

The office environment itself may be an issue. A small, cramped office with old furniture and equipment can be depressing and leave you feeling undervalued. On the other hand a plush penthouse office may feel great when you are meeting clients, but it can get to feel like shallow window dressing after a while.

A change in your working conditions can make all the difference when thinking about a job or career change.

The people you work with are a crucial part of the job satisfaction equation.

How do you get on with the colleagues in your immediate team? Are there people you can work comfortably together with or do you experience frequent clashes of opinions and approaches?

What about your boss. Does he or she give you the support and feedback that you need? Are you trusted to get on with the job, or micro-managed over every detail? Do you get the sense that your career progression is being encouraged or obstructed?

And don’t forget the clients you have to deal with. However  supportive your co-workers, if you are having to face difficult andchallenging clients on a daily basis, this can drain your energy. Do you enjoy the way you work with clients? Do one-to-one meetings suit you or would you prefer to work with groups?

Your specific job role is of central importance.

How do you feel about your day to day tasks and responsibilities? Is it too routine or too unpredictable? Is a large proportion of your time made up of the ‘boring bits’, with only occasional interesting challenges? Your role could have changed quite a lot from the one you originally accepted.

Do you find yourself with too much responsibility and too high a workload so that you are constantly feeling stressed and under pressure? Or alternatively do you have a sense that you are being wasted, that you could be doing so much more if only they would give you the chance?

Are you able to use the skills and strengths that show you at your best? If you know you are good with detail, are
you able to use this in your role? If you are a great innovator and creative thinker, does your job allow you to be creative? A job or career change that allows you to use your natural talents will lead to much greater job satisfaction.

Promotion prospects will matter more to some than others.

How important is it to you to see a career path mapped out ahead of you? Can you see opportunities in your current job or are you stuck in a dead end street? If progression matters to you, you may need to move to find it.

The future of the company may be worrying you. Has it grown or been taken over since you joined? Has that led to a change in culture which does not sit easily with you? Do you need to consider a move before the decision is made for you? But what is needed is a new job – career change is not always necessary.

Maybe you are thinking of moving up into management role so the change you are seeking (or is being thrust upon you) is an upward one. There can be particular challenges that new managers have to face, so be prepared!. An upward move can be just the change you need to refresh how you feel about your job, but make sure you are supported along the way, especially if you are a woman taking your first management role.

Your own personal situation may have changed.

You may find that your values have changed over the years you have been working and what was exciting when you first started work may now feel less inspiring, especially if family commitments are different now.

You may be more aware of your personal priorities in work and life and so you may want to reconsider the balance of your job and career.

You will be older and wiser than when you started work. It may be that you can be more accepting of situations now rather than feeling annoyed when things don’t go your way. You may realise that your desire for a high salary does not rank as highly now as job satisfaction

Check your attitude

Above all the most important thing when considering job or career change is to review is your attitude towards work and to change in general. It is easy to get thoroughly ground down by a job that is stressful or frustrating, but the danger here is that you end up constantly focusing on what is wrong and overlook that fact that there are some good bits.

Try making the decision to spend a week being positive, looking for the good aspects of the job, supporting and encouraging others rather than moaning at them or with them. You’ll be amazed how much difference it can make.

You may still decide that you want a change in career, but it could make the day to day of your current job a lot more pleasant!

What next?

Before deciding whether to make a job or career change, consider all these areas in turn and ask yourself if you could just make an adjustment to one or two, how would you feel about your job then?

For example, if you were doing the same kind of work in a smaller company nearer home, what difference would that make? If you moved to a large company where you could see prospects for promotion, would that re-energise you?

Don’t let one difficult person or one poor appraisal push you into a new career direction when an adjustment of the current one may be all that is needed.

So a critical step before deciding about your job or career change is to review your current situation carefully and make sure that if you do move, it is for the right reasons.

About the author

Amy Thomas

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