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Time for a Career Change? How to tell if you're ready


A recent Investors in People (IiP) survey revealed that 24% of the UK workforce are actively looking for a new job, while 32% are “considering a move”.  That’s nearly two-thirds of UK employees going to bed on Sunday night not feeling so great about work the next day.

Changing jobs is a major life upheaval and one of the most stressful things you can do – it’s in the top 20 on the Holmes and Rahe stress scale (number 8 if the change was enforced upon you).  So, you really want to make sure that you do it at the right time and that you get it right in order to avoid jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire...

When is the best time to create a career I love?

I worked in senior level recruitment for over a decade and very quickly learned that the best time to change jobs is when you’re attracted “TOWARDS” something and not running “AWAY” from it.

When you’re running away, you’re in “fight-flight-freeze” mode and consequently your brain does not process things logically.  You will often make quick and “rash” decisions which are likely to cause you pain in the not-too-distant future (yes, I’ve made a few of these in my time!).

But how do you make sure you’re running TOWARDS the right thing?  The key here is to look at your career as a fluid, flexible and evolving part of your life.  Keep checking in with how engaged you are in your current role, organisation and profession and you can start to visualise, research and prepare for any tweaks or major changes you want to make in good time.

That sounds ideal doesn’t it?

HOWEVER, it is a very small percentage of people that plan their careers at the TOWARDS stage.  Most of them are running very quickly AWAY from a job, a line manager, a company or a profession.

Whilst I am on a crusade to help people take a more strategic and logical approach to evolving their career, what are the practical steps that you can take if you’re further towards the AWAY stage?

There is one major question you need to ask yourself before deciding what direction to take:

What is the root cause of my pain?

In the IiP survey, almost two-thirds of staff said that stress at work was causing them lack of sleep and a similar proportion felt like they were always on duty.  When things are bad, it can be easy to think that the grass will be greener elsewhere.  However, this is not always the case.

Ask yourself what is the main cause of your discontent?  Is it:

  1. The job you’re doing?  Perhaps you’re bored in your current role and it’s time to explore a promotion, a lateral move within your organisation or taking on a new project.
  2. The company you’re doing it in?  If it’s a bad relationship with your line manager / team, perhaps you could explore other opportunities within that company.  If it’s the values and culture of the organisation which no longer fit with your own, perhaps it’s time to move to a different organisation.
  3. The profession you’re in?  If you find that your profession no longer excites you, then it is probably time for a deeper, longer, harder look at making a complete career transition.
Asking yourself these questions should enable you to decide what kind of changes you’d like to explore.  I urge caution before making too drastic a move.

Find out it you’re ready for a career change by taking our simple quiz.

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