When Is It the Right Time to Make a Change in Your Career?
We've all probably had the same fantasy at work at some point in our lives. We look out the window on a gorgeous summer day and everyone outside seems to look so happy, with a spring in their step and a smile on their face, while you're stuck at your desk, desperately putting off that to do pile. So, we think to ourselves how wonderful it would be to just get up, walk out and start a new life in the sun.
While a nice thought this is unfortunately not practical for most of us. We can however always switch jobs or even change careers with a little bit of planning and preparation. There are many different reasons why you might want to change jobs including:
- Being tired of the same old grind.
- No opportunities for growth in your current role.
- Toxic working environment in your organisation.
- Your current job may be at risk so a job switch could mitigate redundancy.
- You've had a long term dream of pursuing a different career but have just never had the opportunity to try.
Whatever the reason for the switch though, we're here to guide you through some of the differences between a job change and a career change and tell you some of the questions you should be asking yourself before you take the leap.
Generally for those who are happy with the general career they're doing and would like a similar role.
This is a lot easier than a wholesale career change as you'll be switching to the same role or something similar in another organisation.
A good time to switch can be when you've reached a plateau in your current position and there's no longer any room for advancement. This can often be the case in small organisations where you outgrow the role and need to spread your wings.
You may also no longer feel challenged in your role but want to stay in the same industry, Here a sideways job switch could be useful. For example, you may be a qualified accountant who has worked payroll for many years but want new challenges in preparing company accounts instead. Many organisations now offer this sort of sideways job hopping.
Often a much bigger commitment than a simple job role change and is most likely for those seeking something completely different or wanting to pursue a lifelong dream.
This can also often happen within the same organisation you're currently in. While you may be working one particular role you will likely have detailed knowledge of business operations across the company, many people can make a career switch over to other departments and be trained in a whole new career in house. This is especially true where the company values you as an employee. Those transferable soft skills can often be more of an advantage than qualifications.
For a career change the biggest question to ask yourself is are you ready to start all over again? If you're following a passion then the answer is usually yes.
Questions you should ask yourself to help you decide
Is my current role damaging my mental health?
If you genuinely dread going to work to the extent that it's starting to affect your mental health it's definitely time to change jobs. This is especially the case if you've exhausted all the options available for improvement at your current workplace.
Can I afford to leave my current job?
We'd recommend always trying to line up another job first before leaving your current role. Failing that try and have at least 3 months worth of expenses saved up as a buffer. Job hunting can be a time consuming endeavour and you don't want to find yourself in financial dire straits.
Do I have time to complete the training for a career change?
If you're pursuing a dream career completely different to your current role it's going to be difficult to jump straight into it. Consider taking night classes in your desired career or online courses in your spare time while you remain at your current role for security. Just make sure you have time to prepare before jumping in the deep end.
For those who just can't wait to quit their old job though, as above, we'd recommend having a big savings buffer in place before you take the leap.
What is the current jobs market like?
Is your chosen industry hiring right now? Do your research and keep an eye out for the prime time to switch jobs. You can use the interim period to complete additional training and brush up on your skills.
Have you tried everything you can to improve the situation in your current role?
Sometimes a change isn't always the right move. Instead, a conversation with a manager or the HR team might be all it takes to make changes in your current role and reignite your passion for the job.
Have you fully researched your desired new role?
How much do you know about the people there and the working environment? Will your benefits and salary be the same or better? Will your new role bring the work-life balance you're looking for? All of these questions relate to making sure you're prepared. Remember, you're going to spend a large portion of your life at work, make sure you don't leap into quick decisions without thinking.