Is This a Good Time To Be Changing Jobs?
This blog is for all career transitioners. Anyone thinking about changing jobs, read on.
I’m seeing quite a number of adult job-seeking clients at this time. This is not unusual. I often find that people return to career coaching after a period of time, or commence career development planning around now.
Maybe it’s because it is Spring and the lighter days, the feeling of “new beginnings” and the idea of a ‘Spring Clean’ is tantilising. It may also be the sense that the months are passing quickly. It’s not long, dare I say this, to Christmas, which, in Australia, coincides with the long summer holiday break. We often find ourselves wanting things done and out of the way in time for this holiday. Ask any trades person. They will say that clients ask that their projects are finished “in time for Christmas”. Do we therefore feel the same way regarding our own “projects of the self“? I think so. I studied this post-modern concept, from Anthony Giddens, in my Behavioural Studies degree. It might be something of interest to readers.
Also, with respect to changing jobs, it may be that individuals told themselves several weeks, or months ago that they wanted, or needed, to look for a new job opportunity, but that they forgot, or nothing came up. We all get distracted by other commitments and pressures, especially in times of flux and churn. It is sometimes essential to turn to new concerns, which then go to the top of our To-Do lists. Before we know it months have gone by and our own needs have been over-ridden by a work project, a child’s illness, the roof leaking – Covid-19, no less.
So, is it a good time to look into changing jobs? Certainly it may be, but only if you don’t leave it too close to the end of the year! Don’t forget, the Christmas lights are already going up in Regent Street!
Meanwhile, according to the recently published 2022 Skills Priority List, “the number of jobs advertised in Australia in August 2022 reached 309,900, an increase of 42% for the same time last year.” Furthermore, recruiters also reported a drop in the number of suitable applicants for roles. You might look to this and feel motivated, perhaps, to take a chance on making a few job applications. This is low-risk, as it can be done while in employment. You need not exit a role when going through the application process. Process is my mantra and underpins my work as a Career Development Practitioner. We work with clients in the career change process. So if you follow the steps, you are safe. You take whatever risks are appropriate for YOU.
But as we head into November and December, some key roles may well have been filled and applications closed already. That said, there is always demand at this time of year for some jobs. These might be for employees to work over the Christmas and New Year period. The vacancies for “Christmas Casuals” are typically released in September, but you might be lucky enough to find some recruiters are still looking. Bear in mind, of course, that many, if not most of these roles end after around 4 to 6 weeks. Then again, if you perform well in the role, it is quite common for temporary contracts to convert into a permanent position.
The roles advertised as Christmas Casual are also typically entry level jobs, so this may not be ideal for many people seeking a career transition. But it could be a chance for you to give a new employment sector a go. Indeed, if you’re training in a new skill-set, this might be perfect timing. If the sector and potential opportunities are in fact tantalising, after this period, this is when it could be appropriate to do a short course so as to ready yourself to take the next step.
Bear in mind, however, that for management and executive positions, organisations may not want to spend money on advertising in late November, December, or even January. In Australia, many people are on leave from mid-December and then the long January summer holidays bring quite a number of business functions to a stand-still. Don’t be put off by a lower level of activity therefore, on the job vacancy websites. Even if you do apply for roles that are listed in late November, early December, you may find the responses slow and the interview timetable may well slip into the New Year.
If your transition need is not essential therefore, it might be more realistic to wait and put off your career transition activities. You can still be doing some planning and research at this time of year, but you might not be able to reach recruiters at all in January, even for speculative applications or networking purposes.
When to Quit
Just in time for Christmas a newly published book has hit the shelves. Maybe add this one to your wish list for Santa to contemplate. It’s called “Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away“, by Annie Duke. In Quit, Annie Duke talks about the risk that may, in fact, present itself if you remain in a situation that could be detrimental to your well-being. We speak a lot about well-being and not just since the global pandemic. This has, of course, negatively impacted the physical and mental health of individuals the world over. We already had significant health and welfare issues in society and in certain communities in particular. Wellness is a hot topic.
So, in terms of our overall wellness, a physician, mentor, friend and/or career coach may advocate that you consider quitting. To quit has been deemed a negative action. Especially as society favours perseverance and “success”. I’ve mentioned before the concept of “The Tyranny of the Shoulds“. We tell ourselves that we Should keep trying. It’s often essential and deemed noble to persevere, of course, but knowing when to exit is an asset.
For sure, quitting is seen by many as a “failure”, but I don’t like the word “failure”. We learn from every life experience and so to quit might be better seen as a strategic and positive action. After all, according to Hope Action Theory, hope and action go hand in hand. If we can hope for a better future, a better me, then we need to contemplate a plan of action. Again, this is where career development work come in, because if you are suffering from an internal conflict, or “career action crisis” as to what to do about you career and whether or not to change jobs, you may need some support. Why? Because this action crisis might, in fact, represent what the authors of the above-linked article describe as a “golden opportunity”.
What kind of job change?
So it’s a good time to be considering changing jobs if things are really overwhelming, or highly stress-inducing in our current role. We might tolerate difficulty for a time, however work-related stress can impact the quality of our sleep, our digestive and nervous systems. There can also be related impacts upon family and friends, especially within the household. You could be doing yourself and your loved-ones a favour to be considering career development support. This may help you to find the confidence and momentum to take action.
Clients may come into the career coaching process with an assumption of their own regarding changing jobs. This may be because they haven’t yet considered the range of options available to them. A client I worked with in her initial consultation, last week, felt that the only option for her was to exit the organisation she is currently working for. It wasn’t until we discussed what was occurring in her role, the tensions and the causes of these, that she was able to recognise that leaving this employer might not be necessary. Sometimes there is room for a conversation with a line manager, or mentor, within the organisation. This can help to resolve ongoing issues internally.
Nor do clients always have a good feel for the extent to which they want to pivot from what they are presently, or have been, engaged in. They might well assume that their skill set offers little in the way of a sideways or upward move. By sideways I mean something similar to their current role, at a similar level in terms of earnings potential. An “upward” job change is what many people are seeking. The advancement, which they may feel is their due. So we might look into their transferable skills and also into skills acquisition.
But the idea of upskilling can be daunting. So looking at how your current, existing skills may be appropriate to an internal advancement, or higher level role externally, can be exciting. Upskilling is a big and broad topic that I’ll not cover in detail here. Suffice to say it is certainly something that many adult job changers have not considered, due to the time and financial implications. But it needn’t in fact be expensive, or long-winded. Considering training or study options can make a significant difference in an individual’s perception of their ability to change jobs.
Regarding exiting the workforce entirely, a financial imperative, such as having to pay off a home loan, paying school fees, or other essential costs, is a significant factor. It often dictates that a career transitioner cannot contemplate ceasing employment entirely in order to take up full-time study, to retire, enter early- or semi-retirement. They may also say to me quite categorically, that stepping “back” to a lower earning role is out of the question. We explore this issue as well.
What jobs are out there?
The National Skills Commission has just released its findings around the Skills Shortages in Australia. This is interesting information and if you have a curiosity about any of the sectors mentioned, this can be motivating. A job changer might do their own research into the local job market. This can be carried out on the internet, as well as by carrying out some networking amongst family, friends and associates. I’ll talk more about networking in a separate article.
But we don’t advocate pursuing jobs simply due to the fact that there plenty of vacancies in a particular sector. It could lead you into wasteful applications, which is demotivating. After all, if you apply for vacancies based on availability, you might not reach the interview stage, as your resume may not include the appropriate details to attract the attention of the recruiter.
Finally, i would say that the push and pull of a range of considerations makes the decision around changing jobs quite complex. We are considering our own internal motivations and needs, when considering a job change. On top of these are external factors, such as the job market, broader economy and the time of year, etc. This is why changing jobs needs planning. It’s a project, just like writing the Christmas shopping list. After all, Santa takes all year with his planning!
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