Make a Change or Improve Your Current Role
And How to Get Started
Coming off the egg nog and back to professional discontent can be painful after time-off over the holidays. All that typical talk of new year resolutions and big life changes may have you considering a new job to start the year off on a brand new foot.
This purpose of this post is to shed light on when it is best to make a career change and work towards that new dream role, and when it is best to stay where you are now and focus on improving your current job situation – and how to get started.
When To Stay The Course
You could find yourself in a similar position of discontent next year if you change over to the wrong job or wrong company – wondering why you even bothered to make the move at all. If you plan to make a career change this year, be sure to do it right.
For many professionals, their job dissatisfaction often stems from what they see as reoccurring issues such as overcommitted staff, unclear role definitions (not knowing who does what), lack of visibility and/or leadership, poorly executed business processes, unnecessary bureaucracy, and lack of systems information integration. These are not company issues at all, but are actual realities that companies face due to the sheer difficulty of conducting business in today’s fast-paced and demanding world where consumers simply expect more for less.
As a result, employers demand more and more out of their employees, and these realities continue to rear their ugly heads – only change slightly in varying degrees from one organization to next. Thus, changing jobs in hopes of not encountering any/all of these issues may not be a good reason to make a change unless the situation is truly unreasonable – because it is very likely that your next employer will be struggling with the same realities.
Making the best of your current job situation is a topic that I will discuss in a future post, which you can get by email if you sign up here. In summary, consider working with your current management team to create real solutions or improvements to these realities – you can do this by helping them set more realistic expectations of output, which may be more beneficial for you, your team and the organization – or by proposing updated ways of working to be more efficient. Working with your team in this way not only improves the productivity of the workplace, but also arms you with some great leadership experience and possible opportunity for professional advancement later, both inside or outside your organization (not to mention making you somewhat of an office hero in the process!) Rather than using your valuable time and energy to find a new job, consider making a professional commitment to spearheading change and evolution in your current company.
When Change is Truly Warranted
That said, there is nothing wrong with desiring and pursuing a professional change – just be sure that you are doing it for the right reasons such as:
1. You Want to Make a Lifestyle and/or Geographic Change
You’re reasonable happy in your comfortable job as a Data Analyst, but you are a staunch Anglophile with a penchant for Royal Family gossip. Since that vacation through the UK, you just can’t stop thinking about what it would be like to live and work abroad in London. I know this feeling all too well – since long before Will put a ring on Kate, I have been between the US and the UK making my life and career work on two continents. I have also lived and worked in five other countries – obtaining long and short-term residency through self-sponsoring, as a work sponsored consultant or employee, and as an online (remote-based) entrepreneur. It wasn’t easy, but it can be done as is evidenced by the large number of American diaspora that now reside and/or work abroad.
Getting work abroad requires a mix of luck, skills, persistence and knowledge of what your options are in your destination country’s immigration system. International recruiters/talent acquisition professionals, immigration attorneys, and relocation companies can be a great source of information – as can working with a network like Know Your World that has other professionals who have had success in making similar international transitions themselves.
2. You want to do something else
You have a great, stable job in the finance department of a profitable corporation, but you make the world’s best burrito and your dream is to share it with the world when you finally open your own TexMex Restaurant. You’ve been thinking about it for years, but the change is so drastic you don’t even know where to start. Worse, the fear of failure is terrifying – what would your friends and family say if it didn’t work out? The negative possibilities spiral in your head, and you end up doing nothing at all – leaving you feeling stuck.
Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that the journey isn’t easy (speaking from experience, it is an endurance test for sure), but the reward of knowing that your financial, time capacity and destiny is in your own hands makes the journey worthwhile for those of us who highly desire a lifestyle of freedom and are willing to put in the time, effort and sacrifice.
If you fall in this group, know that you don’t have to make a drastic decision right now. Consider allocated several months to plan, research and making a series of one-off transactions to get feedback and gain some quick wins. Before opening a TexMex restaurant – start by catering your nephew’s birthday party, or host an event of your own and invite friends and co-workers to ask for some honest feedback on your wares. Once you’ve gained this experience, raise the bar to do small charity, church or community events – then onward to more prestigious paid events. As your plans progress, speak to restaurant entrepreneurs and get their advice. Research the financials required, target demographic and the impact of geography/location. Discuss your plans and ambitions with a qualified, entrepreneurial-focused financial advisor on what you want, and how best to plan your successful change while also reducing personal financial risk. Finally, be sure to discuss your ambitions with your loved ones who will be impacted directly by this change (i.e., a partner, spouse, children). Be sure to get their support and set mutual boundaries to keep your relationships strong.
Steps like these will enable you to work towards your goal, enjoy your new quest, and realize some success without overstretching your time or budget.
3. You Want More Compensation
I always advise my clients to obtain a salary that they are financially able to commit to for their expected tenure in their new job – because once employed, very high salary increases are extremely rare (for salaried, non-commissioned based employees). And while institutional knowledge is a justifiable reason for employers to pay their long-term employees a bit more periodically its value is completely subjective.
Before making any decisions, ask yourself how satisfied you are with your job aside from your salary. Does the possibility of working in another organization excite you – or are you quite happy with your current work, role and your team? Would you jump through all the hoops to get a new job in a new organization if you were to stay at the same salary?
If you’re reasonable happy in your current role and the issue is purely compensation, then have an objective look at the going market salary for your current role in your current work location to see how your existing compensation package measures up. This is easy enough to do online with resources such as GlassDoor.com and Salary.com. Collate the data you find on what you should be paid based on market facts, then consider reviewing and discussing this information with your manager. Have a specific compensation adjustment ask in mind – preferably a bit on the high-side so there is room for negotiation. If the idea of having this conversation is intimidating, discuss it with a trusted colleague or an experienced career coach to best plan your approach.
Note that your job location can greatly influence the current average market salary for your role, however getting a new job in a new location may not benefit you if the cost of living is significantly higher in the new location (and don’t forget about incurring moving costs). If relocation is something you are considering be sure to do your homework on the cost of living using resources such as Numbeo.com, or even contacting colleagues, friends and local realtors/professionals in your geographical area of interest.
How to Make Your Change
1. Assess and Gather Facts
The first step to make a career change is to understand what you want, what you need and the market demand for it. Gather facts – review the job market for salary information to understand the feasibility of finding a role that you desire while also meeting your financial needs. Then discuss your initial thoughts with people that have relevance to your way forward – financial advisors, related professionals, trusted colleagues and career coaches that can give you practical advice and insight on how to move forward. They may offer a different perspective that can provide additional considerations that will improve your plan and shortcut you to success. Most importantly, discuss considered changes with any family that may be impacted, and keep their needs and desires in mind to keep a happy home.
2. Put the Time and Effort In
As a society we are very used to instant gratification. Is there anything you cannot order on Amazon and not get in two days? Yes: a career change that you are happy with! Making a successful professional transition will require thought, effort and sacrifice. If you are not willing to endure this, or if perhaps it is not the right time, consider sticking with your current lot and continue to think about what you want in the future – then address it at a more appropriate time (or as noted above, work to improve your current state at your employer). There’s nothing wrong with this, especially if you are unsure and/or indecisive. Delaying a career move to think it through and do it right is much better than the alternative of making a big (and/or expensive) mistake.
3. Take Stock of What You Have and Don’t Have
If (and when) you are ready for a career change, take stock of what you have and don’t have – then get organized.
For Mr. or Ms. Burrito – collate your recipes into a book, get some written or video testimonials from your biggest food fans, and create a simple website. Think through how you could make money now through small jobs doing what you love within your current time and equipment. Getting some experience doing small jobs will give you the references, confidence and funds to move onward to the next step.
As an Anglophile Analyst, you may have many professional contacts in your geographic area / country, but you don’t know a soul who has moved from the US to the UK – or how to meet the right people to help you set up a viable working situation there. Start by expanding on what you already have – and do your homework. Does your existing organization have overseas offices and the possibility of transfers? If you work in retail, what international retailers could use your skills and experience? How could you reach them? Assess the hidden value that you could leverage to convince a company to sponsor you. Find discussion threads and groups online where you can ask questions and contribute. Find other expats in your profession and ask them for advice, how they did it, and if they know of any opportunities. Consider working with a career coach or colleague that have done it themselves to guide you on how to short-cut your efforts and make the most of your time.
Want to learn more about career change, or living and working overseas? Contact Know Your World (for international opportunities) or firstname.lastname@example.org for career change coaching.
Tracey is the founder, visionary and leader of Know Your World and has lived and worked in various locations in the US, UK, Europe, Africa and Asia.
Tracey has held a long-standing, successful business management and IT consulting career, helping large and small global organizations deploy new technology solutions to transform their business. She is also an entrepreneur, coach in career change and international job/life transition.
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