Career Change: The Allure of the New
There are times in our lives when we wonder whether what we have is good enough. This can apply to a relationship, a lifestyle, a home, a job… When it comes to your career, whether you are in the right place, at the right level of responsibility, is a question worth asking yourself. The risk otherwise would be to bask in the comfort of permanent self-satisfaction.
At the same time, when faced with the prospect of a new career, it is worth questioning your motivations:
Is it avoidance? Are you tempted by a new job because it seems easier to jump ship and start afresh than to persevere in your current employment?
Is it an ego trip? Are you considering a move because the new job is more prestigious, pays better and will make you look good, or because it serves your deeper aspirations?
Am I attracted to the short-term benefits that this new career offers me, or is my decision based on long-term career objectives?
However, career change isn’t always about increased seniority and better salaries. It can be about serving one’s true vocation.
We hear regularly of people leaving highly paid City jobs to become school teachers, artists, priests or any other professions that serve their higher purpose. In a rather oblique way, such career moves can sometimes lead to more rewarding careers, not only for the soul!
I once had to make a difficult choice, early in my career. After four years in investment banking, I was tempted to quit the career I had studied for and worked hard at, to join a small communication coaching firm. I struggled with this decision and decided to spend my Christmas holiday in Jordan, hoping that after ten days of relaxation spent between archaeological sites and long desert walks, I would return to London with greater clarity about my choice. Unfortunately, I returned non the wiser.
The bank for which I worked tried to retain me, first my boss, then my boss’s boss. Ultimately the overall team’s Head gave me the best advice: “If you believe that where you’re going is a place where you will learn more than here; then you’re making the right choice.” I resigned the following day and have never regretted it.
This was two decades ago. With hindsight, my advice to people considering career change would centre on this question: what is it that you’re missing in your current job that you feel you will get in your new job (and how sure are you that it will be given to you?)
For example, if you feel that you’re not learning anything new in your current position, it may well be that changing job will fulfil this aspiration. At the same time, there may be other solutions that would serve the same purpose, yet minimise your risks; for example:
Seeking opportunities internally to move to a new position, or take on new responsibilities in your existing job
Explore what training opportunities your current company may offer you
Seek out learning opportunities outside your company (it could be starting a new degree or qualification through remote learning, attending evening classes, or negotiating with your company to have time off to complete such a course)
This is only one example. Perhaps what you feel you are missing isn’t learning opportunities. It could be anything else. But whatever the reason, it is worth asking yourself: what is it exactly that I feel I am missing here, and is there a way I could find it whilst remaining in my current company? And if so, what would it take?
It may be that the conclusion will still be that accepting another job is the best option for you. In that case, all you have to do is take a leap of faith and sign on the dotted line.