Updated: Jan 29, 2021
Rather than one day waking up and deciding it is time to move on, why not take a more proactive approach?
Regularly, through Top Tier and Possible, people come to us when it is time to move on. Reasons for looking for a new role are typically ‘push factors’ – ie: something is pushing you out of your current employer. Not that they are forcing you to move on, although that can be the case, but it is a passive place where, most likely, mounting factors of dissatisfaction have added up to you making the decision to move.
This passive approach puts you at the mercy of the market. You are on the back foot as you want to leave and have to deal with all of the psychological and performance issues that come with that while likely being more inclined to apply, interview and accept roles that do not align to what you really want.
I would suggest this is not the best way to approach your career. Apart from anything else, the proportion of time you spend working is significant. Assuming a 40 hour work week and sleeping 8 hours a night, 35% of your waking week is spent working. Surely it warrants a bit of thought, planning and proactive management?
If you have never done this, it can seem daunting but how about following these simple steps as a good starting place?
1. Figure out what 8 factors are important for you current role. They could be factors that you are happy with right now or those that are important for you to work on. It could include any of the below. Pick what is important to you, on the below list or not.
a. Package (salary, bonus, pension, etc.)
b. Progression Opportunities
d. Work/Life Balance
e. Management Responsibilities
h. Interesting Work
i. Client Facing Work
l. Opportunity to work remotely
m. Management of budgets
n. Able to make an impact
o. Admin and repetitive work
2. Score, out of 10, where you currently rate your satisfaction with these factors. 10 being ‘Couldn’t be better!’, 1 being ‘Time to do something about this urgently!’
3. Take a step back. Be curious about why you have included these factors, why are they important to you? What is causing you to score them how you have? What is becoming most important for you to work on or change? What is the interplay between these factors? For example, would you sacrifice some of a great package to get better work life balance? Can you tolerate a culture that is not ideal if there are great progression opportunities?
4. Having completed this, what is becoming clear for you? What do you need to do in order to achieve a better balance for your career? What are your options? Brainstorm – no wrong answers. Again, take a step back. What are you drawn to? What would the impact be on the ‘What is important to you’ scorecard be if you chose to pursue an action from the list?
At this point, you might be thinking – loads of work but no actions, no plan yet…. You are absolutely right but this is the foundation for the plan. While thinking – I’m going to look for a new job – may sound like a plan and is an action, without knowing what you are looking for, or why you are inclined to look, you are ceding control of your job search.
The other thing you may be feeling at this point is bogged down in options and variables! I promise you, spending time to get clear on what is important for you through this exercise is one of the most valuable sessions I do with clients. With clarity comes focus. What is the value in that? Once you know what you want, you can cut out all of the noise in the jobs market and make decisions with confidence. Decisions that you know align to your goals.
5. I would suggest you are at a point where you have to start making some decisions now. You know where you are, you know what you want to change, you are starting to come up with some actions. Now you need to make some commitments. Actions I typically see include things like:
a. Speaking with my current manager about salary / remote working / progression opportunities
b. Looking for opportunities within my company but outside of my team
c. Looking for a similar role within another company
d. Changing career – switching industry / function / etc.
e. Stay where I am but reframe how I think about it
At a minimum, you should now have some more clarity around your career, where you are going and what you want to do. With a plan in place to start to make some positive changes, you are back in control of what you want and where you are going. Set some personal timelines and get going – whatever that means.
All of the above possibilities (and this is by no means an exhaustive list) have options and decisions to make. How far into the future you set your timelines and plan is up to you and will vary from person to person but I would encourage you to review your plan and how you performed against your actions. Learn from your experience, and from your reflection, and use this to amend your plans going forward.
Taking control of your career is so important. It impacts a huge portion of your life from a direct time perspective but also indirectly. Being happy in your chosen path has such a broad impact on everything else that spending time on it yourself or investing in some quality career coaching comes highly recommended!