when to change

Tim­ing is ev­ery­thing, but the hard part is know­ing when to make a move

The Australian - The Deal - - First Up - SHANE RODGERS

New job:

Re­mem­ber that great scene in The West Wing when Pres­i­dent Bartlett laments that he has so few days when he feels more en­er­gised at the end of the day than he did at the start? Many work­ers can re­late to that. The re­al­ity is that if your work drains you con­sis­tently, you should at least be open to the idea that you are in the wrong slot. Chang­ing jobs can take you six months or so, so it is bet­ter to plan be­fore you be­come too des­per­ate.

Shift­ing ca­reers:

Chang­ing ca­reers is scary. It can be ex­pen­sive and risky but, if you de­cide to back your­self, it helps to have had a bit of life ex­pe­ri­ence. The chance of change can bring a par­tic­u­lar zeal and ded­i­ca­tion to the new vo­ca­tion and speed fu­ture pro­mo­tion. Given the num­ber of decades we are likely to spend in work, a sweep­ing ca­reer change at least once or twice in a work­ing life will al­most in­evitably be the norm.

Hit the books:

Your first de­gree got you in the door but now ev­ery­one un­der 35 seems to have a couple of un­der­grad cre­den­tials plus a mas­ter’s. The most ob­vi­ous op­tion for cor­po­rate types re­mains an MBA but there are lots of al­ter­na­tives to the tra­di­tional of­fer­ings, with vary­ing de­grees of cost and qual­ity. Th­ese range from MOOCs or Mas­sive On­line Open Cour­ses from the world’s uni­ver­si­ties to short cour­ses at Ivy League col­leges and Oxbridge. You might not get a full MBA on­line but a switched-on boss may be as im­pressed by a MOOC on risk man­age­ment from the Univer­sity of Michi­gan as any MBA mod­ule – es­pe­cially if you can trans­late that to your job.

Take a break:

Aus­tralian work­ers, par­tic­u­larly man­agers, are no­to­ri­ously bad at tak­ing their full quota of hol­i­days. They are ei­ther too busy, too fear­ful of their job se­cu­rity or view an­nual leave as a nest egg. A re­port from Ex­pe­dia ear­lier this year found 11 per cent of Aus­tralians took no an­nual leave last year and this coun­try was one of the worst in the world for leave hoard­ing. No won­der so many peo­ple are grumpy.

Where’s my gap year?

This used to be for Bri­tish school-leavers who then spent a year in Oz. Now it’s a con­cept that has rapidly re­placed the no­tion of a sab­bat­i­cal or long ser­vice leave – even if it’s un­paid. Ideally ev­ery­body should aim to have a large work gap (not nec­es­sar­ily a full year) at some stage in their lives.

Look at me:

In one of my pre­vi­ous man­age­ment jobs, I got a let­ter from an em­ployee ask­ing for a pro­mo­tion and pay rise the first morn­ing I lobbed at the of­fice. That clearly wasn’t the right time. Peo­ple need to flag am­bi­tion so su­per­vi­sors see them in a pro­mo­tion mind­set, be ea­ger to vol­un­teer to fill in more se­nior roles when staff take leave and work hard to clearly out­grow their cur­rent level be­fore ex­pect­ing to move to the next. If you can’t get pro­moted, you can al­ways put your­self on to the job mar­ket to test your value. Sadly, some­times com­pa­nies fail to pro­mote some of their best peo­ple be­cause they can’t imag­ine them in a higher po­si­tion. When that hap­pens, you need to move on or put your­self into the pro­mo­tion spot­light.

Go­ing solo:

The start-up com­mu­nity laments that the av­er­age busi­ness starter here is aged about 35 while the av­er­age age for those in Sil­i­con Val­ley is about 25. By 35 most Aus­tralians have com­mit­ments and debt, which means that their busi­ness risk pro­file is some­what con­ser­va­tive. Thus, most of the suc­cess­ful busi­ness starts that I have wit­nessed were off the back of learn­ing a busi­ness as an em­ployee and then ap­ply­ing the learnt skills to a sub­se­quent owned busi­ness. This is al­ways less risky than just buy­ing a to­tally un­re­lated busi­ness and learn­ing as all the fam­ily sav­ings are on the line. At any age it re­quires a good idea and, ac­cord­ing to some busi­ness ad­vis­ers, enough cash to sur­vive six months un­til in­voices and rev­enue starts to flow.

A sweep­ing ca­reer change at least once or twice in a work­ing life will al­most in­evitably be­come the new norm

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