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