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Thinking about a career change? Why the grass might not always be greener

Thinking about a career change? Why the grass might not always be greener

So that’s it – you’ve made up your mind. You’re moving on to pastures new. And you’re not alone.

In the last couple of years, millions of workers have quit their jobs in what’s been dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’. But before you make that leap into the unknown, just take a minute – those new pastures might not be quite as lush as you think.

Low pay, lack of flexibility, feeling undervalued, or just craving change – these are a few of the reasons why you may have decided to change jobs. The pandemic has also played a big part in altering our attitudes towards work. For some, the lack of face-to-face contact with managers and colleagues has made them feel invisible and overlooked. For others, working from home has given them a taste of a better work-life balance. And then there are those for whom the pandemic has been a wake-up call, shaking them out of their complacency and replacing it with a ‘you only live once’ mindset.

For anyone feeling this way, getting a new job’s a no-brainer, right?

Or is it? Are we right to think the grass is always greener? What happens if you climb over that work fence only to discover a whole lot of stuff on the other side that isn’t so great?

To avoid making a decision that you may regret later, I suggest having a good think about what’s really important to you in your work life. What makes you want to get up in the morning? What makes you happy at work? What gives you a sense of achievement and job satisfaction? Is it a good work-life balance, flexible hours, recognition, new challenges, great perks? Or is it just money?

It’s not all about the money …

The current skills shortage means that some employers are getting desperate and offering silly money. And while it might be tempting to accept a job that’s offering £10,000 more than your current role, it’s worth thinking about what the payoff could be. For example, an employer who pays over the odds might demand that you make work the priority in your life. You could be looking at longer hours and possible burn-out. If flexible working and a good work-life balance are important to you, would the financial boost be worth losing these other things?

Think also about what’s triggered you to leave

Maybe it’s a natural itch to do something new – you feel you’ve outgrown your current role and want to explore new opportunities. Or are you simply fed up with long hours, low pay, stressful working conditions, or feeling underappreciated? Perhaps it’s all of these things.

I recommend that you write down these thoughts and create a checklist of all the things you really want from your career. This will help you to understand more deeply why you might be feeling the way you do, and what’s driving you at an unconscious level to make the decisions you do.

With checklist in hand, a wise move would be to sit down with your manager and have an honest and open discussion about what’s important in your work, and whether it’s possible for the changes you need to be made. If your urge to change career has only arisen during the pandemic, remember that Covid has been tough on everyone – your manager has also had to adapt in difficult circumstances and learn new ways of doing things. You may be surprised at just how understanding and supportive they turn out to be.

Still convinced the grass is greener?

If after chatting to your manager, you’re still determined to jump ship, sit back and look at the bigger picture. Is the move you want to make going to get you where you want to be? Is it in an industry that’s growing? Is what you’re going to be doing meaningful for you? Does it fit in with your lifestyle?

Having that conversation with yourself, as well as creating your checklist, will help you to assess whether you’re making the right decision. It could also prove a useful benchmark for the future – if you’re headhunted or get invited to interview, for example – helping you to gauge whether the risk of going for a new job is one that’s worth taking.

So much of what motivates us is at an unconscious level, so sometimes it can be hard to work out what really makes us tick.

If you’d like help to better understand what it is you want from your career, or what questions you should be asking yourself, please get in touch. I use a career profiling tool called the Language and Behavioural (LAB) Profile, which provides unique insights into why we make decisions and want to do things or not do things at work. When making a choice about whether to change careers, this is so important to understand!