It Time for a Job Change?
With the start of a new year,
you may be among the millions of people thinking of making an important
change in your life. If one of the changes you are considering is your
career, here is some advice to help you decide whether to make the move.
Most job changers leave because
they no longer enjoy their work. If your job is a source of dissatisfaction,
the signs are probably clear.
A feeling of dread may start
creeping over you every Sunday evening as the work week approaches. While
you once bounced out of bed on Monday mornings eager to get to the office,
you may now find yourself hitting the snooze bar as many times as possible.
The thought of calling in
sick may cross your mind. In fact, going to work may actually make you
sick. (More heart attacks occur on Monday mornings than at any other time
of the week.)
If your job is no longer
something you enjoy, you are not alone. A Wall Street Journal-ABC
News poll found that half of all workers polled would choose a new line
of work if they had the chance. So why don't more people quit their jobs?
According to John W. Thibaut
and Harold H. Kelley, authors of The Social Psychology of Groups,
some people will stay in an unsatisfactory situation because they do not
see themselves as having alternatives.
In an economic downturn,
such as we are experiencing now, employees are less likely to consider
leaving. According to the World at Work survey conducted recently
by Adecco Employment Services, 53% of employees say it's harder to find
a job now compared to five years ago. However, the same survey found that
58% of employers say they actually have better jobs to offer today.
Even so, many employees are
held back by "golden handcuffs," meaning they are so well compensated
- through salary, company stocks, pensions, or other benefits - they believe
they cannot afford to quit their job. Faced with a mortgage, other financial
commitments, and people who depend on them, an employee shackled with golden
handcuffs may fear leaving their job will lead to financial loss.
Of course, if you are close
to retirement, it may be better to stick it out so you can collect your
pension. However, for many people a new job often goes hand in hand with
a higher salary, which could make up for lost benefits. And even if a new
job means taking a step back financially, it may be worth it.
the choice, your loved ones would probably prefer to have more time with
you, and see you less stressed, even if it meant scaling back your lifestyle.
But before you march into your
boss's office and announce "I quit," there may be other options. If you
enjoyed your job at one time, but have become dissatisfied with it lately,
you may be able to boost your job satisfaction without leaving your current
For example, one reason people
decide to change jobs is because they have become bored with their work.
Yet boredom can be a natural consequence of mastering your job. When you
first started your job, you probably found your work challenging and interesting
as you were learning how to do it. As you learned more, your challenge
was to become an expert. Once you became an expert, the challenge was gone.
Instead of moving, why not
see if you can take on new challenges in your current workplace.
Most employers realize it is costly to replace good employees, and will
do what they can to keep them. Talking with your boss about why you are
dissatisfied may lead to a solution. You may be able to move to a new position
in your organization, or take on new tasks in your present position.
If the problem isn't a lack
of challenge, but exactly the opposite (too much stress and too little
family time) you may want to consider a completely different type of career
change - moving down. For example, if you loved the frontline job
you had before becoming a manager, you may be able to reduce your stress
and resume working regular hours by returning to a frontline position.
If the problem is not the
work itself, but the people you work with, start by looking at whether
this is a common pattern. If you have had serious problems with your boss
or co-workers in almost every job you've had, chances are you will eventually
experience the same problems no matter where you move.
Office politics or personality
differences exist in virtually all organizations. It may be easier to learn
more effective ways of dealing with these issues, rather than trying to
find a workplace where they don't exist. Furthermore, most employers prefer
candidates with a stable job history, so changing jobs too often can affect
your future career prospects.
If compensation is
the main issue, consider asking for a raise or additional benefits. It's
a good idea to research salaries for similar positions in your industry,
so you have some concrete data to show your boss. Even more important is
quantifying the value you bring to your employer (for example, showing
how much revenue you have brought in or how much you have saved the company).
If you are not able to find
a solution with your current employer, then it may be time for a change.
Assuming you work an average of 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, for 50
years, you will spend 100,000 hours at work. You deserve to spend most
of that time doing something rewarding and meaningful.
by Tag Goulet
Sisters Tag and
Catherine Goulet are the Dream Career Experts. In 1999 they founded FabJob.com,
the leading publisher of guides on how to break into a dream career, which
has been visited by 50 million people. They have been featured in media
from ABC to Oprah.com and Woman's Day to the Wall Street Journal
online, and their career advice appears on the career pages at AOL, CNN,
and MSN. They are authors of Dream Careers
and other career books. Visit www.FabJob.com
to discover how to break into your dream career.
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