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With the new year around the corner, many people may be busy making resolutions to change the course of their lifestyle.
Along with these lifestyle-changing resolutions, career always receives a good amount of scrutiny. Before you jump into making a drastic change like quitting your job or switching careers, however, you must be aware not only of the consequences of your actions, but also of the triggers.
Unlike buying a year-long gym membership at the beginning of the year, quitting your job in hopes of redefining yourself or your career can have grave financial and professional consequences. So even though it is good to be carried away with your new year’s energy, don’t attempt to take an action that could be regretted later.
Here are few points to keep in mind when you’re evaluating your professional standing.
Time for change
In making any major career change, you must pick the right timing — and that is not necessarily around January 1 of any year. The right timing is when you’re personally able and available to deal with the requirements of this change. It is also when the job market and your own industry are likely to support and enable you to make this change successfully.
For example, if you’re in a slow market with employers being shy in hiring, hoping to land a first job in a new career can amount to wishful thinking. In fact, you better wait and stick with what you’ve got until you catch an upward cycle where employers are hiring and willing to take a chance on someone who is not in a typical position in his or her career.
Personally, you also should keep in mind that making a major change like changing your job or switching careers takes a toll on your personal life. If you’re in the midst of marital conflicts, having a new child, or tackling medical issues or any other problems, this may not be the best time. In fact, having some stability on the job front could help you navigate those other issues quicker and be able to refocus on your career in the near future.
What’s the source of dissatisfaction with your career? Are you essentially unhappy with what you do? Are you hoping to get more money or recognition with a career switch? Is it a matter of just making a change somewhere in your life since that is the one aspect you could really change?
Knowing why you want the change is the first step to decide whether it is necessary or right for you. Even if it appears unwarranted after a closer examination, your ability to pinpoint your goals of change could lead you to make an alternative decision and take the right steps.
For example, if your concern about your job situation is not having sufficient time with your family, and you’re hoping to jump into a position that allows for more flexible hours, the change you need may be in working out a new schedule with your employer.
If you find that your interest in moving to a new career is motivated by money, you must take a realistic look at how much down time you are likely to have before being able to secure a job in a new career that could pay more than what you’re making now. In addition, consider all the costs that will go into your career change — from education and certification costs to time spent in job hunting. The switch could be a good investment, but it might not pay off right away.
The overall picture
It is always important to look at your overall career as a journey and see how every change of course appears on your resume. If you’re making too many changes and failing to develop extensive knowledge in any particular area, you could be hurting your professional development. Sometimes it could be better to stick with a job for a while and build transferable skills than bouncing around several jobs.
While being jack of all trades could be a plus for some employers, many others look for specialisation and in-depth knowledge, so make sure that your moves are calculated. In general, having a few years before a job change is advisable. But if a new job is in the cards for you this year, think twice about why and how you could turn this into a step forward in your career.
Changing jobs in the new year
Know why you want a new job
Ensure the timing is right
Work out a change with your employer
Think of the impact on your overall career
Source: Rania Oteify, Special to Gulf News
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.