It's only weeks until Christmas, and with the days getting longer, the weather getting warmer and spirits rising after a long dark winter, it's easy to start thinking about change. People are itching to shake off the shackles and to emerge as newer, better and more successful versions of themselves. If this urge for something different has struck you and you think it might be time to look for a new job, here are some tips for ensuring that you don't jump from the frying pan and into the fire.
It's better the devil you know.
Okay, what I mean by this is make sure you understand all the good and bad points about your current job/employer. This may mean you take a step back and try to be completely objective in reviewing your situation. What do you really like about your current job, and what don't you like? Try not to be too emotionally connected to these pros and cons, because sometimes, in hindsight, you will realise that you didn't hate your job after all, and you wish you had never left. Beware the vague 'I just feel like a change' thing – try to be specific about why you think you should leave. Only after doing this will you really understand your motivations for looking for a new job.
Try to work it out.
It is very easy to become emotionally invested in unhappiness. If your feelings are hurt or you feel under valued or taken advantage of, then you will tend to focus on this negativity. But before throwing your hands in the air and storming off into the night, forever the victim, do this: now that you have your list of pros and cons about your current job, identify what can be changed and then try to address it. For example, if you are unhappy because there don't seem to be career development opportunities, sit down with your manager and openly discuss this.
Ask if there will be opportunities for promotion or for moving to a different role or different team and what you need to do to be eligible to take advantage of these opportunities. If the response is that you are doing a great job but there just isn't going to be an opportunity to do anything other than what you are doing now, then you know where you stand. Either you accept and stay in your current position because there are other factors that make up for the lack of opportunity, or you can now look for a new position with the peace of mind of knowing that you would never get what you need in your current situation. I think it's important to have that conversation, though.
Don't just run for the hills because you're afraid of a potentially awkward conversation, only to find out later that you could have had a promotion or new opportunity with your current employer, if only you had asked for it.
Remember the butterfly effect.
And, no, I don’t mean the movie.
I mean don’t forget that one change inevitably affects more parts of your life than you imagine. You might take on a new sales role because it's a step up and you have a lot more responsibility – and this has appealed to your own sense of success... only you find that with more responsibility comes more responsibility and your hours are longer, you have less time with your family and you are effectively on call 24/7.
And your sales targets are a lot tougher. So, was the change worth it? Did you factor in the longer hours, the increased work demands, the smartphone turned on 24/7? Does this change work for you? Sometimes what you think you 'want' is exactly what you don't need. So if you are looking because you want to take on a more senior position, have a very good understanding of what changes will happen in your life as a result. A higher salary may not seem like a perk after all.
Don't rob Peter to pay Paul.
Ah, I am the queen of clichés today! Okay, what I mean here is: don't mess with one company to negotiate a better deal with another company. To be frank, the days of getting a job offer from a company to use as a negotiating tool with another should be long behind us. Particularly if it's all about the money. Don't get one company's hopes up and annoy another just to get a pay rise. If you want to know what you are worth, use an online salary tool to bench mark your situation against the current market. www.salarysiite.com.au has live data and easy to use. Use this data to negotiate a pay rise – it makes you informed and reasonable without making your employer think you have been running behind their back.
Beware the counter offer.
I am not just saying this because I am in an industry that makes money out of you taking a new job. I am saying it because counter offers rarely work in the long term. Mainly because you didn't do the first step properly and understand the pros and cons of working for your current employer. It's flattering to get a counter offer. You feel valued and wanted.
You feel important, and, for that moment, you have more power in your employment relationship than you, perhaps, have ever had before, and it can be intoxicating. But let me burst your little bubble and ask you this: why did it take you getting a new job offer before your current employer came up with the goods? Were they unwilling to offer you what you wanted when you asked for it before?
If this is the case, it won't take long for the cracks to appear and for you to be unhappy again. If you have invested the emotional energy in interviewing and negotiating with a potential new employer, then you have lost emotional engagement with your current employer. I don't know if you can get that investment back if you stay in your job.
When it's time to go...
It's time to go. If you have looked hard at your current job and your employer, if you have a good understanding about what works for you and isn't working for you in that situation, and if you have talked through your concerns with your current employer and you know that they cannot give you what you want, then it's time to go. With a clear conscience and a focus on where you want to go in your career, look for a new job.
All the work you have done in evaluating what it is you want and need will pay off, because it will be easier to ask the right questions of new opportunities and, in the end, to make a decision when you receive a new offer. But don't resign until you have signed a new employment contract!