There are very few certainties in life, but one of them is the fact that change is a given. Life transitions are bound to happen, and those can create a need in a person’s career to address gaps or unmet wants. There are times, even when life seems to be business as usual, that someone will consider a career shift, just because their gut tells them so. I’ve always wondered if others felt that craving that hits every 12 to 18 months when I’m craving something different, whether it be career, location, real estate, hobbies, or something else, but I’ve found there are more people like me that experience that same thing.
So, when is it the right time to consider a shift, at least with respect to jobs? From my years of experience helping accounting and finance professionals transition positions, these are the most common factors that lead someone to start looking in the first place, and eventually satisfy the need to try something new. However, it is always a good idea to do a balanced evaluation of your current position, as the grass is not always greener on the other side. There will be some give and take on intangible benefits you currently enjoy, having been a proven resource and having longevity with your current employer (e.g., PTO, flexibility, respect and comfort in your position, etc.). These most likely will “restart” with a new job. Figuring out whether these intangibles are MOST important and if you are comfortable with walking away from them will help prepare for any unpleasant surprises towards the end of the journey.
-Changes in Organization (Restructure, Acquisition, RIF, etc.): Changes in an organization are one of the most important reasons to look for another opportunity. Whether it’s due to an acquisition, reorganization, or a recent reduction in force, job security is absolutely at the top of the list for most candidates. Even if an organization tells you that “you are safe”, there are no guarantees. I would highly encourage you at least expand your network, no matter the assurance given.
-Changes in Personal Life: Changes in one’s personal life are usually the second most common reason I find candidates looking for opportunities. This could be due to adding new members to the family, a shift in a significant other’s career situation, health concerns (candidate or family member), etc. In all cases, this usually results in someone needing more work life balance, flexibility, or another intangible benefit their current employer just cannot provide.
-Changes in Culture: Changes in company culture can be caused by top side shifts in an organization’s vision, but an also relate to a change in leadership or a new boss. If you are the type of person driven by collaboration or engaging with your team vs simple execution of your day-to-day responsibilities, the impact of this change can completely disrupt your engagement in your position. You might be able to perform your daily tasks, but if the connection with your supervisor, or the people you work with, isn’t working, it might feel you are just going through the motions in a constant “just get it done and be done with it” fog.
-Changes in the Economy: Changes in the economy don’t happen THAT frequently but as we’ve recently seen with COVID, it can leave you holding your breath. If you’re like me, you lived through the recession back in 2007/2008 and it was NOT a fun ride then, or for years to come. Constantly worrying if you were “next” on the chopping block, and always trying to be the most efficient/effective in your job, can be exhausting. Thankfully, at least here in our Tampa Bay community, the job market is doing well. Having said that, if you are in an industry that is more easily impacted by shifts in the economy, it might not be a bad idea to look for a more secure industry.
-Changes in Location: Changes in location can be local OR can be across the globe. The most common one I find would be when someone purchases a home that creates a much longer commute to their current employer. While anyone can bear a longer drive for the short-term, the day-to-day commute (especially over bridges) will eventually get exhausting AND expensive. While remote work (at least a day or two a week) is getting more and more common, most people truly enjoy something closer to home on the days they do go in the office. For those looking for a more dramatic change of scenery (possibly to a different state), now is the time to expand that network of contacts and recruiters, as it’s not certain your current employer will be on board with you working remotely forever.
-Changes in Career Motivation (Title, Money, Role Challenges, etc.): Last but not least, we have the “everything else” category. Essentially, this comes down to career progression in title, money, and/or challenge in the position. There comes a time when we all feel we’ve done our job well and now we’re ready for new responsibilities to learn and grow. While some employers are proactive about creating a path for career driven professionals, some companies simply don’t have the opportunities due to the size/structure of the organization or tend to make assumptions about your level of job satisfaction. It’s essential to have these conversations during annual reviews and not be afraid to ask for more when you’re ready for it! If you’ve tried having these conversations and still nothing has changed, then it’s probably the right time to explore what else is out there.
No matter the reason you are considering a change, I highly encourage you to spend some time thinking about your future and mapping out your top priorities critical in your next role. Then, as you start looking, making sure the jump will meet those essential needs. Be sure to include your mentor, family, trusted members of your network, and your recruiter in conversations about your future. Use them as sounding boards to get an outsider’s perspective and to help in assessing your options.
Don’t forget the value that an independent recruiter can bring. I would say that 90% of our job here at Taylor White is serving as a career coach and advisor to our candidates, effectively helping people to successfully navigate the waters in their career shift. In any case, we are always happy to answer questions, provide feedback and intel on the current market, and have honest/transparent conversations regarding expectations.
Change is necessary but can be scary at times. With the right consideration and resources in your corner, you can time those leaps accordingly and guide your career forward!