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How to avoid making a poor 'New Year, New Job' choice

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I love this time of year.  So full of promise and best intentions. 

However, how many of us get a few weeks in and have either abandoned our new hopes and dreams or have simply fallen back into old habits? As disappointing as this may seem, it may not always be as bad as leaping into something ill thought-out with farther reaching consequences.  I’m thinking of the raft of “New Year, New Job” adverts and encouragement from recruiters and agencies, which cajole some people into making a move that might not always be in their best interests. 

So, how can you avoid making a career move, that sets you back rather than moves you forward, at this time of year?

January can be a great time for professional recruiters and employers seeking good candidates – particularly in the current market where people seem to be struggling to find exceptional talent, or to convince experienced candidates to leave their current employer under such economic uncertainty. 

Nearly everybody is talking about gearing up to have “the best year yet”, whether from a business or personal perspective.  Employers and job seekers that put the search on hold to get the holidays and madness out of the way are resuming with renewed fervour and enthusiasm.  Most people have taken some time to review and re-evaluate life and professional choices, simply because the extended period out of the workplace, shared with family and friends, gives us the opportunity to do so.   In principle, this is great thing to do and I recommend it heartily (throughout the course of the year, not just at the beginning) but we need to be careful about how we go about it. 

If your Christmas and New Year period is anything like most of mine, it will probably be filled with copious amounts of alcohol and an indulgence of food and treats.  Throw into this mix; lots of love and laughter (sometimes a bit of shouting and pouting), uplifting festive films, and reminiscing over past times and loved ones that have passed.  Any decision-making done during this time is likely to be based purely on emotion and heart-over-head thinking.  Which is great! (Bet you didn’t think I was going to say that, did you?)

Decide what you want 
We are emotional beings.  If this time of year has made you question what you’re doing with your job and career, then listen to your instincts and go with your gut.  Something needs to change.  I am not saying don’t make the move.  You need to.  Your heart, mind and soul know that.  We spend way too much time at work to not keep the heart, mind and soul happy!  What I am saying, is that you need to decide what you want to move on to.  This is the part where you let your head help. 

I get a lot of calls three to six months into the year from people who decided to move in the new year, fuelled by resolutions and a determination to make this year the best yet.  They just didn’t take the time to assess what would make them happier, properly.

Grab a pen and paper
The good news is that there are just a few simple steps to take to reduce the risk of making poor choices.  In short, you need to identify what is lacking in your current position and identify what you want more of out of your career.  I would suggest that you take yourself off to a quiet corner with a piece of paper and a pen.  Write out:

  1. Your role – what aspects do you enjoy? Which do you hate?  What would your current role need to look like for you to really get job satisfaction and feel happy going to work every day?
  2. Your employer – what do you like about the organisation you work for?  Think about the people, the environment, the values and culture. What would you change if you could?  What would you like more of?
  3. In an ideal world, what would these two elements look like if you had your dream role within the best organisation for you?

This will help you to identify whether your role, your employer, or both are the reason for your discontent.  I have met many candidates over the years who wished they had stayed with an employer and worked harder with them to make changes to the role they were in or the culture of the business.  I have also worked with many people who wish they had made a move sooner. 

No regrets
If you have a clear idea of what a move needs to look, sound and feel like to be right for you then you will have a much greater chance of success and less for regret!  It will also make it easier for you to describe the sort of opportunities that will be a good fit for you if you choose to work with a recruitment agency, recruiter or head-hunter.  The better recruiters should really be asking you these sorts of questions rather than just conducting a tick-box exercise interview when meeting you anyway.

If you follow these simple steps it will help you to find a career opportunity that is something you really want to do, within an organisation you are proud to do it for, rather than accepting a role that you can do, simply for more money. 

Whether it be a career move, learning a new skill, spending more time with family or generally feeling happier and healthier, I hope that you really do make this year your best year yet!


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