As recently as a quarter of a century ago, it wasn’t uncommon for a person to remain in the same job, or with the same employer, for a whole career. From miners to managers, once one’s education was complete and employment secured, they next forty years could quite easily be planned and predicted. But the decline of mass industry and the rise of the service economy more or less brought that tradition to an end. Even the public sector largely fails to provide ‘a job for life’ in the 21st century.
As a result, people’s working lives have never been more fluid and flexible. Indeed, some employers actively encourage a regular turnaround of staff. So, with this in mind, it’s vital to consider the importance of timing when changing jobs – and that begins with a question: ‘Why do I want to move?’
Of course, there’s a host of reasons for ‘itchy feet’. The most obvious being the feeling that better rewards and prospects are available elsewhere. However, the search for new employment is time-consuming, distracting and full of pitfalls. Indeed, finding a new job is a job in itself. What’s more, you are never able to guarantee that a move will deliver all, or any, of the benefits you expect.
Fortunately, there is an alternative – to improve your circumstances while remaining with your current employer. Although this does involve a certain amount of active decision making and determination, the outcome can be considerably more rewarding – both financially and personally – than simply heading elsewhere. Again, it comes back to the question ‘Why do I want to move?’
Once you’ve identified your motivations, you can begin to tackle any frustrations and dissatisfactions in a positive way. For instance, if you find your colleagues or line-managers difficult to work with, it’s worth ensuring you have raised this in your appraisals. It’s quite possible that some simple adjustments to practices or relationships are all that’s required to improve your situation. And it’s never a bad idea to examine the role you play in those interactions. It’s a tough question, but you should consider whether any aspect of your approach might be considered ‘difficult’.
Perhaps you’re content with your co-workers, but you would just like to be making more progress more rapidly. This is understandable. Most people are ambitious to one extent or another – and most employers welcome that enthusiasm. So don’t be afraid to communicate your wishes to your managers. After all, they may have identified you for promotion, but have left you unaware of the fact. Equally, they may not know you are happy to be considered for more responsibility, so don’t assume you are stuck until you’ve explored the possibilities. Another useful strategy is to spot a vacant position (or a post likely to become vacant) and suggest yourself as a candidate. This needn’t come across as conceited, as long as you give a strong rationale for your suitability. You may even be solving a big recruitment headache for your boss.
If you do push for promotion and find you have been unsuccessful, always ask for a detailed explanation. This will enable you understand the skills and attributes needed to progress and adapt accordingly, ready for the next time. You may not be quite ready for the next step immediately, but you can undertake internal or external training to help get you there. Almost every company has provision for staff training, there may even be a mentoring programme whereby a senior colleague guides your advancement, so take advantage of the opportunity and make it part of your strategy. It’s also perfectly reasonable to ask your employer for a timeframe and documented plan for your career development. With this in place, you’ll have a much better idea of your prospects.
And remember, Cogs is here to enhance your professional prospects, rather than place you in the first job we find. Sometimes our best advice is that you stay in your current role and seek upward progression from there. If you want a frank, open and confidential conversation with one of our consultants, feel free to get in touch.
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