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New year, new job? How to know when it's time for a change

As a new year begins we enter into ‘resolutionseason, a time to both reflect on the goals we set ourselves at the start of the year and to think about what we want to achieve in the months to come. Maybe you want to hit the gym more or get through your enormous ‘to read’ list.  More importantly, perhaps, this is the year you are finally going to make a change and switch jobs.

Dr Amanda Allisey, lecturer in Deakin’s Faculty of Business and Law, talks us through the concept of change, what influences our desire for it, and if in fact, there is a perfect time to make that new career switch.

What influences our desire to change careers?

Money makes the world go round, or so they say. Interestingly however, it does not influence our desire for a career change as much as we would expect. According to Dr Allisey, ‘Despite common perceptions, pay is only marginally associated with job satisfaction and tends to be lower down on the list of reasons why people decide to leave an organisation.’

Work culture, says Dr Allisey, holds greater influence on our decision making. This is because it is the work culture that determines how aligned we are with the goals and values of a given organisation. A mismatch between a company’s work culture and your personal values ‘can cause feelings of dissatisfaction, disengagement or restlessness, and ultimately trigger a search for a new career or organisation.’

The availability of alternate career options and general job market conditions also have a large influence on career behaviour. ‘When job market prospects are good, we tend to see more movement as good talent becomes harder to retain and employees find that they have more options available to them.’

Do people seek change for the wrong reasons?

There are two reasons we seek change: push and pull factors. Push factors relate to job satisfaction. That is, how happy you are in your current state. Pull factors relate to external opportunities that may fulfil your own personal aspirations or goals.

Leaving a role because of push factors can be the ‘wrong choice (unless of course the current role involves any form of harassment or poses a health concern in which case you should leave immediately) while choosing a new career or role based on pull factors is likely to have a net positive effect on your career.’

'Despite common perceptions, pay is only marginally associated with job satisfaction and tends to be lower down on the list of reasons why people decide to leave an organisation.'

Dr Amanda Allisey,
Deakin University

How do we know when it is finally time to make that change?

Essentially, there is no perfect time to make a change due to the fact that each job or career is unique and different. According to Dr Allisey, this equates to a lot of movement, and a lot of opportunity with recent research suggesting that ‘young Australians will have 17 jobs over five careers in their lifetime.’

‘Non-standard careers are increasingly prevalent with greater prevalence of ‘gig’ work, remote work, and managing a portfolio of work rather than holding specific roles or jobs. All this means that the traditional view of ‘up or out’ is less relevant.’

What is some practical advice for those of us looking to switch careers? 

1. Focus on your skills 

Consider the skills you possess that make you unique and well-rounded. ‘Research finds that future work is best defined by ‘clusters’ rather than jobs, and adding one or two skills to your repertoire often means that you can increase your employment options by increasing the clusters that you are qualified for.’

2. Know what your values are

It is also important to identify the values that are important to you and align yourself with organisations that reflect them. ‘Ultimately, you will be happier, more satisfied and engaged when there is a fit between your personal values and aspirations and those of the organisation.’

3. Do your homework

Organisational culture and the leadership of the organisation are essential to your ongoing experience. ‘Use your network to understand how the organisation operates and whether there are any red flags to indicate the culture might not suit you.’

4. Find a mentor 

A mentor can help you work through your options and hone your skill set. ‘Working with someone who is experienced in your field or in career planning can be an excellent way to develop your career plan and ensure that you are on track with your own personal development.’

Thinking of taking the leap to change careers? Take our quiz to find out what kind of job to pursue according to your skill set. 

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Dr Amanda Allisey
Dr Amanda Allisey

Lecturer, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University

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