It’s the first working day of the year for many of us. And I suspect it will seem like hard work. After a fun break with friends and family, today we hit the “real world” head on. Whether it’s the realisation of just how much you really did spend on your credit card or the pain of yet another uncomfortable commute the chances are by 5pm today you will be saying: “enough’s enough”.
January is a time for change. Whether it’s that crash diet you’ve been meaning to go on for months, joining a gym or any number of other well-intentioned “New Year’s Resolutions”. And for many it is time to think about changing job. If that includes you then just stop and think before you leap.
Are you running away rather than moving ahead?
Many people find it far easier to list what is wrong with their current job than be specific about what a new, satisfying job will look like. Good career choices are rarely made in flight mode. You just grab the first opportunity that comes along. So, chances are, by next January you will be back here again. With another list of gripes… You need to be clear what you are running towards – including that vital “walk away” list. Don’t get carried away by the fact somebody else is prepared to offer you a job and jump from the frying pan…
Don’t listen to the ads on TV…
Yesterday was awash with ads from job boards promising thousands of new jobs every day. For them recruitment is a numbers game – so don’t play it. Nothing will make you more depressed than randomly applying for dozens and dozens of jobs and never hearing a peep out of the advertisers.
When did you last use your network?
You know, those people you sent the electronic equivalent of Christmas cards to. The hidden job market is enormous. According to some researchers, for every job that gets openly advertised there are another four out there somewhere. So, use January to talk to people you know and trust – rather than pinging CVs into electronic black holes. Make quality, informed applications.
Is your CV up to scratch?
It is an easy trap to fall in to. Scratch around and find the one you wrote two, three or more years past. Just add your latest job and away you go… Chances are that CV wasn’t so great. And the years may not have been kind to it. Plus, all that stuff about what you did at school and university becomes less important as the years go past. It is now all about what outcomes you’ve achieved at work – and not the tasks you do each day. What employers want to understand is the value you bring that others can’t.
And on that note – know your worth! And the price of happiness…
Are you well paid or exploited in your current job? How would you know? If you want a complete change of career direction will that demand a pay cut in the short term? Being well-paid and doing a job you love may not be the same thing.
Most careers require compromises. Few of us ever “have it all”. We have to adapt to the consequences of our choices or condemn ourselves to another year of complaining.
Which brings me neatly to my own New Year’s resolution. This year I am going to research the whole area of work-life integration. I hate the word “balance”. Integration is far better – ie it recognises that there is a fundamental trade-off between the demands of career and wider life choices. And that the situation is fluid, not fixed. How we combine life and work is formula we all have to work out for ourselves.