Should you leave your job? Four questions to help you decide.
On the most important things you should consider if you are thinking about moving forward in your career.
If you thought that everyone would hold on to their jobs because of the pandemic-induced recession, think twice.
Many people started questioning their own career because of the pandemic. Some experienced extreme distress because of the transition to remote working and decided to search for a better employer or a different setup. Others took it as an opportunity to ask themselves big questions on their careers and to search for a job more aligned to who they are. Many others, scared of being laid off soon, preferred planning ahead the departure from their current job.
Proactively switching jobs or even careers during the pandemic is not as unrealistic as it sounds. For professionals in specific industries, this could actually be a great time to step up.
It does require a careful analysis of how successfully you can manage the change right now and of what your market niche needs in these times.
Here’s 4 essential questions that can help you evaluate more accurately whether this is the right time for you to leave your job:
1 / Are your capacities in demand?
In western economies the recession is hitting mostly gathering-based industries (tourism, entertainment, gastronomy, etc) and poorly skilled professionals. If you have valuable hard skills and a good enough track record, you might want to check jobs which require your capacities.
There is a reason why I am asking about your capacities and not necessarily about your profession. Searching for a new professional experience is all about transferrable skills — those capacities that are relevant for more than one field. For example, if you have an experience with PR, your writing capacities can be valuable also in content writing positions, within Marketing units. It’s important to define yourself with a clear professional title (“Full stack developer”, “Digital Marketing specialist”, “Project Manager”, etc), but it is as important to be able to break that title down in a simple list of valuable skills. You can then browse job openings to see to what extent those skills are in demand and whether you would be an attractive offer to the job market.
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2 / How many people in your field are searching for a job?
In other words: who is your competition?
I keep saying to my clients — being in a recession doesn’t mean that there are no jobs out there (even though that is true for some of the industries). It means that there are many more unemployed/furloughed people searching for a job, and that the competition has increased.
Differently than in the pre-pandemic era, we are now in an employer’s market: many more candidates for each job. It doesn’t mean that everyone who applies is relevant, but that does lower the chances that your CV will stand out in the recruiter’s eyes, that you will called for an interview and that you will eventually get hired. It really doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to land a job, but it can mean that it will take longer.
If you are interested in a very specific niche, you might want to re-evaluate that and broaden your scope. Your skills might be valuable for fields you didn’t even consider so far, and that might be an interesting challenge for you.
3 / Do you have enough money to stay a few months without an income?
Before the pandemic, it took an average of eight to ten weeks to find a job in most western countries. Following up on the previous point, the abundance of candidates for each position makes it more difficult to stand out, and therefore the job search process takes more time. Also if you are looking into opening your own business or working as a freelancer, it takes time to penetrate the market, unless you have already a valuable capital to leverage — social (potential clients) or financial (money to invest in your venture).
It would be wise to spend some time on an excel file, do some proper math and understand exactly for how long you can stay without an income — and what compromises are you willing to take if you reach the deadline.
4 / Do you have the bandwidth needed to adapt to your new job?
Whatever your next step will be, in most cases you will have to acquire new skills or knowledge, or at least learn how the organization that just hired you works.
Most of us search for a new job when we feel that the current job doesn’t provide us with opportunities for professional or personal growth, hoping that the new one will be more challenging. In the best case, you will start a new job and you will have to undergo some training or upskilling. In more complex cases, you will have to figure out yourself how to succeed in your new endeavor, sometimes with little to no mentoring. Even before you start applying for job, you might decide to attend an online course or certificate to professionalize or just to add an impressive line to your CV.
You cannot make progress in your career without a solid piece of learning, in whatever shape that might happen. Entering a job search or a career change process with the expectations of simply transferring your current capacities from one space to another is not realistic.
In the long term, it might also become quite frustrating. Even if you get a job because of your experience, skills and expertise — there will be some learning and adapting to do. If you are not open to experimenting with new working routines, management styles, workplace cultures, etc — you are not in the right spot for a change.
Moving forward in your career doesn’t have to be a stressful experience, but it can be if it’s done in an impulsive way. Change always has to be managed, especially career changes, especially with so much uncertainty around us.
While deciding to move forward in your career can be exactly the right thing to do for you, take some time to consider the four questions I outlined here. Take it as a reality check: if it leads you into leaving your current job, you will do so with more confidence; if you will decide to delay your big move — the effort spent in the due diligence will feel even more fruitful.