Should I put career change on hold?
Q: I was planning a career change. Well, when I say ‘planning’, it was more ‘thinking about it’ than anything else. I had a general idea that I would not be in my current field by the end of 2021, and I was starting to look around at options, courses and so on. Now I feel like battening down the hatches and sitting tight. What would your advice be? (ER, email).
A: That is such a personal decision that it would be impossible for me to give you solid advice in this forum – what I can do, though, is offer you some insights I have gleaned from dealing with people who have previously been where you are now, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.
In the aftermath of the last economic collapse, many people hunkered down. What they had, they held. They may not have been enamoured of their roles but they deployed the ‘bird in the hand’ approach to their career development.
I feel this went on for about five years. Then more and more started to come out to play again, and pursued new career options or sought new roles within their existing fields.
This was best summarised by a client of mine who told me “I’m fed up being fed up”.
Career change tends to be extremely difficult to navigate, and the ‘bird in the hand’ model tells most people that they should sit tight during time of crisis. However, crisis can also force you to change, if your current position vanishes or diminishes, but it doesn’t sound like that applies to you right now, ER.
Set your priorities
I think you need to decide what really matters to you at the moment. Is the guarantee (such as it may be) of regular income the most important thing to you? Or have you deep pockets to weather the storm?
If you’re in a long-term relationship, where does your partner sit in terms of work? Mortgages, other loans, children?
Might both of you hunker down, or can your partner hold the fort while you look around to see if you can establish greater career satisfaction somewhere else?
There is a mixture of pragmatism and ambition required here, but only you can decide how exactly to leaven that mix. I have seen people make quick and effective career changes during times like this, but those generally occurred when change was thrust upon them by a job loss or business closure.
Allow time for change
Career change usually takes quite a while to execute.
It sounds as if you have some road left in your current position and the very fact that you are querying the possibility of making a move suggests to me that you are poised to hunker down.
If you do, you may wonder when the tide will rise sufficiently to inspire a move down the line. It could well be a number of years before there is a general lifting of the boats – but in any career move, it is important to remember that while thousands may be out of work, you are only seeking one job.
You are not the economy. You are your own economy. Staying positive while the bad news falls will be a vital weapon in the times that lie immediately ahead. That’s one lesson we certainly learned during the last downturn.
Liam Horan is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers in Ballinrobe.
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