Work out why your current job makes you unhappy
If returning to work after the Christmas break has left you feeling unmotivated, rather than raring to go, then it could be time to move on. But first it is important to identify whether your dissatisfaction is temporary or seasonal.
“January can certainly feel a bit flat after the holidays, but if you’ve been thinking for a while that you need to make positive changes in your career, then it’s unlikely to be a seasonal whim,” says Corinne Mills, managing director of career coaching company Personal Career Management.
Having time to unwind over Christmas often helps people decide what they want for the year ahead, Mills says. “Career dissatisfactions are often suppressed during your normal working week because you don’t have time to think about it. But if you have some time away, those unconscious thoughts come to the fore.”
To ensure you are moving for the right reasons, evaluate the options you have with your current employer, says Andrew Fennell, director of CV writing service StandOut CV. “Decide what is making you unhappy in your role and reach out to your line manager to ask if there are any progression opportunities that could improve your situation. If they really can’t offer you what you want, then maybe it’s time to look elsewhere,” he says.
Make time to go over your options
When you are stuck in the grind of a job you dislike, it can be hard to find the time and headspace to work out what you want to do instead. Before you start your search for a new job or career, it is important to invest some time “getting to know yourself”, suggests Lis McGuire, founder of CV writing service Giraffe CVs. “It might seem tricky, uncomfortable or uncertain, but it’s worth doing. You have the answers, you just need to access them. Knowing what you really want will save time, effort, and heartache in the long run.”
Sarah Byrne, who works for career change company Careershifters, suggests taking a small daily action towards a career change. This can “help get the ball rolling without making you feel overwhelmed”. An action could take as little as 10 minutes and easily be squeezed into a lunch break or commute.
“Typically, a 10-minute action could include emailing a contact who works in a field of interest; finding a local or online short course in an area you are considering; lining up a time to speak with a contact,” she says. “Often people wait for the perfect free weekend to come when they can spend lots of time on the change. In reality, it’s small, consistent actions taken on a daily basis that prove to be the most helpful.”
When thinking about a new career, it can be helpful to look ahead to the end of the year, says Jon Gregory, recruitment expert and editor of win-that-job.com. “What would you like to be doing for a job at that point? Is that with your current employer, or a new one? Define your ideal, but keep things realistic.”
Do your research
When it comes to job hunting, the more information you arm yourself with, the better position you will be in to make a decision. “Write up a wish list of what you want – and what you don’t want,” says McGuire. “Research roles, speak to people who work in your target field, and even get some work experience if you can.”
Lydia Fairman, an HR specialist and owner of Fairman Consulting, suggests making a plan of action. “Know what you’ve got, what you want and why you want it, and you’ll quickly be able to identify potential employers and companies that’ll deliver on your next career goals.” She also says it is worth keeping track of who you have contacted and when, so you can stay on top of it all.
Ask for help
If you are having doubts about your current role, or feeling uncertain about what to do next, it can be helpful to talk through your options with a confidant. “Find support, either through existing friends and family, coaches and mentors, or by connecting with people in the new fields you are considering who may be happy to help you with their insights and knowledge,” says Sophie Graham, a careers adviser for the National Careers Service.
Victoria McLean, founder of City CV, a CV writing and career coaching service, suggests finding potential contacts in the industry you want to move into through social networks and events. “Join relevant LinkedIn groups, ask questions and meet people for coffee to have informational interviews. Networking is the way forward,” she says.
Focus on quality, not quantity
The coming of a new year may have given you the kickstart you need to find a new job. But before you over-zealously start applying for jobs, do not forget the importance of a clean, well-edited application and CV. “Focus on quality,” says Fairman. “Tailor all applications, even speculative, to the company and job you’re applying for. Avoid ‘one click apply’ buttons and fill in forms fully, to show you’re committed to every application,” she suggests.
Take your time
Once you have decided you want to leave, the often long process of finding a new job – and the rejection that comes with it – can be demoralising. Gregory says it is important to take the pressure off. “Maintain your motivation by laying out a realistic timetable for the next few months to get you through the stages of searching, applying, interviewing and serving your notice. That might take up to four months, or even longer for some, so don’t beat yourself up on day two for not yet having a new job,” he says.
While you are waiting, it’s a good idea to tidy up your personal brand online and do things that will boost your CV. “Stay relevant by updating your skills, knowledge and experience whenever possible,” says Lisa LaRue, a career coach at coaching company CareerWorx.