When Is the Right Time to Move on From a Role?

Career path

With job vacancies at an all-time high in Australia, and employers now said to be more inventive and open-minded to filling roles, due to the skills shortage, it’s a great time to be in the workforce.

“These factors are creating a buoyant career market, which is good news for employees thinking about embarking on their next career step,” says Michelle Gibbings, a workplace specialist and author of Bad Boss: What to do if you work for one, manage one or are on. “So, if you’re sitting at work and feeling stuck, now might be the perfect time to embark on a career leap.”

If that’s you, or even if you haven’t considered moving on from your current role until reading this right now, you’ll find Gibbings’ advice helpful. Ahead, she shares the four things to think about before and during taking that next step in your career.

Know Your Career Drivers

First things first: when identifying your next career step, it’s best to do this in the context of what you want out of life, explains Gibbings.

“People have different hopes and aspirations for their careers and therefore differ in what motivates their career choices,” she says. “For example, you may be seeking a career that is:

  • “Highly stable and secure, with set working hours and high flexibility; or
  • Well paid, senior level and highly challenging; or
  • Provides learning opportunities and overseas travel.”

Identifying your career drivers helps set the scene for the environment you want to work in, the type of work you want to do, and how much effort and energy you are willing to apply to make it happen, Gibbings says.

Don’t Lock in Too Early

Next, you’ll want to be cautious about getting fixated on one career path or specific role, and locking yourself in too early. When you do, you can inadvertently close yourself off to other opportunities, Gibbings explains.

Related: 3 High-Flying Women on How They Got Their Roles and Their Best Career Advice

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“People frequently find the alignment between their purpose and what they are good at by trying many different things,” she says. “Consequently, be willing to experiment with options. Volunteer and get involved in other activities, and constantly seek new learning.”

“Life is all about the experience, and so too is your career. The more you travel, network, are involved with groups, and test and try new things, the greater your ability to see the diverse opportunities available.”

Gibbings says that by talking to a range of people about their work, you’ll gain insights into new areas that will help expand your field view. This is all about expanding the range of what’s possible, so you can discover what may be the best next step for you.

Be Willing to Take a Risk

“Pursuing your dream next job can come with risks,” says Gibbings. “It can be easier to go with the flow and follow what everyone else is doing. Taking a path that others haven’t taken means you need to get comfortable with ambiguity, often make some tough choices, and back yourself — even when it’s hard and progress may be slow.”

It’s also important to expect that there will be people around you who question your choice and challenge your thinking, Gibbings notes. Don’t let their fears throw you off course or their expectations hold you back. Expectations can drive you to hold fixed views on what you ‘should’ do.

However, accepting a role just because you ‘should’ won’t likely make for a fulfilling career. The more you are willing to take a risk and ‘have a go’, the more likely you’ll find your next step rewarding.

Expect There Will Be Trade-Offs

When Gibbings herself decided to leave the corporate world, she walked away from the security of a high-paying corporate salary into the unknown of running a business. But, she says, she was willing to take that risk and make the accompanying trade-off to pursue a career change that aligned with her aspirations.

“Life is a series of choices; often, doing one thing requires you to give up something else,” she says. “For example, you may be willing to move to another location because the role is a great learning opportunity and provides the stepping-stone for your next big career leap.”

“American author Mark Twain once said: ‘Success is a journey, not a destination. It requires constant effort, vigilance and re-evaluation’. His comment equally applies to one’s career. Every career step has good and bad parts, and highs and lows. What counts is how you show up every day and your actions to keep yourself on your best career path.”

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