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C—Career—Considering Making a Change?

When the windows of opportunity appear, don't pull down the shade.
UNKNOWN

Organizations are learning to respond to the demands of the global market by outsourcing, downsizing, and making acquisitions. This has had dramatic consequences for career-minded people. Loyalties are important but tend to be short-term. People need to be flexible and able to adapt themselves to constantly changing job situations.

  1. Here are some issues to think about as you contemplate your future in your organization:

    • What are my values? Your values are the things you appreciate in your relationship with your employer and fellow employees. Some are more important to you than others. These values include such things as honesty, integrity, fairness, and collegiality. When these core values are violated, you may lose your enthusiasm for the company and begin to perform poorly. Write your values down. Then compare them with those that are practised, not preached. When you consider moving to a new job, you need to find out how that organization measures up to your expectations.

    • What special skills and talents do I have? Keep an inventory of your talents and skills. Make a list of all the courses you have been to and how you may have applied the skills you were taught. Have you special skills that are not commonplace in the market? Think about the type of organization that might bend over backwards to have someone like you work for them.

    • How tolerant am I of risk? Changing jobs is always a risk. Think about the consequences of the job not working out. How would you feel about being unemployed for a few months? What kind of support do you have at home? What is the extent of your savings to tide you through a rough period? What are your most important needs? What are you looking for in a job? Is it the freedom to make decisions? A need for camaraderie? Security? Low stress? With some effort on your part, could you have your needs met more than they are at present? Or is another organization more capable of doing so?

    • What kind of job will release my highest energy endorphins? What gets you most excited? What type of job gets you excited each day when you get up? What situation will make you want to work long hours without feeling excessive fatigue?

    • What is my frustration tolerance? There will always be a period of adjustment in a new job. How well do you adjust to new situations? Can you "roll with the punches"? If so, you should be able to handle more frequent changes in your career.

  2. List what you enjoy about your career. Note what aspects of your job you enjoy. Do you like

    • your fellow workers?

    • the challenge?

    • the autonomy?

  3. If it is a struggle to find something you really like, you may need a change. List what you would like from your ideal career, no matter what field it might be in.

    • What rewards would it provide?

    • What sorts of jobs would you be doing?

    • How big an organization would you work for?

    • What kind of people would you work with?

    • What would the work environment be like?

  4. Compare the two lists. How many aspects of your ideal career are missing from your present job? How important are those aspects?

  5. List the most important needs that are not being met by your current job. Post this list in a prominent place, where you can refer to it often.

  6. Seek out information on other organizations, or other departments within your own company, that might give you more job satisfaction than you have now.

  7. Create a new list, one based on your career ideals and research, which states

    • your first choice of an organization and/or industry;

    • your second choice;

    • obstacles that must be overcome before moving to the new company or field;

    • steps towards overcoming these obstacles, with target dates.

  8. Picture yourself in your ideal job, then evaluate it carefully. List good points and bad, assigning a weight to each item. Add up your scores and decide if it's worth moving, or if you should stay in your present position.

  9. Fear of change is really fear of the unknown. Consider the worst that might happen. Is it worse than your present position? Then consider what the best possible outcome might be. Chances are the answer will charge you with the energy you need to proceed.

  10. If you get a job offer and are uncertain whether to accept it, get advice from people who

    • have won your trust;

    • demonstrate good judgement;

    • have themselves made a career change;

    • are impartial about the outcome.

  11. Make another list, focusing this time on what your ideal organization would offer in terms of

    • salary;

    • benefits;

    • hours of work;

    • location;

    • availability of transportation.

  12. Discuss your thoughts about career change with your life partner. Make sure that you will get moral support, and that both of you can tolerate the possibility of your being jobless for a period.

  13. Find a mentor with whom to discuss your ideas. Have him or her act as a sounding board.

  14. Get career counselling. A professional may put you through some tests that will determine your suitability for another career, or may recommend that you stay within your current specialty, even though you may want to change employers.

  15. Invest in some self-help books. These often have exercises that will help you arrive at conclusions about your career of which you may not have been aware.

CHANGE DURING A TAKEOVER

Be prepared for changes thrust on you in the event of a re-organization, a re-engineering exercise, or a takeover. Here's what to expect in a takeover:


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