Career Growth – What to Do If Now is Not the Time to Change Jobs

by | Nov 23, 2023 | 0 comments

This article was first published in my column at the Globe and Mail.

What if you are ready for a different career challenge and want to find a new role to level up your experience but are worried now is not the time to make a big change?

(Photo Courtesy of  Geralt on Pixabay)

Here are a couple of examples reflecting the kinds of conversations I’ve had with people in this dilemma.

“George” expressed some worry about the job market changing. With emerging reports about a downward shift in Canadians switching jobs, reflecting a softening in the labour market, this means that job seekers have less leverage than they did just a couple of years ago. With less confidence to go ahead, someone like George may wonder: Would it be prudent to leave a role where he has a reasonable sense of familiarity and some seniority?

“Irina” has concerns rooted in her personal circumstances. Her children are young, her partner is travelling more often for work and they have aging parents who are needing more care. While she wants more opportunities to grow her leadership experience, her worry is that she wouldn’t have the mental bandwidth or additional time to invest in a new role that could be more demanding.

“Not the right time” can be a personal perspective many people share at various points in their careers and life. Indeed, it might factor in the economic and market landscape, and even more saliently, one’s personal situation.

If it doesn’t quite feel like the right time, do you simply wait it out? This question does not have a singular answer. People will have different circumstances, goals and risk levels. Navigating career moves should always invite some thoughtful consideration to the process. There is lots to think about.

While statistics bring to light new realities to consider, they don’t necessarily reveal the entire picture. Some sectors and organizations might be hit harder than others. In many situations, there will often still be plenty of opportunities. Some people will have more tolerance for navigating higher levels of risk in new roles, as well as more capacity to handle the extra demands on their time.

If in the end, one decides ‘now is not the right time’ to change jobs, there are other ways to keep up the momentum with their career growth.

Grow where you are by setting new goals: There is often untapped potential to grow in the job you already have – and find ways to stay engaged. Years ago, one of my clients (“Max”) came to a crossroads in his career. He had been with the company for years and reached a point where there was no more progression for him – at least in terms of leadership roles that he wanted. He didn’t want to leave the company as he was due for a generous pension in a handful of years. We explored how he might get more career satisfaction without necessarily making a big role change. Out of this exploration, he discovered a passion for coaching and mentoring others. With this new insight, he set new goals to learn more about coaching and to start coaching people in his team. He loved it. A bit later, he became involved with the company in designing more formal mentor programs.

Goals can come in all shapes and sizes. Even tiny ones can spark one’s energy and motivation. As well, goals can bring new accomplishments, which can build confidence and be added into resumes and interview narratives – helpful for when the time is right.

Learn and grow: There’s always something new to learn and you don’t have to change jobs to do that. Beyond developing deeper technical skills, there is a range of learning within the vast array of human skills that are just as crucial in the workplace. One can always improve skills in communications, conversational abilities, leadership, adaptability, innovation and empathy.

Develop your network but modify your narrative: Some people hold back on networking when they are not looking for a new job. This is a mistake. It’s important to take the long view (careers are marathons). Networking is crucial to keep you continuously career-ready, whether you choose to be pro-active in seeking new opportunities, or for when you might be forced to.

Often, the best time to reach out to others is when you don’t need anything urgently. You can connect with others to learn about new possibilities, companies or paths for future considerations. Make sure you customize your narrative for where you are in your process (for example “I’m not looking for a new role just yet, but I am curious to learn more about (such and such) for potential future long-term planning.”)

Reciprocate and find ways to help others too. When the time is right for you to seek new opportunities, you’ll have greater potential to tap into your network for support.

The key is to remember that if now is not the right time for you to make a big job change, now is always the right time to invest in yourself and your career.

Eileen Chadnick, PCC, of Big Cheese Coaching, is an ICF credentialed, two-time ICF (International Coaching Federation) Prism award winner, who works with leaders (emerging to experienced), and organizations, on navigating, leading and flourishing in times of flux, opportunity and challenge. She is the author of Ease: Manage Overwhelm in Times of Crazy Busy.


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