No Job = New Career?

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Why leaving a job isn’t the end of the world.

It’s not easy to admit that the time has come to move on from a job, especially if it’s one that you loved for the greater portion of your time there. It’s even more difficult to know what to do next.

Much like recognizing that a relationship has come to its end, recognizing when your job has run its course can be difficult. It can be fraught with stress, anger, bargaining and what-ifs. If only your boss had let you work on that project! If only the company had changed its strategic direction!

Endings are never easy, and they’re rarely pretty. As I recognized it was time for me to move on from my job earlier this year, the thought of actually acting on my desires was terrifying. Here’s how I approached the problem to finally reach a decision, and landed in a job that I love:

Can you financially just Quit your job?

Walking away from a stable income is terrifying. Even more so if you have a mortgage/rent to pay, among other outgoings. This can be some people’s single reason to stay in a job they no longer love for much longer than they want or need to. Before you throw your arms up in the air and say “I quit!” take a moment to financially assess how long you can actually live with no incoming salary. I was able to give myself a 2 week window in which to find a new job, which actually made the whole process a little less terrifying and meant I didn’t feel the need to just jump on the first job I found. When you do have “that conversation” make sure you agree with your manager that you will be paid any notice as per your contract, and add up any outstanding holiday that you are owed, and make sure you agree that you will be paid what you’re due.

What could you do instead?

So, now you’ve decided to leave, you have to sit and think – What’s next? This is a really important step. Create a list (I love lists, who doesn’t?) of companies you would want to work for, try and keep to about 8-10, and then think about what you would bring to that company (another list could also be helpful here; think about what skills you have that are transferable to a new career). Make sure you know what you absolutely don’t want to do. If you know you want to step away from a particular industry, stick to your guns and make sure you don’t get dragged back in. Likewise, if you want to steer clear of certain companies, commit to that.

Network Network Network (but don’t register with 30 agencies)

What I mean is to use your network to get your word out. Update your LinkedIn profile showing you are actively looking for work, get in touch with contacts for companies you want to work for and reach out to them – these days, jobs aren’t just going to land on your lap, you’ve got to go out and find them!

Seek out and make contact with a decent recruitment consultancy. Now, before you all start reeling in terror at the phrase, please, I cannot stress enough how useful having a great recruitment consultant in your corner can be. Find a reputable consultancy who specialize in what you want to work in, and get your face in front of them. Talk to them about what you do and don’t want for your next career move, and they will be able to actively approach their client base and get your CV out to the right people. I’m not just saying this because I worked in the industry, but because if I hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t be working for one of my bucket list companies today.

Take the good with the bad (And don’t just take the first offer you get) 

So, You’re applying for jobs as per your list, dedicating time each day to job searching, networking, (don’t forget to dedicate some time for lunch and a shower.) and interviews. The worst part about job hunting these days? This:

Dear Applicant,

Thank you for applying for the position of xxxxx.

We regret to inform you that your application has been unsuccessful”

When you are job searching, this small, simple generic email can crush your soul.  My advice for these emails? If you really want more feedback, get onto LinkedIn and find the Hr manager, pop them a quick message asking them why your application got rejected – if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Most of the time, you will get a response.

Then move it to the trash folder and move on. Dwelling on the negatives will not do you any favors. The same goes for interviews. I had an interview for a role I knew I was perfect for. I aced the telephone interview, flew through the first and second stage, was left hanging for thee days only to then be told they had another person in the pipeline.

Did I dwell on it? Yes. For about an hour. Then I carried on.

No matter how desperate you are for a new job, make sure that when you do get a job offer, that it is the absolute right offer. Go back to those lists, and see how many things you can tick off –  if it’s right, it will feel right!

When you accept a job, it’s also worth checking that you don’t have any other interviews to go to, and if you do, PLEASE make sure you get in touch and cancel it properly, either on the phone or over an email. Take it from someone who has been on the other end of that email, recruiters, both internal and agency, will have much more respect for you if you tell them in advance and are just honest. If you just don’t turn up, simple – we wont consider your applications again – an unwise move considering in today’s market, all jobs can be temporary.

Facing Your Fears
Finally, ask yourself what the absolute worst thing is that could happen if you left your job without a plan, and what you could do to fix that situation if need be. Chances are, you’ve been mistaking this extreme worst-case scenario for your actual future.

When I first considered leaving my job, my greatest fear was not being able to financially sustain myself. However,  I soon realized I had enough saved up to support myself for a while, and that the fear was irrational.

I was also afraid to be unemployed because it meant I would no longer know how to answer the ubiquitous cocktail party question, “So what do you do?” But I realized that fearing that question meant I was mixing up my self-worth and identity with my employment status. Employment itself does not create value. Meaningful work creates value.

The biggest fear you’ll have to face, though, is actually working up the courage to quit. I, or anyone else, can tell you how amazing everything’s going to be once you finally pull the plug, but that actual moment of telling your boss “I’m leaving” is going to be terrifying. No article you read can make it less terrifying. Your heart will pound, your stomach will turn, you will feel fear and doubt, you will second-guess your decision. But either you face those 10 minutes of awkward, difficult conversation, or you face 10 years of silently hating your job.

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