By: Rebecca Fraser-Thill

Are you considering making a career change in the New Year?  WIL can support you.  As part of our mission to help place women into leadership roles.

When I ask my career coaching clients their ideal timeline for leaving their job, regardless of the time of year I ask, “by the new year” is a common answer. The turn of the calendar makes many of us itchy for a fresh start – even if only about a quarter of us actually make New Year’s resolutions.

The question is: is making a job change early in the new year realistic? Or is the quitting urge simply a fantasy?

Here are two questions I ask clients to see how close to a realistic “I quit!” moment they actually are, and the steps they take to move from fantasy to actuality.

Do You Know Exactly What “Better” Consists Of?

This is often the question that derails the “job in the new year” fantasy.

“Anything is better than my current job,” isn’t an actionable answer. That approach typically leads to a “stop gap” job change that is “better” – at least for a short while – but that doesn’t address the underlying root causes of disappointment at work.

Until we can articulate precisely what’s missing in our current work and have some sense of what we’re striving toward on a bigger level (e.g., career goals, purpose, desired impact), we’ll be moving from one unfulfilling role to the next.

Getting clear on precisely what you’re looking for and why does take some time – typically about three months for one of my clients – but doing so pays deep dividends in satisfaction, staying power, and sense of direction.

Have You Been Watching Industry and Macroeconomic Trends?

There’s a time for everything and when it comes to job change, the context helps dictate when that time may be.

Certainly some people can and do make changes in every industry at any time – even when an industry is struggling or contracting and/or when the larger economy is uncertain or even imploding. Given this, it’s easy to see a friend or acquaintance announce a job change on LinkedIn and think, “I should do that, too!”

That might be true.

That said, we want to set realistic expectations for ourselves so that we don’t desperately grab the first offer that comes our way. In my experience, during a time of sector and/or economic contraction, many job openings exist for a reason.

For one, it may not be a fulfilling, sustainable role. Burnout and/or layoff tend to follow soon after accepting a role like that one.

Or the skills requirement is highly niche, and unless you are lucky to have that exact set of skills, you’ll never be in the running anyway.

For instance, in late 2022 most tech and finance orgs are either frozen in hiring, only hiring very particular skill sets, or backfilling roles that are necessary but, for valid reasons, no one wants to stay in.

All in all, before you mark your new year with a new job, be sure you’re aware of what’s actually happening around you. If it’s a time of uncertainty and change, finding high-quality roles may take longer and will certainly require more legwork, such as networking thoughtfully.

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