Career Focus – What Price Happiness? How to Manage a Poor Career Move.

Published: 6 March 2012

Be it for economic reasons or a conflict of professional values, the decision to change roles out of necessity not desire is an important one, many times magnified when it is a successive move in short order. As some tentative stability returns to the market many people are facing up to a stark reality; was the move I made in the down turn the right long term choice?

Matt Cockbill, Partner and Head of Technology & EMI Practices at Berwick Partners shares some perspectives on how to ensure the mark of a bad move doesn’t indelibly stain your career.

Act decisively not quickly.

Remaining unhappy in a role is destructive. It affects your productivity and your success rate.  Leaving on a high is a subjective statement; it’s all relative, but making sure that you complete your obligations to the best of your ability will ensure you have ‘scores on the doors’ to go to market with, and you move on knowing you have done your best. Irrespective of the work environment, a stronger sense of satisfaction in the quality of your own work will positively impact your view of the present, and support your effectiveness at those critical meetings and interviews in your new role search activity.

Audit yourself, your role and shape a clear understanding of what you want from the next job.

Revisit the drivers and factors upon which you originally evaluated the role. After all it’s fine to change your mind. But be brutally honest with yourself and be clear why you have shifted your position. A clean and clear understanding of why you aren’t happy will be crucial to managing difficult interview questions. It will also give you 20:20 clarity on the future and prevent you from repeating the mistake.

Own the Outcome.

Barring unfortunate grievances, or negative and inappropriate actions of others, hold yourself to account and own the problem as well as the solution. Actively resolving unhappiness in your career  is a good thing. Who made the bold choice – the person who ground out an extra year of service for the sake of the CV, or the person that showed good self awareness, and acted upon it in a structured and reasoned manner? No brainer.

Understand your Skills

Working to the assumption that we all go to work to do a good job, it is important that we each understand how we each add value. Often the tasks we enjoy are not necessarily the things we are best at. Striking the right balance is key. Seek to put yourself in a position that enables you to do your best. In truth it could be considered negligent to remain in a position where you are unable to deliver to your best. The market will find your candour refreshing and be assured by it. So many people suffer a situation for far too long for the sake of a perceived view of continuity within their resume.

Consider the Full Package

Look beyond the numbers. Innumerable surveys consistently show that strong reward only salves a certain amount of pain. So really review the full deal; the company, the strategy, the culture, the team, the manager, the market, and of course the role. Take it all in, and use it to evaluate each of the offers in front of you.

I am a firm believer that careers are not linear. The volatility of the market and economic uncertainty has manifestly changed job search behaviours. As ever it’s different strokes for different folks. Such decisions are governed by a panoply of social, moral and ethical factors, alongside the professional demands of any given sector or discipline. Meeting the issues head on with candour and preparation will ensure your interviews focus upon the all important achievements you have delivered, and the value you have generated. Everyone is allowed a mistake, just don’t make it a habit. .

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