In today’s job market, there is a lot of information that can leave one feeling very confused when considering a change in career. Is unemployment up, is it down? (Ask your favorite political party!). There are side hustles and the gig economy, an ideal work-life balance, flex schedules, when to ask for a raise – a million different things that can weigh you down when considering your next step in your career. I know from experience because I considered each and every one of these things and more as I weighed deciding to leave my long-term job last year.
I should get this out of the way first: I had an amazing, stable job for many years that afforded me promotions, raises, growth, excellent health benefits, flexible schedules, work-from-home opportunities, and many great bosses. But you don’t get amazing benefits like that without some trade-off, and my trade-off was a very hectic travel schedule (we’re talking multiple times a month on a plane), mounting stress and pressure, feeling tied to my work and devices 24/7, several bad bosses along the way and a growing staff which meant hiring, training and turnover in new cities every few months.
So, even though I had so many great benefits, I also knew in my heart and, more instinctively, my gut that it was time to move on. I actually began preparing for the move more than a year before I actually resigned. By recognizing that something was fueling me to look at a change, I was able to prepare for a change and explore my options. Here are a few things I did over that year:
- First and foremost, I began having conversations with people I trusted and admired. Some mentors, some that had blazed a similar path before more. I wanted to talk to people who could coach me and offer advice about my next steps. All were encouraging, realistic and helpful to help me reach my goals by narrowing down what I wanted, how to accomplish my goal and when I was being a bit unrealistic. Most importantly – they were trustworthy and kept our conversations in confidence.
- I began to update my LinkedIn page and the dreaded resume. I collected, read about and studied resumes and LinkedIn pages to write my own – it had been well over a decade since I’d written my own. One former colleague of mine is now a Communications Recruiter and she has some outstanding resources about writing LinkedIn pages and resumes – check out her page for those links!
- I began studying my husband’s health insurance plan and making sure that the move from my employer plan to his would have little impact. I know this is a luxury for those that are married or have partners that can cover them on their insurance, but take some time to understand other health insurance plans and options – it’s quite a web, and I learned a lot by studying and making calls to my providers.
By recognizing that I was restless in my current position, I knew that I needed to explore what life was like beyond what I’d known for so many years. And, in fact, it led me to options beyond just jumping into another job in my industry.
Thanks to my awesome mentors and trusted confidantes, I began exploring consulting and owning my own business. Of all the benefits in my job I enjoyed, the flexible hours and work-from-home options were the ones I treasured the most and so my next move was to explore life as an independent consultant.
I’ll save that story for next time!