It's not an assumption, but a statistical fact. At the start of the new year: job searches do go up, dramatically. According to job site Indeed.com, over 50% of US workers were thinking about changing careers in January 2016.
I have some personal experience of how this feels. Last year I made the bold move of moving to New Zealand from the UK. I arrived in Wellington on New Year’s Eve with just myself and a suitcase. After working for the same company in London for six years and having recently completed the CareerFoundry UX design course, I was in need of a new challenge. Don’t get me wrong - I loved the company I was working for. I just felt the need to step outside of my comfort zone and do something really different!
So what happens during the vacation period to make people want a new job, or even a completely new career? Well, it seems to be a ‘new year, new me’ phenomenon. Finding a new job is a common New Year’s resolution, along with decisions such as giving up smoking or losing weight. Read on to learn why!
This year I feel really lucky to not fall into this bracket - I love my job working as a UX analyst in Auckland. I get to work on some really interesting projects as part of Datacom’s Digital Experience team. However, I know plenty of people who aren’t as happy at work, and I understand why they feel this way and how difficult it can be to actually make that change.
I recently went on a road trip around the South Island of New Zealand with a friend I’ve known since school, and had time to think about how much our lives have changed. We've both taken big leaps of faith. This time last year we were both living with boyfriends in London and working in London’s Central Business District. Now we are both single and living in New Zealand - very welcome changes for both of us.
Sometimes it takes a vacation, whether a road trip, Christmas, or a summer holiday to give you some distance from the office and give you time to properly reflect, evaluate, and research what else you could do with your life.
Let's face it, we spend a lot of time at work - it has been estimated as high as 35% of our total waking hours over a fifty year working life.
Who wants to spend 35% of their time doing something that isn’t right for them? It just shows how important it is to find a career that is right for you - and that it's probably not too late to try something new.
On that note, here are some key signs that it may be time for a change of job, career, and maybe even country:
1) I haven't progressed professionally
In a study of millennials by Deloitte, the opportunity to progress was second only to work-life balance in terms of most important things at work. However research by Salary.com states that a staggering 60% of people feel like they have no opportunity for advancement.
- Am I motivated at work?
- Am I in the same place I was a year ago?
- Are there any opportunities for promotion?
If you've realized that you want to progress - speak to your manager first. They might be happy to hand over more responsibility to you, and give you the opportunity to demonstrate your ability. You can also seek out people you admire and use them as a sounding board to discuss your options.
These don’t necessary have to be people you work with or see on a regular basis, or even people in the same industry as you. I’ve had some great mentors throughout the last few years ranging from Jo Harley, MD of Employee Engagement experts Purple Cubed, to my CareerFoundry mentor Sophie Lephinoy, to my current colleagues at Datacom where we have a great internal network and place a big emphasis on collaborative thinking. There is no way I would have been able to progress at work without speaking to all of these people.
2) I've stopped learning new skills
Successful people never stop learning. In a recent study by Accountemps, 30% of CFOs said that motivation to learn new skills is essential to doing well at work.
However if things are busy at work sometimes learning can fall by the wayside.
- Is there anything stopping me from doing my job better?
- Am I given time to learn new things?
- Do I have regular chats about my development with my manager?
Training doesn’t need to be expensive or take a lot of time - there are hundreds of online resources to choose from. If you think there is something missing from your skill set, speak to your manager and try and arrange some study time during your working week.
They may be more flexible than you think. When I first started my CareerFoundry UX design course, my work were really supportive and allowed me to devote one afternoon per week to studying. This made all the difference to me - the recommended study time per week for the CareerFoundry course is eight hours, so I only needed to find an additional four hours each week after work.
3) I'm putting work before my health
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America a shocking 40% of workers experience persistent stress or excessive anxiety in their daily lives. Over half of these people say it affects their relationships with coworkers and peers.
- Do I feel stressed or lacking in energy?
- Do I get enough sleep?
- Am I eating healthily?
- Do I spend too much time sitting down?
It is very easy to forget to look after yourself when busy or stressed. People cope with stress in different ways from overeating, to binge drinking, to not making time to exercise. I worked from home a lot when I lived in London and some days I barely left my house so I wasn’t getting enough exercise.
After spending all day by myself sat at a computer, I’d be craving social contact so I’d meet my friends at the pub, stay up late and drink far too much. Then the next day I’d cure my hangover with fattening food and caffeine.
I’ve made some small lifestyle changes since moving to New Zealand and feel much better for it. I walk everywhere, I’ve found an exercise class I love, and my diet is much healthier. These changes have made my working life much easier as I have much more energy and more desire to succeed.
4) I've been missing out on spending quality time with people I care about
Rachel Ritlop, the ‘Confused Millennial’ says that many people struggle to adapt to the ‘daily grind’ after finishing their studies and can end up in roles with all work and no play.
- Can I remember the last time I enjoyed myself?
- Am I constantly checking my work emails?
- Am I always making excuses to family and friends about why I’m not with them?
If this sounds like you, look into ways to improve your work-life balance. The world is slowly coming around to more flexible working patterns so it may be worth asking if there are any more suitable shifts for you or if you can work from home on certain days.
If there isn’t much room for flexibility, use some of that vacation time to research different jobs or careers. This interesting report by Glassdoor shows the top twenty professions for work-life balance. Now - without being biased - UX designer was ranked in 2nd place.
Successful UX designers come from many different backgrounds, and these skills are very in-demand at the moment. If you're interested in this career path, check out my blog post on what qualifications you need to become a UX designer.
5) I’d like to spend more time doing things I enjoy
Most successful people have hobbies that they are passionate about. This enables them to switch off and forget about work for a while, recharging their batteries and making them happier, healthier, and more productive in the process.
Warren Buffett loves playing bridge, Richard Branson is a kitesurfing fan, and Bill Wyman, former bassist of the Rolling Stones is a dab hand with a metal detector.
Some lucky people also manage to earn big bucks from their hobbies, for example, celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Emilio Estefan, Serena and Venus Williams and Fergie all own shares in the American football team, the Miami Dolphins.
- Do I have any hobbies outside of work besides watching TV or seeing friends?
- Is there something that I am particularly good at that I haven’t done in ages, e.g. gardening, painting, or playing the violin?
- Are these hobbies something to be enjoyed in my spare time or could I incorporate them into my work?
First of all decide if your side-project is something that you want to make a career or if you want to keep it as a hobby. A lot of these are better left as side-projects. For many people work-life balance is a continuous, well, balancing act and you just need to make sure that you actually make the time for the things you enjoy.
However, if you think your hobby is transferrable to the workplace, ask your manager if you can combine your own projects with work. You should prepare yourself with a business case, including at least three reasons why this will benefit the business, before you have the conversation!
And finally... the one you should really listen to:
6) I'm really dreading going back to work
Salary.com states that 43% of people are not happy in their current jobs.
- Are you already thinking of how to avoid going back to work?
- Are you constantly clock-watching from as soon as you get there?
- Do you feel like the odd one out, or feel that you don’t want to interact with your colleagues?
If this is you, don’t despair. Don’t rush into anything radical such as quitting your job. Take time to analyze why you are so unhappy at work. Writing a list of what you don’t like, or keeping a diary once you get back to work can help with that.
Once you have more of an idea of what the issues are, try and find solutions to what you don’t like. Work out if it is the role, your company, or the industry that you are unhappy with. Do some online research into different options. Speak to friends and contact people you know on Linkedin in different industries and jobs you are interested in.
Just researching these different options will make you feel a lot more positive and will be the starting point for you putting together an action plan for a fabulous 2017.
If this sounds a lot like you, or even if you've simply decided that 2017 is the year to transform your career - learn about the UX design, UI design, web development, and iOS app development courses on offer at CareerFoundry.
You may even decide to speak to your employer about taking some time from your work schedule to study; skills like UX design, UI design, and coding are so in-demand, you might be surprised that your employer is happy for you to start learning and applying these new skills.