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The Six Stages of Changing Your Job

Career Change | MagazineMany of us start our lives with positive, if somewhat ambitious, ideas about what we want to be when we grow up. We morph into idealistic teenagers convinced we are going to change the world and that we are never, ever going to do a boring normal job like everyone’s parents do. You may have received careers advice of varying degrees of usefulness throughout your education, including dad wisdom, but when you are young, impressionable and still have a chance, no-one tells you the real truth about the world of work.

Fast forward several years or even decades, into your career and regardless of success levels achieved, chances are you work in a job so far removed from your childhood dreams that ten year old you wouldn’t have known it existed. And you now know that achieving success is not quite as simple as school careers advisors (and job centre staff) make it sound. If you have not experienced any of these situations in your adult working life, then you either have an expansive trust fund or you are a robot.  

1. Uncomfortably Comfortable


You struggle every morning to get out of bed at the time you know you are meant to, every day, not just the mornings after the slightly too late night before. You get in the car/bus/train and spend the commute wishing you were going somewhere, anywhere else. Your weekend starts with that great Friday feeling of freedom, but by Sunday 4pm, your mood is foul because you are already worrying about the dreaded Monday Morning. Any time a friend asks about how your work is going, you either sigh, roll your eyes and change the subject or you accidentally launch into an hour’s moaning about your colleague’s irritating way of talking on the phone.  

But you still keep soldiering on, telling yourself that you’re not meant to be happy at work, you have to do it to earn money and at least you know what you’re doing here so why upset the balance? Changing anything would take even more effort and right now all your energy is taken up hating the job you’re in.

2. Lightbulb Moment

Until…the switch flicks one day and you decide you:  Have. Had. Enough. It may be triggered by a particular incident like your borderline psychopathic boss tearing another strip off you in front of the rest of the workforce yet again or someone else has used your special mug for the third time. Sometimes you just reach the tipping point of a gradual build-up of minor things; one too many overly demanding customers using the phrase ‘’do you know how much money I spend here’’, the realisation that you actually are mind-numbingly bored of the work you are contracted to do or that you finally understand that you are outside the sacred inner circle of those receiving the promotions and pay rises, despite your best efforts.  

The lightbulb moment is when you realise that you just cannot handle looking at these faces/walls/company vision statements any more and there has to be another way of easing the misery of your life. Suddenly you do have the energy to embark on the marathon hunt for A New Job.

3. Obsessive-Compulsive

For this phase, even Facebook goes on the backburner as your quest begins. You start sitting in your car at lunchtime instead of the tearoom so that no-one you work with can see that you are looking at job adverts and just in case you want to phone one (even though you know it’ll be weeks before you see one even vaguely worth going for). Your entire evenings are spent on the home computer trawling through every recruitment website you can think of, changing every search filter numerous times and then noticing that the same borderline scam sales job is advertised at least 10 times on each site. And despite narrowing the search to within 50 miles of your home, you still get endless adverts for jobs based in the opposite end of the country to you.

You become addicted to searching every day, ready to pounce into action when the perfect job comes up. Well, the first one that actually lists the same skills and qualifications as you possess and might realistically be obtainable. These normally come around once every six weeks or so. The rest of your time is spent double checking exactly the same adverts you read yesterday just to make absolutely sure that you have not missed anything.

Then, when a job worth applying for suddenly appears, it dawns on you that your C.V. is not up to date.

4. Waiting Game

So, you’ve put a couple of applications out there and you are now waiting for an invitation to interview. The tension is made worse by the knowledge that you probably won’t get a response at all, but continue repeating to yourself: you’ve got to be in it to win it, right? While wondering how long past the closing date should you wait to not hear anything before you cross that application off as unsuccessful.

When you hear your current co-workers griping, you try not to smile because you know you have privately put your escape plan into motion. This is when you properly start daydreaming about the most dramatic way to hand your notice in. You know that the actual moment will be as mundane as the rest of your job – giving a letter to the manager, having a short awkward conversation and trudging back to your workstation for that final eternal month. In your head you are setting fire to the building, telling your colleagues exactly what you think of them completely uncensored and the big bosses are all on their knees, begging you to stay because the company cannot survive without you.

5. Panic Stations

When fate decides that you have been strung out long enough waiting for an actual reply from one of the by now many job applications you have emailed and posted off, you get the coveted letter offering: The Interview. Finally. Your initial response will be to feel chuffed, but it will quickly subside into panic. Panic thinks: what to wear, what to say, what was the job again, did I apply for the right one, why didn’t I save the original advert, how to get there, how much time should I allow to get there, what is the perfect time to arrive?

Panic thrives on situations with pressure and unknown quantities. Therefore by the time you do arrive the requisite 5 minutes early, your heart is bouncing around in your chest and you’re certain that anyone else nearby can hear it, your palms are way too sweaty for a proper handshake and your polyester black suit trousers are not the right material to soak up that palm sweat. While you are sitting waiting you will notice that you have toothpaste on your top/toddler snot on your shoulder/dog poo on your shoe/your flies are undone and all you can hope for now is that your trousers don’t fall down as you walk through the door.

Supposedly, the concept of interviews is not for the purpose of humiliating people yet you will leave the interview feeling one of two ways: either still squirming because the experience was so awful or completely clueless about your impact and success in there. Should you leave with a Good Feeling and they haven’t offered you the job there and then, you’ve probably gone spectacularly wrong somewhere.

6. Newbie

Eventually, you will complete your exhausting quest, land a new job and experience that feeling of leaving your workplace for the very last time. Congratulations! You have now become the Newbie. The first day involves the newbie walk as you shuffle around the building behind the supervisor on your ‘induction’. While they tell you about the fire escape plan, you know that really you are being paraded as the new exhibit. You can feel the eyes looking at you and you know that you are being talked about. At least at this point your new co-workers don’t know anything about you so have little fuel for gossip…so far.

Anyway, you have no idea where to go, what to do on your breaktimes, who to avoid or where the pens are kept. And despite years of training and experience, you feel like an absolute beginner because you are presented with a whole new software system to operate and it decides on the first morning that it doesn’t like you. Neither can you figure out how to put the paper in the printer and actually have to ask for help. Which will be given, slowly, patronisingly and with a pitying look.

As you sit there feeling inadequate and thinking that maybe your old job wasn’t so bad after all, console yourself that in about six months time, your colleagues might actually start considering you worthy enough to input your opinion, maybe even help on a problem they’re stuck with or if you really make a good impression; letting you in on the secret of what they actually do all day.

Ready to change your job? Not sure where to start? From a simple CV makeover to Interview Coaching or Career Counselling, at Coaching our professionals can help you get your career on the right track today. Click here to learn more or start a live chat now for a no obligation discussion.

Lowenna Roskilly
A general manager by the title of my last ‘proper job’ role, I’m now a 30 something rookie mother who took a career break to raise my child but accidentally ended up also looking after an elderly relative with advanced dementia at the same time. As my days are filled with answering the same five questions and reading the same two stories on a loop, I get so excited by normal adult conversation that I ruin it by doing all the talking. I’m great at giving advice, not so great at following it and really bad at asking others for help. I would love to be a great example of how a modern woman can have it all but the reality is when I go to bed each night (always way later than I intended) I am merely grateful that The Toddler and I have survived another day and if I got anything crossed off my enormous to-do list or actually earned any money, I award myself bonus points in the form of chocolate. Then get offended when someone tells me that I ‘should’ be skinny from running around after The Toddler all day. Maybe I should do a motivational sticker chart for myself? I'll add it to my to-do list!