Once you decide to change your career path or employer, you might realize that you are stuck with old habits and are not sure exactly what will make you happy at a new job. You feel you need a change, but you always seem to end up in the very same job you had before. Why is that happening? How can you gain freedom? What steps are needed to make the right decision?
It is actually very simple. It is all in your head.
Understanding your current and future career needs will help you set up career goals and make the right career decisions. I am surprised by how many people I spoke to actually do not know what they want and what their preferences are. Some of these people do not even ask themselves, “What is it that will actually make me happy?”.
Throughout your career, you may have worked at different jobs, gotten used to working with the same types of teams, and picked up some habits along the way. The idea of changing what you are used to scares you so much that you will likely end up at a very similar job, feeling unfulfilled yet again. Once you make the decision to change your job, you already know what you do not want at the new one. However, it does not necessarily mean that you know what you do want!
So what is it that is holding you back?
You really have to free yourself from everything negative you already know about your previous work environments, whether they were big corporations, emerging start-ups, small local businesses or multinational companies. Every company has different policies, visions, values and ideas. Every firm is different in its own way.
Switch off (start by closing your eyes and taking a deep breath) and start gaining new information without being affected by hard feelings from the past! You are living right here and now!
First of all, bringing hard feelings from previous experiences to an interview can lead you to get rejected or accept the wrong job offer. It could be tempting to accept an offer based solely on the fact that it is just different from your previous job. You might be really surprised to find out a year later that you still feel unhappy and unfulfilled. You will not understand why, but this will probably be the reason.
Next, do some homework. Find out as much information as possible about the companies that attract you the most. You should seek out their visions and missions from their websites. You really have to feel that you believe in these visions and goals! Get in touch with people within your network who have worked or are still working at these companies. There is nothing more valuable than a honest opinion of an insider! See what the internet says about them! There are many tools and resources you can use to find this information. However, do not get too attached to those opinions. Some people are just mean, especially when there is a certain anonymity on blogs and social networks.
The final step will be to meet with the decision makers for the role. Ask them questions that have still not been answered by your research. You are absolutely in the right to ask, so do it! It will be you working for them, and let’s face it: you are not looking to change jobs again right away just because you did not ask the important questions when you had the chance.
Remember! You have options when you have job security and stability. Being gainfully employed while you look for another job gives you an enormous advantage.
If you are still employed, there is nothing that is pushing you to make quick decisions. You do not need to accept any job just because you cannot stay unemployed. On one hand, you have enough time to decide correctly. Yet on the other hand, your stability might actually hold you back much more than you think. Why is that?
Stability is a very tricky thing!
What do I mean by that? Work is only one piece of the happiness puzzle, and job stability isn’t the same as life stability. Every environment offers different kinds of stability. Let me explain.
A corporate environment might provide stability, often referred to as a “warm place for life” with a pension plan, regular salary, stable projects, etc. You know what to expect, and you can plan way in advance. If you are planning a family holiday, you can calculate how many months of savings you’ll need after you pay your mortgage, leases and other expenses.
However, there is not always an opportunity to grow within the company. There is usually someone occupying the job you want and only a very slight chance you might get it.
There are also different kinds of stress involved. For example, you can come across interpersonal issues that are not always solved in the best way by management.
When you feel secure, you are not pushed over the edge to try to achieve better and bigger things. You do not reach out of your comfort zone. Some ideas might not appear in your head because you are not compelled to think of them. Stability could be your anchor for your ideas and dreams. Without it, you can feel as though your life is falling apart. You’ll feel insecure and are under another kind of stress. This might be the reason you’ll choose a corporate environment.
Alternatively, if you begin working for a start-up company that has some potential, your possibilities might expand much more. If you are part of a small team full of people who believe in their mission, trusting that the project (the purpose of the company) has a future, your career might develop rapidly. There are not any formal processes you have to follow which can hold you back. If you are a founder of a start-up, you are the boss of your time and ideas. If you are working for one, there might be much more flexibility offered to you as well as a space for your creativity. You can share ideas with your co-workers who might help you to bring them to an even higher level.
There is, of course, almost no stability. You never know when the start-up company will achieve its goals. You might end up with no money next month because the idea just did not hit the market as well as everyone had expected. This is the edge we are talking about. However, this is the type of situation where everything in your head can become clearer. When you feel insecure, you might come up with some interesting and even brilliant ideas like the next Google or eBay. You will be surprised how easy it can be.
With a career in a small or start-up environment, you will have an opportunity to learn quickly and acquire new skills in the workplace. You might even be working with the newest technologies, software and systems.
After one year of working in a corporate environment, you might realize how little you have actually learned. If you do not invest in learning during your free time, you might end up with little extra know-how that next year. Comparatively, when working at a start-up, you are forced to develop much more rapidly. You are a vitally important part of the company with many responsibilities. As the company grows, so do you.
There are many different kinds of opportunities for freelancers, depending on what field you are working within or which occupation you have. In general, as a freelancer, you plan your daily tasks, earn more money and pay less in taxes. Your life expenses can potentially be added to your business expenses. You can choose different projects ranging from short-term to long-term, or whatever you prefer. If you need to learn something new, choose a project in which you have the chance to do so. Interviewing for such projects is much easier, since the company is only hiring you for a predefined period of time, not permanently. You get to work with different people and have the chance to develop vertically. However, you may find that you develop horizontally in only a few roles.
Freelancing jobs are very limited. Security and stability ends with your contract and are only extended with a new one. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If you are financially independent enough, you can take a break for one month and travel or use this time to study, get certifications, etc. This is not possible when you are fully employed. You have few options when you are working for someone other than yourself. It all depends on what your employer supports, allows or denies. You have to play their game.
Of course, there are different pros and cons when working for individual companies, but we are talking about a feeling and/or need to choose or not to choose a stable career.
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