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Why Reflection is Key to a Successful Career Move

Why Reflection is Key to a Successful Career Move

It’s that time of year again where we all start to think about making changes, and this can often include a desire to look for a new role. If a new job is on your wish list for 2018 then before doing anything, ask yourself: have you REALLY thought it through? OCG’s Julie Cressey shows the value of self-reflection when planning that all important career move.

With all the "New Year, new you," talk, it's easy to see why it's tempting to think: “New Year, new job.” However, rushing into a career-changing decision without taking the time to reflect on where you are currently can be a recipe for disaster.

When looking at the best way to move forward, a great starting place is to look back on where you’ve been. It's crucial to take the time to reflect on your career to date prior to making a move. Reflection is a great way of identifying how you actually feel. Ask yourself questions such as Why did I choose this career/role? Is my current role giving me what I want? What have I learnt in the past year? Do I genuinely enjoy my role? What would be my ideal role in 5 years’ time (always hard to answer, but makes you think) What is currently causing me to want to make a change?

Bear in mind that the end of the year, whilst a great time to reflect can also be incredibly stressful which can accentuate how you truly feel about certain aspects, so try to keep yourself grounded and realistic as the last thing you want is to make a poor decision.

If you find you are genuinely unhappy at work you need to be clear on what is causing the discontent before moving forward. It might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised about how many people start a job search off the back of being unhappy, without fully understanding what is causing them to feel that way. Without this insight, it is impossible to say a new role is the solution. If I asked you “what is the one thing about your job that you would change?” chances are that it will relate to either a specific part of your role, your manager or the company behaviour.

Give yourself a diagnostic to pinpoint if your role is the source of your discontent, then do a diagnostic. Jot down your daily/weekly tasks and responsibilities to find out what you actually spend your time doing. Look over your list and take stock of what you enjoy, what you find fulfilling, challenging or frustrating, alongside what opportunities are available to progress or grow in your current role. Weigh up the parts you like against the bits you don't, and if you find that you're spending a lot more time on things you don't like, or there is no room for advancement then it genuinely may be time for a change.


Alternatively, you could be perfectly happy with your role, but your manager is an entirely different story. We've all had our fair share of bad managers – over half of New Zealanders leave their jobs due to a bad boss – and it can be extremely detrimental to both your performance and long term health. This isn’t always an easy one to solve, however given the current talent shortage I’d rather keep a high performing staff member within the business than lose them to a competitor, therefore having a conversation with HR or a trusted advisor from within is a good start. Sometimes an internal move away from the manager in question, as opposed to a fresh start, could be the better solution.

What if the company is the problem? The company culture you're immersed in is incredibly important. If you feel their values don't align with your own, or that they do things in a way you simply can't get behind, then it’s unlikely that you're going to be happy long term. The problem however, is that it's hard to know what the culture of a company is like until you're in it; this makes moving companies somewhat of a gamble. You can avoid this by working with a recruitment partner that you trust. Expert Recruiters have a deeper-than-surface insight into the companies they work with, so can give you a detailed view on what working at that company, or for the manager in question would really be like. This coupled with your personal reflections allows for a far more considered career decision.

If you are struggling with self-reflection another option is to canvas the people whose opinion you value. Talk to friends and colleagues and ask them to repeat what you've been saying throughout the year. See what they've picked up on, and what impression they got from you. Were you more positive or negative than you’d initially thought? This can be an eye-opening experience, and they may well remember or notice something that you hadn’t thought about.

Next Steps

Once you've got clarity on what you're looking for, then you can take next step. If you do choose to use a recruiter, the best thing to do is come prepared. The clearer you are about your wants and needs, the more effective an agency will be. If you're really stuck, one of our partner businesses here at OCG is Grafton Consulting, who offer in-depth career diagnostic services.

Whilst the end of the year is a common time to consider your career options, you can choose to reflect and take stock at any point in the year. After all you are ultimately responsible for your own career development and wellbeing. If you'd like to see how we can help you, please get in touch.

Julie Cressey | Manager - Services and Operations

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