Advancement not all about money

By Tom Clarke

There comes a time when you may need to reinvent yourself.

Money is not necessarily a good driver when considering a career change. Photo / Getty Images
Money is not necessarily a good driver when considering a career change. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand's brighter economic outlook is likely to bring with it improved pay rates and increased job opportunities, and the opportunity for some to head off on new tacks in their careers.

The Robert Walters annual global salary survey points to a 3.58 per cent rise in permanent salaries this year, with people working in those areas where there are skills shortages - such as construction, engineering, IT and change management - being in line for bigger increases.

But Auckland career management coach Kay Avery warns that while higher pay is a big part of the motivation for many people to change jobs, it's not always a good one.

"Money is probably the driver for the majority of people when they decide to change jobs, but it's not necessarily a good driver," she says.

"With the way the housing market is right now with high prices and the need for big mortgages, it's very tough for young people trying to get into their own homes and I see people with enormous mortgages who are willing to compromise what they enjoy doing for the sake of a better salary.

"But, the willingness to make that compromise in the longer term is not good, and usually it comes unstuck in some way."

Avery says she's realistic about the need for people to do what they have to do to support their families, but her emphasis is on career sustainability.

"In the longer term, career sustainability is really what people need to be thinking about - it's a mix of money, what you enjoy doing and where your career might be going.

"Forward thinking in the current jobs market is difficult because roles change and industries change so rapidly, but it's really what people need to be thinking about."

So what should you look for when you do decide to change jobs? "For me, the big thing is around looking for conditions within the workplace that support you to do your best work," Avery says.

"When you have the conditions where it's right for you to do your best work you're most likely to do well. "That's the key - look for the money, but make sure that you have the right conditions as well."

Avery has a background in recruitment and HR consulting and runs her own consultancy specialising in career and performance coaching, mentoring and workplace transition, and runs workshops on career management, personality development and ageing and working.

Can she identify the symptoms that indicate it's time for a change in our working lives?

"Yes, there are signs when it's time to move on," she says "and these include the feeling that you're not being recognised or rewarded for what you're doing, or when you feel you're not learning anything new and are starting to feel bored, and when there is a disengagement because you're either bored or overwhelmed by your job."

She says it's important to have a great sense of who you are and what you want to achieve in life before you take the next step.

Quite often people looking to change jobs take the first thing that comes along - because they're worried they might miss out - when they should be connecting with themselves, and using a career management coach if they need to, to get a better sense of who they are before they take the next step.

Careers, she says, are a journey involving life, work and learning, which all go together. "There was a time when people would leave school and get into a bank or they'd go teaching, and it was seen as a job for life - a career for life.

"But now we have blended jobs, new industries starting up and industries downsizing, and we have so much change going on, that people are kind of having to reinvent themselves all the time. Career can't be compartmentalised into just a working life and a working identity, because it's so tied up with everything you have happening in your life.

"As a coach, I need to incorporate what's happening for clients - what their needs are emotionally and aspirationally. I like to say life, work and learning, because they go together."

Career coaching is a quietly growing industry, and in her view is applicable to everyone wanting to make the best career decisions, not just those who are very career-oriented. Avery says that it's important to make well-considered and conscious decisions, not just reactive decisions.

- NZ Herald

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