Post Holiday Career Blues? The Stay or Go Conversation...

18 January, 2013

Instead of throwing in the towel for greener grass on the other side, how about watering your own lawn?

OK, so we’re all back at work after the Christmas break, wondering whether we can do another year of the same thing.  Our thoughts may turn to throwing it all in and starting somewhere else.  Surely, we think, that new employer will solve all our problems…

As I constantly preach, in your quest for career satisfaction it’s important to forensically examine your key motivators and drivers.  If you find that the source of your dissatisfaction is with your actual work tasks rather than a disconnect with your career values or the workplace culture, I suggest that you work through “in-house” options first.


Get that Broom Out!

Many people feel powerless to make changes to a job they are not happy with.  However, it can be done in most instances.

A starting point is to imagine you have just won your current job and to take a “new broom” to it.  What changes would you make in the way the job is currently being done? 

It’s easiest to tackle changes that don’t need the approval of others.  For other changes that need the cooperation of your boss, it is important to develop an action plan. 

For example, if you want to learn a new skill, you are more likely to win approval if you can identify a strategic linkage between the new skill and your current job responsibilities.

What can you do if you aren’t sure of what changes to make to the job?  I find that many people ignore one of the best sources of information: people.  You can tap into the knowledge and advice of fellow work mates and even expand your network of contacts to explore possibilities.  

Once you have clarified your thoughts, you can go to your manager with clear ideas and a pathway.  In this way, you are presenting solutions, not problems. 


How to move to part-time work

Many people ruin their chances to make a move to part-time work by marching in to their boss and presenting an immediate request to change their role.

A key to success here can be to see the world from the boss’ perspective.  What is it that he/she needs to feel comfortable about giving the go-ahead for the change? 

For example, the boss may need to know that the area of work that is being given up can be seamlessly taken up by someone else, with no damage to ongoing operations and no additional costs.

Your request is more likely to win over the boss if it is accompanied by a well thought-out transition plan.  This may need you to think ahead – to identify another employee who could be trained in the tasks and to allow time to complete the training.

Last but not least, success is more likely to go to a valued employee – the more critical you are to the business and the more you are valued as a person, the more likely it is that your boss agrees to the change.  So, it’s worth reviewing your current contribution and how you are perceived at work and making any necessary changes well in advance of the request (see Career Management: Problem Finder or Problem Solver).


What about the prospect of starting over again?

If you are toying with the thought of “reinventing” yourself, take heart.  People do it successfully all the time! 

The first stage is to ensure that the proposed career change suits the essence of who you are.  For example, does it match your skills/interests and is there a good fit with your personality?

This self assessment is easily done via numerous web sites, with one of the most highly regarded being the online Career Development Manual found at

Once you have identified careers that are of interest, you need to understand the Job Search process.  As an example, a basic rule of thumb is that “Networking is King” and 65% of positions are generally picked up using this strategy. (see Smashed Knees, Resilience and Networking)

Finally, it’s time to launch your Job Search campaign.   Successful career changers have high levels of discipline and it helps to have someone to support and inspire them.  It’s a matter of whatever it takes to do the hard yards, keep on track and persist.   

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Catherine Cunningham is Adelaide's leading career expert.  She appears regularly in The Weekend Australian Careers section, in The Advertiser's Careers section, as well as in online publications such as, and

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