Career advice

Choosing the right time to change jobs

How do you know when the time has come to break with what you know and take on the challenge of a new job?

How do you know when the time has come to break with what you know and take on the challenge of a new job?

Changing jobs
Knowing when to change jobs. Photo: Getty Images

Identifying the best moment to move to a new job can be tricky. ‘For me, it is a gut feeling,’ says Teresa Chinn, a nurse and social media specialist.

‘It happens when I feel there is something more that I need and that the employer or the role isn’t giving me what I need to grow.’

Ms Chinn felt that her work as an agency nurse was not as fulfilling as it could have been. She started getting involved with social media, which has led her career in an exciting new direction with the #WeNurses community she runs on Twitter.

Engaged theory

Research supports Ms Chinn’s views that many nurses change jobs if they feel their existing role offers little scope to develop new skills.

A study using responses from more than 16,500 nurses in England, published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing in 2012, found that nurses who reported being psychologically engaged with their jobs were less likely to leave.

The scope for developmental opportunities, being able to achieve a good work-life balance and whether nurses' encountered work pressures were also influencing factors on their turnover intentions. Interestingly, relationships formed with colleagues and patients appeared to have little impact on whether they would leave.

Heike Guildford, a recruitment and retention coach for learning disability (LD) nurses, and an LD nurse herself, says nurses should consider carefully what their career goals are and if their current job is helping them reach them.

‘The decision whether or not to remain on a familiar path or go down the road less travelled is never easy,’ she says.

‘Do the new responsibilities offer opportunities for you to stretch and challenge yourself? Will the new job enable you to be inspired and lift you higher?

‘Check your list of all the things making you feel happy at work – would you be able to have more or less of those in the new job?’

Pros and cons

While higher paid jobs may seem more appealing, they could have a negative impact on quality of life by increasing pressure and demands and taking time away from family, Ms Guildford says. ‘Find out as much as you can about the real “cost” of any pay rise coming with the new job to see if the financial gain compensates for potential pain,’ she adds.

RCN careers adviser Julie Watkins says she would work through a nurse's reasons for leaving to see if it is the right time for a move.

If a workplace issue such as bullying is a factor, RCN Direct can offer support and tackle the issue, so there may no longer be a reason to move.

She adds that the RCN can give members 'the tools to help with their career decision making'.

'We would identify with the member relevant skills, experience and courses and consider how to develop networks that could help create opportunities. Nurses may want to change band, or they may be happy to move within the same band to gain more experience in a clinical area they would like to specialise in.'

Ms Chinn’s advice is to seize any opportunities that crop up, as they can lead to unexpected career avenues.

‘If somebody says you can come and spend a day shadowing them, speak at a conference or write a research paper then just grab it, in case you don’t get a second chance.

‘It could lead to something fantastic.’

Erin Dean is a freelance health writer

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