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Let me start by explaining the title of this post. I’ve recently done something that I don’t do often – moved jobs. Having made my living from helping people go from one company to another, it’s an experience that I should be more familiar with, but supporting a transition and going through one yourself are two different things.
I got into recruitment straight out of university – not out of any ambition to join the crowds at TM Lewin and Madison’s, but because I’d finished university, had no clue what I wanted to do, and my Dad was coming to visit. I needed some interviews, and fast, and recruitment companies were hiring. I was lucky enough to land a job that would pay me a wage that I could live on (just) in Central London. I stayed there for ten years. I look back on that time fondly – I met inspiring people, set up an office in New York, launched an Africa-focused business, and travelled the world. After ten years though, I felt it was time for a change. I found something great and handed in my notice.
In the days leading up to resigning I felt sick, on edge, and guilty. These are normal emotions to experience but it was strange at the time. Eventually, I did the deed and….they were really cool about it. They understood my reasons, thanked me for my service, and booked in a leaving lunch. Easy!
We then discussed my notice period. It was three months, but I only had to for two weeks, which meant ten weeks of gardening leave. It seemed too good to be true, but I packed up my stuff and headed off to be a house husband.
I’d decided to move to Meet, a smaller company but more specialist, growing rapidly and building a really credible brand. I’ve been here just over a month and it’s been great, from day one (I went home thinking, ‘I don’t even know what I need to find out’,)to getting to know everyone in this positive, well-run, ambitious company.
The reason for this post is that I learned a few things over the course of making this career change, which I wanted to share with anyone who’s in a similar position, or for those of us who help people change roles as part of our job – it’s easy to forget what it’s actually like for the individuals in question.
Leaving your company is hard. It doesn’t matter how good your reasons are, or how good an opportunity is, it’s tough to go in and see the people that you’ve been spending your time with (often for a number of years), and tell them that you don’t want to see them anymore. Guilt is common, fear of the unknown is to be expected, and a certain amount of nostalgia or sadness is inevitable.
You know more than you think you do. Everything you’ve learned can be applied elsewhere. What seems routine at one company may seem revolutionary at another. You can add value from day one. It’s important to be confident in your ability to succeed in a different environment. At the same time, however….
You don’t know as much as you think you do. Different companies breed different ideas, and what seemed impossible before may be straightforward now. They say there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s definitely more than one way to run a business, whatever your business is. Remaining open to new ways of working and fresh ideas is always essential, but even more so when joining a new company.
Culture is everything. Your day job may be exactly the same, but what really affects how you feel when you get up in the morning is culture. A company is just a group of people who are pulling in the same direction to achieve something, so the team dynamic and environment make all the difference to your job satisfaction. If you’re thinking about making a move, be clear on what you want to change and why. If you are recruiting someone into a new role, company culture is an important factor that contributes to whether someone accepts a job or not. Make sure you respect it.
Making this move has been quite a ride, and has reminded me what the people I work with are going through when we find them a new role – I certainly have a much healthier respect for their struggles! Everyone’s career is different, and I suppose that the main thing I’ve learned is that it’s your career, so you have to make the decisions that are right for you and your family.