Careers advice

Should I change jobs? What you need to consider

Changing jobs is a big call. So, before you make the leap, ask yourself these important questions.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to work out what matters to you in a job.
  • Whether you’re getting the right work-life balance.
  • Whether the company values speak to you.
  • The steps to go through if you’re thinking about moving on.

To change job or not to change job, that is the question. 

OK, so Shakespeare’s turning in his grave right now, but if you’re reading this article, chances are you’re thinking about switching jobs. However, like a sensible person, you’ve decided to do some research before flinging in your notice and dancing out of the exit – choice.

While we can’t tell you exactly if and when you should make the move, we can give you some food for thought to inform your decision making. Let’s get munching.

Think carefully about what your current job offers you, and what is missing.

How to decide to change jobs: some soul searching questions

1. Are you happy?

A nice easy question to kick off. 

According to our research, the simple desire to leave current employment is among the top reasons Kiwis look for new jobs – as well as more positive goals like better career prospects, improved pay. or changing working hours. 

Not sure how you feel? Consider these when you’re ready:

  • Are you able to switch off? Do you leave work at work? If you find yourself checking emails on evenings, weekends or even holidays, it’s time to reconsider your work/life balance. Is it healthy, and how does it impact those around you?
  • Can you handle the workload? Think about what you need to do tomorrow. If that list fills you with dread, something needs to change. 
  • Will you be there in a year? Did you just internally scream ‘no way’? Well then, what’s stopping you from making the move sooner?

2. Do you feel valued?

Okay, so this one could fit under point one, but feeling valued at work is so important that we wanted to give it the space it deserves.

For many of us, work is about more than a salary. It’s somewhere we want to feel that we’re making a valuable contribution, and where that contribution is being recognised by those in more senior positions. If you don’t feel like this is happening, it’s easy to become demotivated – after all, what’s the point in putting in 110% if no one even notices?

In fact, a study from the American Psychological Association has shown that employees who feel valued at work have better mental and physical health than those who don’t, showing how the simple act of recognition by employers has ramifications for your life outside of work.

The good news, if you don't currently feel that your employer is giving you the credit you deserve, is that there are plenty of others out there who will. Savvy businesses move with the times, and many have picked up on the fact that they need to provide a nurturing, values-led environment for their staff to work in. If there’s a company you’re interested in working for, it’s worth hopping onto their website, and checking out the company values page, as this will give you an idea of how they approach their staff.

3. Are you moving forward?

For some, progress is about regular upskilling opportunities, for others it’s promotions and the associated pay rises.

Regardless of how you define growth, a lack of it can be wildly frustrating, and we don’t blame you if this is driving you to consider a career change.

That said, it’s important to differentiate between a temporary lull and a more permanent feeling of going nowhere. There’s no job on earth where every day throws you opportunities to learn or rise through the ranks, so be realistic with your expectations.

It’s all about looking to the horizon. Even if you’re static at the moment, is there a project around the corner where you’ll have the chance to develop? If so, it could be worth sticking around to see if your feelings change. If not, there’s no harm in assessing your options.

Are you still progressing in your current role, or are stuck in a rut?

4. Does your role suit your desired lifestyle?

As we move through our careers, priorities change,so you should ensure your job is still aligned with your broader life goals. For example, if kids have arrived on the scene, is the hour and a half commute to work still bearable, or is it eating into valuable family time?

Even if you’re not at that stage of life yet, it’s easy to get stuck into your job only to realise that two years have passed and your list of personal goals is still untouched.

If you’re having these doubts, grab the opportunity to check that your employer is moving with the times. Heaps of organisations now offer perks like flexi-work, which means things like the hours, days, and location of your work can be up for a conversation.

Stuff like this will depend on your industry (court judges, for example, can’t appear via video link in their pyjamas). But if your company could facilitate this and refuses to, maybe you could do better by changing jobs.

5. Are you still connected to the company values?

Organisations make a big deal of their values in job interviews, and rightly so. After all, both sides need to be confident the fit is right.

However, there’s a difference between talking the talk and walking the walk. If your employer reckons they always put the customer first, but you regularly witness colleagues playing fast-and-loose with the truth to make extra sales, it’s easy to become disenchanted.

Similarly, perhaps you think the business could do more to reduce its carbon footprint or narrow its gender pay gap. While a first step in these instances might be raising the issue with your seniors, if no action follows, there are plenty of organisations that will care about the things you do.

If you feel like you’re not aligned to your company’s goals, it might be time to go.

6. Do you have a destination in mind?

If your answers to the first four questions are ‘no, no, no and no’, you may have already drafted that resignation letter and be celebrating never having to deal with James in legal ever again.

Two things:

  1. Sweet – we’re glad this has got you thinking more about your career choices and what other options might be out there.
  2. Plan – deciding it’s time to move is only the first step, and you need to have a solid exit strategy in place before you make your decision public. The role you’re keen to quit will start to look mighty attractive if the job search takes longer than expected, and at least it’s paying the bills for now!
A great first step in this process is setting up a Trade Me Jobs Profile, where you can list your skills and qualifications, so employers and recruiters can come to you with relevant opportunities. It’s the closest to job hunting in your sleep you’ll ever get.

7. What’s the current job market like in New Zealand?

Another key consideration when thinking about changing jobs is the state of the current job market. As we’ve seen over the last few years, unexpected global events like the COVID-19 pandemic can have huge impacts on job prospects in countries like New Zealand. We went from a phase, during the height of COVID, when companies were letting lots of staff go, and implementing hiring freezes, to the current state of play, where the job market is heating up again.

A good way to stay up-to-date with the latest goings-on in New Zealand’s employment market is by checking out Trade Me Jobs’ quarterly market updates. These short reads provide a simple breakdown of which areas of the country are seeing the most job listings available, as well as what the current competition is like in different sectors. This can help you make the call on whether now is the right time to make the leap.