I just need some space

July 17, 2011

Career counseling

I keep hearing, “It’s much easier to get a job if you already have a job.” Is this really true? And if so, why? We don’t think like this regarding other committed relationships.

Imagine this conversation with a prospective sweetheart: “Are you currently involved with someone who finds you to be a good partner? May I contact him for a reference?” Alternately: “Oh, so you’re on your own then. Hmmm, I see. That is not a good sign. I’m afraid I’m really looking for someone who is already involved.”

In personal relationships, we expect people to end their affiliation with one party before signing on with another. In fact, it’s actually best to leave a relationship completely on its own merit, simply because you know it isn’t right for you. It’s considered bad form to have already selected your new partner before leaving your old one.

And, going one step further, we applaud people for having the good sense to take some “alone time” to figure out what they want before jumping in with someone new.

Why shouldn’t this also be a good plan for a career change? Is a career not a commitment?

Why shouldn’t a prospective employer respect this choice? Why should a well-thought-out*, purposefully-chosen gap (oh no, not the dreaded gap) be a red flag?

Immersion in a bad situation clouds the mind. It saps valuable energy. And it leads to too many unproductive cocktail hours.

When searching for a new career, you need time: time to think and time to act. My consultant says there are three steps in figuring out if something is a good fit: 1)read about it, 2)talk to others who do it, and 3)try it for yourself.

A well-planned sabbatical or career-break allows time and energy to make a thoughtful decision about the next step based on information and experience. It ranks high on my list of options. Although it feels scary to be on my own, it may be time for a break-up.

* Of course, personal financial responsibility is a critical part of my definition of “well-thought-out.” Pre-planning and sacrifice are required to fund a cushion that meets one’s poofiness requirements.

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Image: Nam2@7676

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