Working life

Building work-life balance into your career

Five key strategies for changing jobs successfully

By Gerald McGroarty, Leadership and Performance Coach, BrighterLife.ca

Comments (2)

Changing jobs and carving a new path in your career journey can mean running the gamut of emotions from anxiety to excitement and all points in between.

Five key strategies for changing jobs successfullyMaybe you’re looking for more job responsibility and fulfillment or a better salary, benefits and overall compensation. Perhaps the change of scenery has been triggered by boredom, a bad corporate culture or a belligerent boss.

Whatever the reason, if you’ve made the decision to leave, or you’re on the cusp of jumping ship, here are five game-changing strategies to help ensure a smooth transition.

1. Don’t burn bridges

Yes, you’ve heard this a million times, but it’s never enough. Believe it or not, many of your accomplishments were a combined effort of the team you’re leaving.  Your CV is certainly a reflection of you, but it also represents your co-workers achievements, so leave with an attitude of gratitude.

In some cases, you may be asked for an exit interview. This is an opportunity for your employer to tap into your thoughts on what the organization does well, or where it can improve.  Remember what your mother always told you: “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.” There’s a fine line between complaining and offering constructive criticism, so given the choice, frame your words by offering “suggestions” rather than complaining.

Finally, stay in touch with the old gang. You made some good friends and contacts, so keep you network up to date. And don’t forget to give them your new contact info!

2. Get your house in order

The excitement and euphoria of a new opportunity often overrides the reality and sensibility of some of our housecleaning duties. Make sure you tie up all the paperwork and loose ends at your old place of work and do the same at the new locale.

Depending on your situation, this could include finalizing bonuses, commission payments, letters of reference, tax receipts or beneficiary documents and remembering to look closely at your pension, RRSP and benefit plan options.

According to Industry Canada, between 2003 and 2008, there was an increase in the percentage of working Canadians who are self-employed and own an incorporated business. But, whether your job transition is from office to office or you’re taking the leap to self-employment, if you’re currently covered under your employer’s group benefits plan, chances are you can continue your benefits coverage by becoming an individual plan member. Do the research, ask your provider lots of questions and make sure you dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s to ensure you stay protected.

3. Recharge your batteries

If possible, take the time between gigs to relax. If you can, try to negotiate a bit of time between when your old job ends and your new one begins. Before you know it, you’ll be right back at it busier than ever (sorry to break that news to you, but it’s true). So, try to work in a vacation or a few days out of town or at least take some “me” time and enjoy.

4. Keep your eyes open

The moment you walk through the doors of your new surroundings, the change will really hit you – embrace it. Change is good and you’re going to see lots of it: people, processes, culture and a new way of doing things. Our attitude is dramatically affected by our past experiences and what we know plays heavily into our comfort zone. But don’t be surprised if much of what you see is new to you. It should be. Just observe, learn and enjoy: “OLÉ!”

Don’t think you have to enter your new role and know it all. You were hired for a reason – they believe in you. Just take the time to get to know the people and processes. A basic rule of thumb if you want a quick win is play to your strengths. Pick the spots where you know you can make an immediate impact and let the learning curve guide you in those areas where you could use development.

5. Celebrate!

Ever heard the term “back porchin’” it’? Well, you have now. It’s slang for taking the time to celebrate, and that’s exactly what you want to do. Whether it’s chillin’ on the backporch, going out for dinner or belly-flopping on the couch – take a moment to savour your new beginning. But don’t do it after the first day, do it at the end of the week – it will feel so much better!

Let me share a great quote I found on thinkexist.com: “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

Working well More bright ideas for managing your career and making the most of your benefits.

Just remember, don’t leave your benefits behind! Check into options for transferring your coverage if you’re currently covered under an employer’s group plan. Check with an advisor about options for continuing your coverage if you are a member of a Sun Life Financial sponsored group plan or if your coverage is provided by another insurance carrier.

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Danielle Origon on

Great article! I am thinking of changing my career in the coming months and this certainly has given me some things to consider! Making the career change is a big decision but you have just created a little check list for me….thank you!

Michele on

Great article Mr McGroarty! So many of the points are so common sense, but at the time of change are often over-looked. The section of ‘getting your house in order’ is very relevant to many of us, especially as it pertains to monies, pensions or bonuses earned. I will flip this article to others I know that are considering to make a change!

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