Though it may seem counterintuitive, the best time to start looking for a new role is when you’re happy in your current one, Hays’ Chris Dottie explains.
I’m sure most reading this have been there: that overwhelming urge to quickly find a new job in the hope that a move will fix that thing – or things – we’ve been unhappy with at work for so long, be that escaping an unsupportive boss, a quest to learn new skills or the need to finally see your potential realised and feel appreciated.
We all know that when these negative feelings of discontent mount up, the urge to get away is strong and hard to ignore. However, the increasing pressure to find an escape route and all the feelings of urgency and panic that come with that, often means the job search is approached in the wrong way.
Many, although not fundamentally unhappy in their roles to begin with, don’t address the niggling doubts they might have. Or, indeed, neglect to really think about how their current job is helping them achieve their long-term goals.
Over time, they become complacent and comfortable. Before they know it, these niggling doubts turn into nagging pain points. Then, the pressure is on to escape, leading to a sometimes frantic and disjointed job search.
Instead, what if the candidate started thinking about why, how and where to make their next move when they felt happier and more fulfilled in their current role? Many argue that this is the best time to look for a new job. Here, I want to explain why.
How can you tell if you’re happy at work?
First of all, let’s talk about what happiness is, and what being happy at work really looks and feels like. We all know that happiness is subjective. Of course, what makes one person happy in their job might not apply to everyone else.
Generally, however, it comes down to a combination of the following reasons, as highlighted in an article by the Positive Psychology Program:
- We enjoy completing the tasks assigned to us
- We feel comfortable with the people around us at work
- We are pleased with the financial rewards of the job we do
- We have a position that allows us to continuously improve and develop
- We feel both respected and acknowledged in our work
- We are actively engaged in what we do every day
If you can identify with most of the above points, congratulations – it sounds like you’re in a good place.
However, as I alluded to earlier, just because you’re feeling happy, that doesn’t mean you should settle and not take the time and space to strategically think about what your next move might be. After all, you don’t know how long your current feeling of happiness will last.
The late, great journalist Sydney J Harris, actually once wrote that “happiness is a direction, not a place”. I think this quote not only captures the fleeting nature of happiness, it also explains that in order to sustain it we need to keep moving forward and feed it with new, positive experiences. Funnily enough, this is very close to the definition of fulfilment itself, which Psychologies cites as “a creation of positive experiences”.
With this in mind, The iOpener Institute, which specialise in the science behind happiness at work, believes that we each have to take personal responsibility for our own happiness. Crucially, the institute identifies that the key to achieving long-term happiness is by maximising performance and fulfilling potential.
So, the point I’m trying to make here is that you could take a big step towards doing so by channelling all that happiness and contentment you’re currently feeling at work, into making sure the search for your next one is as successful as possible.
Here are five ways being happy in your current job will help you find a new one.
1. You’ll be more proactive in your approach to finding work
The impact of workplace happiness is phenomenal. A study conducted at the University of Warwick found that happiness in employees leads to a 12pc spike in productivity. Happier workers use their time more effectively, increasing the pace at which they work without sacrificing quality.
Applying this same drive to your job search, therefore, increases your chances of taking a more measured, strategic and proactive approach which of course will lead to better results.
2. You won’t feel the panic and pressure of leaving a job you don’t enjoy
Without the ‘knee-jerk’ need to simply find a new job, you’re more likely to invest the time to think about your next step logically as opposed to taking the ineffective scatter-gun approach to finding a new role.
You’ll be clear on your goals, more focused in your search and, therefore, it’s far more likely you’ll be successful in finding the long-term rewards you hope for. After all, you wouldn’t buy a new house without taking the time to really think about whether you want to upsize or downsize, researching the area or conducting a survey and searching for a job should be no different.
3. You’ll be perceived more positively, because you are more positive
With no negativity from your current job wearing you down and shifting your perceptions, judgement, mentality and behaviour, you’ll be far better able to articulate all the positives of your current role, what you’ve learnt and where you want to go in an interview situation. You will therefore be perceived as a successful candidate with a positive and proactive attitude, who is ready to take the next step for the right reasons.
You will also naturally feel more comfortable and confident in yourself to ask questions of the interviewer, turning the interview into a conversation rather than an interrogation. This will ensure you are able to properly assess if the opportunity really is the right one for you. After all, if it’s not, you’re in no rush to move and you can put it down to experience and move on.
4. You will be perceived as engaged with your work
As your reason for moving jobs comes from a position of strength and positivity, you will naturally present yourself as an employee dedicated and passionate about what you do. Being able to easily and without hesitation reflect on your existing boss, colleagues and responsibilities in an entirely complimentary light will also prove that you work well with others.
Essentially, your positive emotions and outlook, including compassion and empathy, will be perceived as valuable, personal and transferable traits that will benefit your new employer.
5. You’ll be in a better place to deal with possible rejection and tackle feedback more constructively
Ultimately, there is also no huge loss from your point of view if you aren’t offered the job. Of course your confidence (and thus, happiness) might be temporarily dented if you’re rejected, because you aren’t feeling the pressure to make a move it’s more likely you will be better equipped to learn from the process and take everything you can from it.
You can return to a job you already enjoy, still free from the pressure of needing to leave, seeing any rejection you might experience as no more than a blip in your quest for development.
The real point I’m trying to make is that the trigger to start your search for a new job shouldn’t be a feeling of unrelenting unhappiness or resentment. Instead, it should be a feeling of happiness and contentment.
As I hope I’ve outlined to you, by embarking on your job search at a time when you feel mentally positive, happy and healthy, you’re far better equipped and therefore much more likely to make the right decisions for your career, both now and in the future.
By Chris Dottie
Chris Dottie is the managing director at Hays Spain.
A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog