As the great resignation continues, there have become more and more options for workers when it comes to making a career change. With the move to remote work since the pandemic and a national unemployment level just north of 3%, workers are not tied down to jobs that are commuting distance from their homes. Where many of us feared for our job security in 2020, there is now a new world of options available for individuals looking to advance or make a change. However, just because change and options are available, doesn’t mean taking that step to make a change will be easy or clear.
The last two years of this pandemic have created fear and uncertainty in many of us. Even if you are experiencing burnout in your current job, the idea of making a career change can be scary and unsettling, especially if you generally like your job and employer. As I entered 2022, that was me. After two years of title changes and pay cuts brought on by the pandemic, as well as inadequate compensation increases as my company began to settle into the new normal, I was frustrated, lost, and burned out in a job I generally loved. Thus started a three-month journey that I lovingly called, “figuring my life out.”
My “figure my life out” journey really started on just one of those bad, frustrating workdays. One of those days where you say to yourself, “I can’t keep doing this.” It wasn’t the first time in the last several months I had felt that way, but it was the first time things seemed to align in a way that I was motivated to act. On the same day, a colleague reached out to me about an internal opportunity, and an external opportunity at an organization that I always wanted to work for came across my inbox. I applied for both and thought nothing else of it.
Within the next week, momentum started picking up in my current position. The underlying frustrations around my title and pay were still there, but things were looking up. That same moment that had caused me to apply for those other positions had moved me to share my frustrations with my boss. They were receptive to my concerns, and it seemed like there might be the possibility of a conversation around some improvements. I got comfortable with the idea of being passive again in my career, keeping my head down, doing the work, and trusting it would all work out. Just like that, the two jobs I had applied for the week or so before reached out. One interview turned into two, then three, and suddenly, I was looking down the real possibility of having to decide my next steps.
To say I was a little overwhelmed and frustrated with the “take action, Cidne!” of the month before would be an understatement. Adulting is hard, y’all, and I was torn between the excitement of opportunity and wanting to just be passive and do my work. I didn’t want to make a choice. I didn’t want to have the conversation with my boss who I loved working for because I felt guilty. How could I even think about leaving a team I built and loved leading, and a job that I had given so much of my life to? What if leaving was the wrong decision? Even with all of the uncertainty, I put on my best adult face and I had the conversation. After some circular talk and some tears on my side, my boss left the conversation with the intent to force the hand of my department to go from discussing the changes to taking the steps to keep me.
Ultimately, I ended up not being offered the external position, but internally I was now stuck in a bidding war between departments. I had options and opportunities and a choice to make thanks to my decision to listen to that trigger moment and act. I ended up staying in my role, with a restored title, increased pay, and a renewed optimism for my work. I wasn’t stuck here, I had options, and I had skills that were wanted. I chose to stay because it was the right place for me to be and I am happy for it.
As hard and emotionally draining the first few months of 2022 were, I learned so much from this experience. If you keep hearing in your head that you need to make a change, take that moment and act. Maybe nothing happens, or maybe that moment of taking charge and not being passive helps you get to the place you need to be even if it is where you were all along.
About the Author
Cidne Christensen is the Director of Community Development for American Cancer Society at the Utah Branch. She has been with American Cancer Society for 12 years and has a degree in Marketing and Economics from Southern Utah University. Originally she is from New Mexico, but she grew up in Clinton, Utah. When she isn’t helping patients, caregivers, and communities in the fight against cancer, Cidne is an avid traveler and an enthusiastic Real Salt Lake Supporter.