Fetching is a good job but there is no scope for advancement

I have spoken in detail to over 450 engineers over the past eighteen months or so, in what have been 45-minute sessions around where their career is at and how things are traveling. Of course, prior to that I have dealt with over 4,000 engineers as part of my consulting and then recruitment practice for engineers over what has been a twenty year period.

Several times the question gets asked to me as a career coach – should I stay or should I leave the current position I am in?

The arguments for staying are given as uncertainty in the economy and that they cannot afford to leave their current role, given their financial commitments. Uncertainty about the devil they know versus the devil they don’t know. Uncertainty about what to do next with no pathway clear to them. Uncertainty about accrued long service leave entitlements which have not been crystallized which could be lost should they resign. An assessment that there are absolutely no jobs available, so why look and many such traps found in my book “Work Trap Dilemma” for Engineers. Traps which ensnare the individual and pose a mental dilemma which cannot be resolved unless seen through an impartial expert’s eyes.

The argument I give them for considering a change is a steady chipping away at their self-esteem, as the environment they are in strips them of everything they hold dear to themselves.

Their self-esteem.

Let’s think about this for a moment. This is what holds you up as an individual. It’s the emotional evaluation of what an individual is worth. People with good self-esteem value their achievements. People with low self-esteem feel unsatisfied with themselves most of the time. It is the cut vein through which your life can slip through, if this is left open to bleed.

Now I’d think it was a no-brainer if I had self-esteem being impinged on the one hand and life’s mere possessions on the other – which one I’d choose. And choose I have, in my own case, giving up life’s luxuries to re-invent myself as you will see within my book “Work Trap Dilemma” about what I did, when I faced this situation myself.

To break this down to the brass tacks, here is what I think about the work traps, because traps of the mind they are:

Uncertainty in the economy

This uncertainty in the economy is not a temporary phenomenon. So; if you think things are going to change in 6, 12, 18, 24 or more months from now – I think you are going to be disappointed. Given the permanent, steady global shift of manufacturing to China, the steady stream of acquisitions taking place of major infrastructure assets in Australia and through-out the Western World, the global uncertainties as a consequence of what is happening with Brexit, unbridled debt the west finds itself with, political uncertainty as electorates hand in hung parliaments regularly, the consequences of mass migration, Islam-o-phobia and so on; this situation is not going to change any time soon.

Uncertainty is the new certainty.

Rather than focusing on being employed, the objective should be on being employable.

So this means forgetting about permanent hire and treating every job including the one you are in right now as being temporary.

After all; irrespective of you being loyal and sticking around; if your company is bought over, if your company is not doing well and needs to survive so having to lay off people or something as simple as your boss resigning / being made redundant and all your corporate political capital disappearing – guess what happens to your “permanent” job?

So you can see that your decision to stay is based on everything outside of your control.

You may be the perfect employee but does this guarantee your job? Leave aside guarantee – how much more likely is this above scenario as compared to you retiring in this organisation you are in risk-free say in 3, 5 or 10 years from now? I think you know the answer.

So, if you are unhappy where you are and are uncertain about whether you should stay or leave, just think – it is better I leave on my terms, on my chosen time frame, as compared to leaving on my company’s terms and on their time frame?

Use time now to your advantage to decide about the move, in a specific period of time. Then project plan backwards from that date. But unless you have the flag in the ground about an end date, especially if you are unhappy where you are – you will never leave and when you do, it will be most unexpected and you will be least prepared for it.

Better the “devil you know” than the “devil you don’t”

The “devil you don’t” outside your organisation can be detected through appropriate networking and access to experts who can help you get to better understand a new company’s culture before you join. And the devil you know internally may blind side you if they leave or are made redundant (and you have no control over that) so you may well have the “devil you don’t know” in the same company you are in, even without leaving. It is something you do not have control over and relying on this uncertainty is not going to do you any good over the long term.

Accrued long service leave entitlements

Then there are these bunch of individuals who are really unhappy where they are at, waiting to be made redundant so they can get a pay-out, working with a high work ethic with the result that they are left to survive as a writhing fish with minimal water yet without the water quantity being increased so they can really thrive. So they are leading “tolerable” lives but not really enjoying what they do. With one third of your life being spent at work, do you really want to reach your retirement age and then say – wow, one third of my life has been a complete waste?

Is hindsight like this avoidable?


Guess who is in charge of that decision? You!

 No jobs available

Then there is this bunch of individuals who are so pessimistic about the jobs available, that when I speak to them about job transition strategies they say “but there are no jobs available – how will you locate one?”

And my response?

Is it reasonable to assume that across a full year there will be zero hires – so not a single person being employed for the whole year? As you’d know, things happen. There are a million and one reasons why people leave jobs several for personal reasons and several who see the light and move on. Then there are some companies getting the work even as others do not. So some companies are hiring. Even in the most pessimistic economy where say 30% of businesses are failing, 70% of them are not. So why focus on the 30% failing when you can focus on the 70% who are not? Sure there are fewer jobs out there, but that is where career related strategies come into play and talking to a career doctor will help you leverage yourself better. But to assume there are zero jobs available is unreasonable. It’s almost an excuse to stay.

So what is the take away from all the above points?

Make the change, if you feel change is necessary – on your terms. Not when you are handed a lemon, at a time of uncertainty to you, as a shock to your system. Uncertainty is your new norm. Learn to take advantage of uncertain times on your terms and with your self-esteem intact.

And as they say, if pain still persists – call a doctor. A career doctor with experience of over 20 years specifically in the engineering industry. If you are interested in this, book yourself a free career health check at https://jobtransitionstrategy.com/consult/.