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The life cycle of a job

The life cycle of a job

Thursday 09 September 2021

The life cycle of a job


Does there always have to be a reason for leaving a role, or do jobs, like so much else in life, have definitive cycles and eventually just come to a natural end?

Express’s workplace wellbeing columnist Emilia Summers dives into the issue…

A few years ago, I made the conscious decision to search out my forever job, one that would offer me everything I would need for my career path; make me feel challenged, respected and in a financially comfortable position. So, it came as a surprise to me when four years down the line I started to feel a sense of dissatisfaction. Nothing about the role had changed, the environment around me and my colleagues remained the same.

Yet I couldn’t shake that nagging feeling that perhaps I’d reached the end of the road and it was time to move on. How much should we fight to make it work and when does ‘enough’ really mean ‘enough’? Does there always have to be a reason for leaving a role, or do jobs, like so much else in life, have definitive cycles and eventually just come to a natural end?

The truth is that our lives inexplicably change over the course of a period of years, and for a job to continue to fit, it needs to change with us. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a role that offers incredible flexibility and can evolve and grow with you, but for most of us the reality is that no matter how much we love a job, it will never last.

Financial circumstances alter with various big life events such as marriage, buying a house or having children, as does your appetite for adventure and challenge. The hunger I devoted to my job in the beginning has lost pace, and in its space I sought to value elements that offered a better work/life balance. Over the past couple of years, the whole world has come to a realisation that you do indeed work to live and not the other way round, causing us to reexamine current circumstances. 

The media has painted a poor picture of millennials as job-hunting, self-serving creatures, always looking for the next mountain to climb, or for those who will offer us better respect and rewards.

As I now find myself becoming a millennial forgone conclusion, I realise that job-hopping is not simply a trend of the young and restless, eager to prove themselves and unwilling to compromise; instead it has become an accepted practice for what is a world changing at an ever increasing speed.

Having lived through a few jobs now I’ve started to recognise the stages of each job cycle and those signs that your job is reaching the end of its life.

Working through it

The period where you recognise change is necessary but you feel that you can still make it work if both you and your employer make concessions. You chat to your boss honestly about how you are feeling, what you need and agree to review the matter in a period of time to see if your needs are being met.

You make suggestions for change, maybe to refocus on areas that would fulfil your needs, or you look to distribute work among the wider team. This might mean making a new hire to take the pressure off you, or adjusting your job role to accommodate your ambitions. At this point it’s important to be clear, communicative, to set targets and agree on how you can meet these.  

Internal movements

Often the need to change results, not from the company or its ethos, but from a particular role within the organisation, make an internal move appealing. It could be that you want to move to a back-office function, or have found a new interest in another operation of the company that you’d like to try your hand at. Other than moving up or down the ladder, a sideways move has its advantages for both parties.

For the firm they get to retain someone who they have invested in financially and who knows the business well and what to expect. For the employee they get to stay at a place where they feel comfortable and rewarded, and where they know what to expect. Getting practice in several areas of a business is also a great platform for progression within the same firm.  

Punching out

Ultimately the time will come when it makes sense to move to pastures new. When you’ve tried to make it work, but the potential of other external roles offer something that your current employer just cannot give. The time period between coming to this realisation, and then leaving, can vary greatly depending on the current job market and your requirements, so it’s important to continue to have the drive to perform your job adequately.

Leaving on good terms is of paramount importance, as its not unheard of for a job cycle to lead you back to the beginning, and the very company you left years before.  

Being aware of the phases of the cycle has given me great comfort and helped me plan out my next move. Seeing it as just another passage of life also helps to remove emotion from the situation, understanding that you aren’t disappointing anyone or failing in your role by wanting to ty something new.

A career move needn’t be a happy nor said occurrence, simply time to move onto the next rung in the ladder and start the process once more again. It remains to be seen how the younger generations will approach the job cycle and whether these become shorter and more frequent or if employers themselves evolve the way cycles work to try to retain people for longer. I certainly remain hopeful every time I start a new a new role that maybe this will be my last jump. 

This article first appeared in Connect magazine, which you can read here. 

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