23 March 2022

It's an employee's job market, but is change really worth the risk?

| Zoya Patel
Join the conversation

The grass isn’t always greener and all that glitters isn’t gold in the job market. Photo: File.

I think I speak for most Canberrans working in white-collar jobs when I say that I’ve never felt more appealing as an employee than in the current job market. Every day, I feel like a new recruiter is sliding into my DMs on LinkedIn to ask if I’m interested in this or that position.

I’m getting phone calls from agencies I haven’t worked with in years just to ‘check in’, and frankly, I feel as flattered as I imagine a new Tinder user feels for the first 30 minutes of attention before it all starts to feel a bit stale and tedious.

But as exciting and flattering as it seems to be wooed by potential employers, it’s worth asking, if employees hold all the cards in today’s job market, does that actually mean changing jobs is worth the risk?

READ ALSO L’Americano Espresso Bar and Restaurant: a slice of the Italian Riviera at the Canberra Centre

I speak as someone who has changed jobs relatively regularly throughout my career. I have never been able to stay focussed and motivated if I don’t enjoy a workplace, and prefer to move on than to linger and feel dissatisfied. But despite the many opportunities available right now, I don’t feel even the slightest bit tempted to see what else is out there.

That’s because my job now is the best job I’ve ever had – and I know that it will likely remain the best job I’ll ever have because I work for an organisation that I was employed by previously, and that I’ve been lucky enough to return to. I knew what the culture, environment and team dynamic would be that I was returning to, and making that informed decision has been the best one of my career to date.

Here’s my theory – there’s actually way more to be potentially lost than potentially gained by changing jobs. Unless you’re actually miserable, it’s likely that any new workplace will provide the same balance of positives and potential frustrations as where you currently are, and sometimes the familiar is well worth the minor irritations.

There is just so much risk when you change employers, and most of the potential impacts on your wellbeing have very little to do with the actual functions of your role. For me, everywhere I’ve worked as a communications professional (except for maybe one public service department) has utilised my skills effectively, and provided work for me that I felt very capable of doing.

But the workplace cultures have varied drastically, and those are the elements that had me wistfully thinking about the good workplaces I had in the past, and leaping for the opportunity to return to them. The fact is, I had seen what was out there, and it really wasn’t that great.

Things like having workmates that I enjoy seeing and speaking to daily, having flexibility that allows me to balance my different priorities, and being respected for what I can bring to the organisation are now far more important to me than minor increases in salary or little perks.

READ ALSO Accused of ‘strangling land supply’, government says no simple answers to questions of housing affordability

When I weigh up the potential risk versus reward of leaving for other pastures, I feel much more confident in my long-term wellbeing being in an environment I understand, than taking the risk of trying somewhere else, in case it goes pear-shaped.

This now feels like a fairly conservative position, and given the ‘great resignation’ we’re experiencing across sectors, it clearly isn’t one shared by too many other Australians. Part of the bigger picture, of course, is that employers are starting to recognise that they need to offer more than just competitive wages to attract the best candidates. People want better conditions, perks and an understanding that work is just one part of our lives, not necessarily the key part.

Ultimately, the decision to move to a new job is made up of numerous individual factors, but I’ve learned not to have eyes too big for my stomach when it comes to new opportunities.

Is this conservative approach one that could be shutting me off to opportunities? Or is it more important to know what you have when you have it, instead of risking its loss while chasing a bigger reward?

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

“Here’s my theory – there’s actually way more to be potentially lost than potentially gained by changing jobs”

Experience tells me the theory is correct but not the complete story. Changing jobs means you go to an unfamiliar environment with new challenges and a loss of sense of competence. You will rue it for the first six months. Then the downward curve will turn upwards and reach a new heights.. Then it will flatten out and at that point you should start to think about the next move. Once every 5 years as a rule of thumb.

IMO competition works. Too few Australians change jobs these days (it was not so several decades ago) and that may be one of the reasons that wage growth is stuck and so many managers are sub par. In Canberra the issue is particularly acute because the workforce is captive to a lovely city but are people actually learning in their jobs when management in the public service environments are a generation behind?

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.