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Insights & advice

Things to consider when leaving a job or changing careers

March 2021 – 15 min read

Key takeaways

  • People change jobs or careers for many reasons

  • There are benefits to making a job or career change

  • There are tell-tale signs that suggest it’s time to make a change

  • The average worker changes jobs every 4.2 years

  • There are several motivators for people to change jobs

  • There are pros and cons to changing industries and great reasons to look for a new job where you’re working now

  • Job security and income often increase with more education

  • There are several financial considerations to switching jobs

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Financial aspects of switching jobs

If you’re considering a career change, remember there are other financial implications like:

  • Group benefits coverage

    Understand how long you’ll be covered under your current benefits, and how long it may be until coverage from your new employer will take effect. Consider personal health and dental benefits to fill the gap if necessary. 

  • Group retirement plan

    If you’re in a company pension plan or group registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), determine your options for withdrawing those assets or transferring them to your new employer’s plan.

  • Relocation costs

    If you’re moving to take a new jobOpens in a new window - Opens in a new window, confirm who’ll pay for the relocation expenses. If you’re going to a new city, check out the difference in the cost of living, public transportation, real estate, etc.

  • Time between pay cheques

    Will there be any gap between your last pay from your previous job and your first pay from your new one? If so, have you budgeted enough to cover your living expenses during that time?

Why do people change jobs or careers?

People end up searching for a new job or career for several reasons:

  • Better pay
  • Reduced stress/burnout
  • Better work-life balance
  • Lack of promotion opportunities
  • Feeling unappreciated
  • Negative work environment

Benefits of changing jobs or careers

Changing your work situation every few years can provide several benefits:

  • More room for advancement
  • New challenges can help you grow new skills
  • A new job can renew your passion for what you do
  • Searching, applying and interviewing for a new job is a valuable learning experience

Signs it’s time to change jobs

If you’re wondering whether you should start searching for a new job or career, look for these signs:

  • You’re too comfortable and feel you can achieve more
  • Your personality doesn’t match your workplace corporate culture
  • Your job doesn’t match your areas of interest
  • The job doesn’t allow you to live the lifestyle you desire
  • The job doesn’t make you happy

How long should you wait to change jobs?

The days when people spent their entire working lives with the same company are long gone. 
According to the jobs-site MonsterOpens a new website in a new window - Opens in a new window , workers aged 25 to 34 switch jobs every 2.8 years, while workers aged 55 to 64 change jobs every 10.1 years. The average time workers spend at the same job is 4.2 years.

What motivates people to change jobs?

  • Going back to school, especially if your school schedule and your current job aren’t a good match

  • Negative work environment that makes work a place you don’t want to be

  • Moving to a new city, province or country may be a reason to leave your job, unless working remotely is an option

  • Getting full-time, permanent work may mean it’s time to leave a temporary, part-time or contract job

  • Changing life goals like saving for retirement or to buy a home, or new life events such as getting married or starting a family may be reasons for switching jobs if you decide you need a better paying job or better group benefits to support them

  • Personal or family illness may be a reason to leave a job whether you’re too ill to work yourself, or you have a quit your job to care for a family member

  • Personal scheduling issues if your job doesn’t allow you to adjust for childcare

Job change strategies

Changing industries

If you’re moving from an industry that’s in decline to one that’s on the rise, it may lead to better pay and career growth. 

However, switching industries may also mean starting as a newbie again, which could mean earning less for a while and take longer to get a promotion. 

Changing jobs in the same company

There are lots of reasons to look for a new position in the company you’re with now:

  • You won’t have to figure out a new organization
  • You’ll grow your network in the company
  • You may accumulate more paid vacation or other benefit perks

Deciding to go back to school

Job security and income often increase with more education. Because they know that more education can impact your job performance, some employers may allow a leave of absence or flexible work schedule to accommodate you going back to school. 

The drawbacks of going back to school is the loss of income, a possible gap in your resume, and possibly have to look for a new job in a different job market, once your education is complete.

Things to consider before changing your job or career

  • Work environment – Do you want to work alone or as part of team? Like a lot of variety in your work, or not? Work in an office with a lot of people, or at home?

  • Work-life balance – Flexibility for family obligations, commuting, paid time off, etc.

  • Salary vs. satisfaction – If you can overlook the quality of work environment for a bigger pay cheque, then money is more important for you. However, many people find job satisfaction more important than what they get paid as long as they’re making enough to live comfortably.

  • Growth opportunities – Will the company provide opportunity for you to progress in your career?

  • Is the job or career challenging – While some people like to stay in their comfort zone, others need challenges to motivate them to succeed.

The information provided is based on current laws, regulations and other rules applicable to Canadian residents. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publication. Rules and their interpretation may change, affecting the accuracy of the information. The information provided is general in nature, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for advice in any specific situation. For specific situations, advice should be obtained from the appropriate legal, accounting, tax or other professional advisors.