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How To Tell If It Is Time To Quit Your Job

Good reasons to quit your jobReading Time: 5 minutes

Taking the decision to quit your job is a big deal.

So how do you know if you are making the right decision?

I don’t like the word ‘quit’. It implies that you have given up.  And giving up on something has a negative aura around it.

I prefer ‘moving on’.

Here’s a question:

How many hours per day do you spend at work?

Now, compare that to the number of hours you spend at home.

Scary.

So, being happy at work is pretty damn important.

I used to be a secondary school teacher.  It was a job that I loved but, I didn’t enjoy the mountains of paperwork and stress.  It led me to an unhealthy lifestyle.   I was working day and night.  Every day, even on weekends and holidays.  Christmas Day was no exception.

Eventually, it took my health to say ‘no’ for me to wake up.  My body made me stop.

It didn’t matter how rewarding I found it.  It was no longer good for me.  For that reason, I had to quit.

I don’t want you to get to that point.  That’s why I would like to share some thoughts with you about how to decide whether it is time for you to move on to a new job.

The points I have listed in this blog post may not answer or ask all of the right questions.  But hopefully, it will help you get your thinking cap on.

 

1. ARE YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO BE?

Where are you in your career?  Where do you want to be?

Now here’s the important question:  does your current workplace offer you an opportunity to get to where you want to be?

Job hunting isn’t fun.  It’s time-consuming.  And in some cases, it can be soul destroying.

Because of this, you might be tempted to stay where you are.  Or perhaps you have been in your job for a long time and find the thought of moving on, daunting.  Regardless of the why ask yourself this:

Are you happy?  Will you be happy in a year or two?

If the answer to either of these questions is ‘no’, then it might be time to move on.

Staying in a job that doesn’t offer you the career progression you want, can be frustrating.  And guess what frustration leads to?  Demotivation.  And unhappiness.

Also, if you don’t have opportunities to acquire the skills and experience needed for your career progression, it could be damaging.  More on that later.

 

2. DO YOU FIT IN?

We all have a moral compass.  Maybe you feel passionate about helping vulnerable people?  Or perhaps you feel strongly about reducing the plastic that lands in our oceans?

Nowadays many companies have schemes that extend beyond the bottom line.  I recently visited a company whose employees volunteered in a soup kitchen once a month.   The company had an ethos of giving something back to the community.

You might have a great job but do you agree with your company’s values?

Feeling proud of where you work can massively contribute to your happiness.  After all, as we have established, we tend to spend more time at work than at home.

Ask yourself whether you believe in the company you work for.   If the answer is no maybe it is time to start exploring where other companies stand on issues that matter to you.

Another thing that is important is whether you feel comfortable in the company culture.  For instance, I once worked for an organisation where people stared at you disapprovingly if you left work on time.  It didn’t matter if you had finished everything you needed to do.

To me, that is quite bullying.  I prefer to be trusted.  How do you feel about the general culture of where you work?

 

3. Does a job for life even exist?

Long gone are the days where people settled into one job for life.  Nowadays, even employers like hiring candidates that have varied experience.

Why?  Because it shows that you are adaptable.  Also, you learn different skills from working for different companies.  Even if you have the same job title.

So how long is too long in a job?

Or more to the point, how do you demonstrate that you have staying power?  After all, if a potential employer sees that you like job hopping, they may be reluctant to hire you.

Getting the balance right can be tricky – there really is no hard and fast rule.  A good rule of thumb is to stay in roles for a minimum of two years.

On my CV, I always include why I left my past positions.  I find this is a good way to reassure employers.

I only have one job where I stayed for less than a year.  When asked about it, I have never had a negative reaction to my answer – the company wasn’t right for me.  Probably because it is embedded in other roles where I stayed for a while or had fixed-term contracts.

 

4. Work-Life Balance

Having a healthy work-life balance is so important.  When I was a teacher, I had to take marking with me on my honeymoon.  That should have raised a red flag.  But I accepted it as the norm.

Here are a few factors that can make moving onto a new job, a practical decision:

  • Your commute – if you are travelling for a long time to and from work, it may be time to see whether there are any interesting jobs closer to home.
  • Family life – are you spending as much time with your family as you would like?  I know that the answer is almost always no but, is it something you can change?  Could you move into a new position that offers flexible working hours?
  • Hours spent at work – are you working too much overtime?   Perhaps your workload gives you no choice.  Can the company hire someone to help?  If you are obliged to spend too much time outside of your contractual hours at work, maybe you need to move on.

An important thing to consider is whether the company that you work for value you.

I’m not talking about things like bonuses.  I am talking about you.  Have they got a pension scheme?  Do they contribute to travel expenses?  Is progress rewarded or does the company only recognise achievements?

I mentioned that company earlier whose employees volunteered in a soup kitchen once a month.  Remember?  Well, they also offer in-house manicures and massages.  They also have a ‘university’ that run various professional and personal training courses.  Employees can sign up for whatever they want, whenever they want and as often as they want.

Feeling looked after by your employer can go a long way.  If you feel like you are being cared for, perhaps you can put up with some of the other challenges.  Just a thought.

 

5.  Is staying put going to be detrimental to your future career?

Your CV is your story.  Does yours tell a good one?

Think beyond your job.  Think about your career.  When you go for that eventual promotion, will you have acquired the necessary experience?  If you think you might side-step into something else, are you developing the skills to help you do that?

The best CV’s are the ones that reflect you as an achiever instead of a doer.  You can tweak the language and content to optimise it.  But, you can only work with what you have.

Maybe you are thinking of a career change.  If so, this blog post on getting a job with no experience may help.

Therefore, moving on can be an investment in your career.

You may be happy where you are.  But staying there might lead to future frustration.

Your personal brand is something not to be ignored.  How you market yourself depends on what information you have at hand.  So think about that from now.  And ask yourself whether you are setting yourself up to create a strong personal brand.

 

what’s the verdict?

I hope that these ideas have given you food for thought.  Even better, if I have been able to help you find some answers that you have been searching for.  Even even better,  if you have been able to make an important decision about your career.

Our careers are important.  Whether you are a stay at home parent hoping to one day go back into full-time employment, an entrepreneur, or in a permanent job, being happy and fulfilled is crucial.

Sometimes staying in one place feels comfortable.  But remember that being comfortable is not the same as being happy.

What are your thoughts?

I’d love to hear about your experiences and ideas.  Have you recently quit your job?  Are you thinking about quitting your job?  Maybe you are a career specialist who can share some useful insights.

Please share them by commenting below.

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Pride & Prejudice: Character Analysis

pride and prejudice character analysisReading Time: 6 minutes

 

Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is a novel that is centred around the Bennet family and explores their relationships and paths they take in life. The characters are an integral part of the book.

The Bennet’s

The Bennet’s consist of Mr and Mrs Bennet and their five daughters Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia.

*Mr & Mrs Bennet*

This husband and wife duo are a humorous couple due to Mrs Bennet’s simplicity coupled with Mr Bennet’s dry humour, sarcasm and wit.

Mrs Bennet is a simple woman who dedicates her attention to ensuring that her daughters are married and busies herself in idle gossip.  She suffers a great deal from her “poor nerves” which are inflamed by almost any situation which is not to her liking, much to the amusement of Mr Bennet.  Lydia, the youngest who is closest to Kitty, are her favourites as they have plenty in common, namely the girls’ enjoyment of balls, flirting and chasing officers, all of which their mother encourages.

Mrs Bennet is “a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper…The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.”

Mr Bennet, however, is a solemn and private man who spends most of his time in his library and only interacts with his family when needed.  His favourite is Elizabeth (Lizzy) for whom he has the utmost respect, and by association, also respects Jane, the eldest.  He is so much an “odd mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve and caprice, that…three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character.”

Although Mr and Mrs Bennet’s relationship offer plenty of entertainment, it is shadowed by an element of sadness at their mismatch.  This is highlighted when Mr Bennet ensures that Lizzy is sure about marrying Mr Darcy by saying “let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life.”

The mismatch of Mr and Mrs Bennet is often reflected in their children, whereby Lizzy represents her father and Lydia represents her mother.  Lydia’s behaviour, in particular, is all too often the source of much embarrassment on the part of Lizzy, who realises the inappropriateness of it in certain social situations.

*Jane Bennet*

Jane, the beauty of the family, is the eldest Bennet daughters and has a close relationship to Elizabeth. Through their relationship, we learn a lot about Jane’s character, who is sensible, calm and good.  She always thinks the best of people and situations, sometimes much to her discredit like, when she refuses to believe that Wickham could be anything but good, an opinion which is severely disappointed through the course of the novel.  However, her ability to not always believe what is said about people also shows a good sense of judgment when she has faith in Darcy’s character when under attack by Wickham’s accusations which he divulges to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s comment to Jane when talking to her about her first impressions of Mr Darcy describes Jane’s character accurately – “You never see fault in anybody.  All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life.”

From early in the novel, Jane and Mr Bingley develop a romantic connection that takes the course of the entire novel to result in marriage.  Although she is a likable character, she is hard for the reader to connect with.  This is largely due to her inability to express anger or disappointment.  It makes her slightly unnatural and naive, especially when she decides to control her feelings towards Mr Bingley after thinking he is no longer interested in her.  Although, this can be attributed to her immaturity in comparison to the opinionated Lizzy, and her almost saintly behaviour is what makes this be her coping strategy for heartbreak.

*Elizabeth Bennet* 

Elizabeth Bennet, Lizzy, is the main character of the novel and her fiesty nature, opinions, anger and independence make her extremely likable.  She is a headstrong girl, an aspect which the reader naturally grows to admire, and is encouraged by her father.  Her mother dislikes many of her traits but one can’t but help feeling like this could be attributed to an element of jealousy towards her relationship with Mr Bennet.

She shares a close friendship with her eldest sister Jane, and takes the responsibility of her younger, more socially inept sisters, on her shoulders.  Often it is due to embarrassment, but it develops to be fuelled by her pride which is made stronger by Mr Darcy’s seemingly judgmental and snobbish character.

It is Elizabeth who travels through the most romantic journey in the novel with Mr Darcy, a relationship which is responsible for exposing the most of her character.  She has a quick temper which we see at the start when she is enraged by Darcy’s comments against dancing with her, and she is fast to decide what her opinion of him is.  We then see how stubborn she is which is coupled with her pride and unforgiving nature, when she then takes every opportunity possible to directly challenge Darcy’s character.

Although she sees her behaviour as a means to defend herself and be true to her pride, through her behaviour with Darcy, she shows a strong sense of character, which contrary to her wishes, encourages Darcy to fall in love with her.

Their romantic journey goes through an episode of vast misunderstanding when she is charmed by Wickham, who accuses Darcy of wrong doings, which unknown to her, are complete lies.  At seeing how she readily believes Wickham because of her opinions of Darcy, the very reasons why you admire her character as the reader, cause frustration, and Jane’s character, normally seen as being naive, holds more value.  Jane is open to their being an alternative version of events and is aware that they have only heard one side of the story, but Lizzy is convinced that he must be right about Darcy, simply based on appearances.  Consequently, she makes Darcy suffer for it.

Through the novel, we see growth in Lizzy’s character, unlike any other, when her pride is humbled when she realises she is wrong about Darcy.

*Mary Bennet*

Mary is a character who bores her sisters but entertains the reader.  She is not pretty and compensates by reading vastly and practicing her musical skills – but fails.  She interestingly enhances the theme of pride in the novel, through her vanity of her accomplishments and intelligence, whereby she tries to show it off at any opportunity she gets – much to the embarrassment of her sisters.

She is not a character who the reader is able to warm to, as she often displays a sense of coldness through her inability to tailor her moral statements to take into account the feelings of her listener.

However, when looking at the dynamics of the family, one does pity her, because unlike her sisters, she does not share a close bond with any of them, nor her parents.  And her isolated character alienates her further from every one around her.

*Kitty Bennet*

Kitty is the older of the duo that is formed with Lydia but is a passive character in comparison.  She is often influenced and led by her younger sister.  However, her lack of conviction and intelligence often means she is punished more so for actions which Lydia is accountable for.

Throughout the novel, we see her as a character that follows and leans on Lydia, but when Lydia marries, for the first time she is alone, and we are encouraged that she will, under the good influence of her older sisters, grow to be a fine young lady.

*Lydia Bennet*

Lydia is a vivasious, spoilt (by her mother) and an irresponsible character, who is a product of her mother’s encouragement, and her father’s lack of discipline or restraint.  It is this that ultimately makes her desires overcome her good sense through her elopment with Wickham.

She is a character who is selfish, which is greatly seen when she shows no gratitude towards Dary’s crucial involvement in marrying her to Wickham.  She has been raised so badly that she lacks social manners and awareness.  Once married, the reader anticipates that she will embark on a steep learning curve.

Mr Darcy

Mr Darcy is the unlikely hero of the novel.  He is initially seen as a proud and reserved man, but upon closer inspection, we see that this portrayal is largely contributed by his social shyness.

The first time he becomes a character who the reader may grow to like, is when he starts falling in love with Lizzy, as we see a softness to his otherwise hard exterior.  However, we realise that he has a lot of development yet to come before we can love him, when he realises that he “had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her [Elizabeth].  He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger.”

However, we learn about how those who know him intimately see a different side to him, through his housekeeper and inadvertently, through his friendship with the friendly and good Mr Bingley.  We also see him be humbled by his love for Elizabeth when he realises that the nature of his original proposal to her was by no means flattering but instead condescending, and he finally loses his social snobbery.

We also see his depth of compassion towards his family through his close relationship with his sister, his continual support for Wickham, in honour of his late father’s wishes and when he and Elizabeth marry, we feel confident that they will have the best relationship of all the characters in the book.

This article has explored the main characters in the novel, but as with any great novel, Pride and Prejudice features many other prominent characters who add to the characterisation of the main ones, but also enhance the story.  Such characters are the arrogant and lonely Lady Catherine, Austen’s version of Dickens’ Miss Havisham, the comical yet annoying Mr Collins, the good natured Mr Bingley, the sly Miss Bingley and Miss Hurst, the materialistic and traditional Charlotte Lucas and the dishonest and shameful Mr Wickham.  

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7 Secrets Of Getting A Job With No Experience

Get a job with no experienceReading Time: 7 minutes

How do you get a job with no experience?  

You have finally decided what career path you want to take.   But every job requires experience.  And you can’t get experience without a job. 

I know how it feels.

Currently, I am on my fourth career change.  Yup, fourth.  It’s not that I am indecisive.  But as my life has evolved, so has what I want.

Gone are my training, project management and secondary school teaching days.  Gone are the days where I’m priming myself for the next rung of the career ladder.

These days, I think about what lifestyle I want.  And work backwards from that.

I make it happen by having a portfolio career.  I’m a freelance writer, educator and musician.  And it works.

 

So, how did I get new jobs without any experience?

 

getting a job with no experienceI’ve worked with clients who want to make a career change, but don’t know what to switch to.

I’ve also worked with clients who do know what they want but have no idea how to go about it.

The thing they all had in common is that they underestimated their existing skills set.

Step 1:  Believe in yourself.

 

1.  Think About Transferable Skills

Transferable skills.  We all have them.

When I qualified from university, I had no professional experience to shout about.

But I did get all my assignments in on time.  That proved that I could meet hard deadlines.  I had malaria two weeks before my final exams.  I still took them.  That demonstrated my resilience.  Achieving top marks in group projects showcased my team working skills.

Regardless of your professional history, you have transferable skills.

Shine a spotlight on them.

A great way to do this is to draw up a table like the one below.

Job experience mapping

On the left, list all of the typical requirements of a job vacancy.  Be as detailed as possible.

On the right, map your experience to them.  No-one but you will look at this.  So stretch if you need to.

If some boxes on the right-hand side column are blank, don’t worry.  Use your inexperience to show your motivation to learn.  If you can prove that you are a fast learner, then say it.

 

2.  Be Proactive About Getting Experience

You may not get well-paid experience (you might not even get paid), but you can seek opportunities to gain some.

But a word of advice.  If you are going for a career change, don’t quit your old job before having a plan.

making a career change
Image courtesy of EarnMyDegree.com – A 7-Step Plan To Changing Your Career

One of my clients, Rosalind had been a teacher for over twenty-five years.  She wanted a career change into adult education.  But she had no experience.  And she had a mortgage to pay.

Together, we looked for local adult education centres.

She got in touch with them and asked whether she could volunteer for a couple of evenings a week.  Of course, they said yes.

Rosalind gained relevant experience without putting herself or family at risk.

Plus, her teaching experience was an asset to the adult education centre.  Simply through volunteering, she established contacts who could recommend her and provide references.

If you are not sure what career to switch to, try taking some career tests.

Here are some free online tools:

  • Sokanu – career matching through quick-fire questions.  Warning: takes a while.
  • Career-Test – a quick series of multiple choice questions.
  • Prospects – their career planner and job match tools use your skills and motivations.

If you are in a position where you do not need to earn, look for apprenticeships and internships.

Internships are offered by some companies.  They offer an insight into the main components of a job.  Usually, they are not paid positions.

Apprenticeships tend to be longer term than internships.  Usually, the company who employs you will pay you and train you according to their guidelines.

 

3.  Start Networking

Networking isn’t just for entrepreneurs.  And it isn’t about schmoozing.

Sometimes, who you know can be just as valuable as what you know.

I found a great way of transitioning into my freelance career, was by building a professional network of like-minded people on LinkedIn.

Don’t leave your past behind though.  Ask for recommendations from previous employers, colleagues and teachers.  You could even ask for recommendations from family and friends.  A testimonial can go a long way.

linkedin recommendations
Here are some recommendations on my LinkedIn profile. Build trust with future employers.

Social media can be an effective way of building your professional network.  Join Facebook groups.  Follow influential Twitterers.

Another great tip is to sign up for some forums.  Sharing your trials and tribulations with others could result in gaining some useful tips.  And contacts.

An example of a forum is Overclockers UK.  You can see on this thread, people are discussing their career-change journeys.

 

4. Balance Ambition With Realism

There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious.  But if you don’t have any experience, then aim realistically.

Note, that I use the word realistically.  Not low.

Being realistic about your goals isn’t the same as aiming low.

For instance, when I switched from IT Training to Project Management, it was a big jump.  But not an unrealistic one.  I had managed training projects.  So project management was a natural extension of my skills.

Your aim right now is to gain experience.  Even if you don’t start your dream job, you need to invest your time in getting there.

What if you are not sure what level you should be aiming for?

Career Goals

The skills matching process I showed you in the Transferable Skills section should help.

Find a range of jobs and do this exercise with each one.  You will soon see which ones you are over-qualified for, under-qualified for, and which ones are just right.

Making some speculative applications is also a useful way of trying your luck at getting jobs with no experience.

What I mean by this, is find companies you would like to work for.  Even if they do not have suitable vacancies, write to them.  You never know, if they like you, they might create a job for you.

Here’s a five-step method to make a speculative application:

  1. List some companies that interest you.
  2. Create a tailored CV and cover letter.
  3. Find out who the hiring manager is and address him/her personally in your letter.
  4. Ask whether there are any entry-level positions available.
  5. Follow up by calling them to check that they received your application.

You might find that you get very few responses.   But even if you do not get a job out of it, you should get useful feedback.

 

5.  Is Applying Anyway A Waste or Investment Of Time?

I’ve talked about ways to gain experience and making speculative applications.

But the golden question I want to ask you is this.  If you find a job where the competition is high, should you apply?   What about if you find one that requires different experience to yours?

I wouldn’t advise applying to every single job you come across.  Given the time it takes to prepare a tailored application, this could be a waste of time.

Also, you risk damaging your personal brand.  What do I mean by this?

Well, your applications might land on the laps of the same recruiters.  Or even employers.  If they are bombarded by applications to unsuitable jobs for you, they’ll remember you – for the wrong reason.

Think of it as a form of spamming.

But, what if you come across an entry-level position but don’t meet all the requirements?

I’d go for it anyway.

You see, any employer looking to hire someone at that level, won’t be expecting vast amounts of experience.

So if you apply for an entry-level position, chances are that the competition won’t be as fierce.  Which increases your chance of success.  Also, they will want someone who is adaptable and ready to learn.

That’s you.

 

6.  You Are A Leader

You may not have been a manager or supervisor in your past life.

But you do have leadership skills.

leadership skills in career

Whether you have set personal goals, met deadlines for large projects or project managed a house move, you can demonstrate leadership skills.

The very fact that you are working hard to enter a new career demonstrates self-leadership.

Shout about it!

Don’t just mention what qualification you attained.  Write about how it impacted your professional development.  Talk about how it helped you develop as a person.

Be proud of being curious about new jobs – it shows you are open to change.  A crucial trait for entering a new career.

 

7.  Arm Yourself With Skills And Qualifications

believe in yourselfNowadays there are many online paths you can take to retrain or refresh existing skills.

Lynda.com is a great website.  It hosts a huge library of training courses.  Some of them are certified.  Once you have completed them, you can add them to your LinkedIn profile.

If your chosen career path allows it, try to gain some freelance experience.  After all, showing an employer what you can do, is more effective than telling them.

You can showcase your work through a free WordPress or Wix site (or the like).  That way, you can include the link on your CV and online profiles.

 

Over to you – what tips do you have for getting a job with no experience?

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Social Status in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

great gatsby social statusReading Time: 2 minutes

In ‘The Great Gatsby’, social status is an extremely significant element.  It distinguishes geographical locations in the novel but more importantly, portrays the mentalities of people belonging to different social class’.  This affects the events that occur and moulds many of the characters.

The characters in the novel are distinguished by their wealth and where they live or work and are separated by the different settings within the novel.  East Egg reflects a high-class society where the inhabitants are inherently wealthy, referred to as “old money”. The inhabitants are Ivy League educated and they feel contempt towards the “new money”, this is, West Egg. The people of West Egg are wealthy but have only become rich recently. The inhabitants live here mostly because they cannot afford to live in East Egg, namely Jay Gatsby and Nick. The Valley of Ashes is inhabited by people who are poorer and can be seen as the victims of the rich.

The way wealth affects the social status is illustrated by Jay Gatsby. He does not come from a wealthy background but is self-taught in business and becomes wealthy, and is therefore, able to mingle with people of higher class. Although he cannot fit into East Egg his object of affection, Daisy, will not even attend his parties.  He is still accepted in a level of society who never would have accepted him in his poorer days.

Gatsby thinks he can impress Daisy with his house and collection of clothes. Daisy does become impressed with this which shows that even though she would deem herself as upper class, she loves wealth, be it old or new.

Social status and wealth, which we can establish go hand in hand, also mould characters and their happiness with their situations. For example, Myrtle Wilson, who lives in the Valley of Ashes hates her life at the gas station and idolises the city life where she sees money and glamour. She allows this dream of what she thinks will make her happy to affect her identity, demonstrated by her mimicking what she has read in Town Tattle through the decoration of her apartment.

It shows a sad view on how social status affects the characters as her husband George has devoted his whole life working trying to make her happy but is unable to do so and loses everything for her.

Although ‘The Great Gatsby’ can be seen as an intriguing love story that ends in tragedy, it is a novel that explores 1920’s America from a political angle. Fitzgerald reflects social status through geographical locations in America and distinguishes them by their traits, lifestyles and mentalities.