Lindsey answers your questions on career change

Dear 3rdi
I am so fed up in my job. I only do it for the money and whilst this was fine when my kids were growing up, they are away from home now and I want to do something during the day that I actually enjoy. The only problem is that the money still matters! Having been with my employer for over 20 years, I feel like I would be giving up a lot by getting a new job elsewhere and starting from scratch. Is that right?

Emily, Gloucester

Dear Emily,
You are stuck in the trap that many people fall into. The thing is that most people don’t actually do anything about it and just stick it out until something forces a change, such as retirement, or redundancy or the employer going into liquidation. So congratulate yourself first of all for actually thinking seriously about doing something different.

From the point of view of finding another job, think about the skills you have built up in your old job and how they might be transferable to a new post, even if it is in a completely different environment. You don’t necessarily have to take a pay decrease just because you are doing something new. Businesses benefit from people coming in who have different experiences elsewhere, so make a note of all of the areas in which you think you could make a valuable contribution. Find a really good recruitment agency or employ the services of an outplacement provider who will help you with this process and will help you make the most of your CV. Keep reminding yourself about how valuable you are.

As far as what you are giving up is concerned, remind yourself of all the bad points that you will be giving up. Maintain your list of pros and cons and that should help you remember why you are doing this.

Now onto the down side. Whilst there aren’t an awful lot of things nowadays which reward very long service, there are four key areas that you would definitely have to think about. Firstly, consider your current pension provision. Are you in a final salary pension scheme? If so, then it is likely that if you leave and find another job elsewhere, then you won’t be able to replace that like-for-like. So few employers now run final salary pension schemes for new members that unless you decide to go into the public sector, you will be highly unlikely to get another final salary scheme.

Secondly, you will lose your employment protection (ie the ability to claim unfair dismissal if you are dismissed without a fair reason and a fair procedure being followed). That will take one year to build up again, which really isn’t long. If you do go through a recruitment agency and your new employer has paid a fee for hiring you, then it is highly unlikely that they will want to lose you in the first year anyway, so take some comfort from that. Also, you don’t need to have a year’s service in order to obtain protection from discrimination, so you will have some rights. Try to make sure that you negotiate the longest notice period that you can so that if your employment is terminated you at least either have some notice of that (giving you time to find another job), or you receive a lump sum for the notice period.

Thirdly, if you think that your current employer is likely to make people redundant soon, then it might be an idea to wait and see if that happens. Length of service does affect the amount of any redundancy payment you receive, so if you have 20 years service, that could be quite valuable, depending on the redundancy scheme that your employer runs. If they don’t have an enhanced redundancy payment scheme though, then you will only receive the statutory maximum of (currently) £380 for each year of service age 40 and under or £570 for each year of service over age 41. You would receive that tax-free, which isn’t to be sniffed at with 20 years service under your belt!

Lastly, remember that you might have hidden benefits with your employer which might be hard to replace, such as critical illness insurance cover or life assurance. All of these things add up, so check what you have and check how much it will cost you to replace them if your new employer doesn’t replicate the benefits. Factor that all in when you are deciding whether the move is worth it.

Having done all of this, if a complete change doesn’t stack up for you, then speak to your employer about the possibility of an internal move or a secondment to a customer or supplier. It might well be that life in a different area of the business would be more interesting for you. If you have a final salary pension though, just be careful about accepting a pay decrease as this will have an impact on your pension. It might cost less in the long-run to just leave and start a new pension elsewhere.

Best of luck!
Lindsey

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