The new year is the perfect time to reconsider our career choices
Published: Dec 27, 2018 06:33 PM

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Yesterday I shared a table with two strangers at a restaurant during my lunch. For one hour they spoke to each other about their job hopping plans while I, the fly on the wall, quietly listened.

"My section head announced that we have to move to third- or even fourth-tiered cities to find new markets. But I won't leave Shanghai," one woman said. "My company is considering shifting our focus and an overall upgrade. Next year will be tough, so maybe I should I find a new job," the other said.

It's natural for people to reconsider their careers at the end of each year. But for these two strangers, it sounds like they have gotten too comfortable in their current jobs and are unwilling to explore new career and life opportunities.

But as a team leader myself, I would like to give some HR advice to anyone who, like these two, are unwilling to adapt to the market in these uncertain times. First, just because many top companies and high-level professions are based out of first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen doesn't necessarily mean that working out of such places is beneficial to your own personal career path.

Smaller cities now boast massive potential as industries look to expand out of first-tier regions and into the interior. Were some lower-level employees to relocate with their company to a smaller city, the experience they would gain there along with their seniority in the new market would make the company extremely dependent on them. They could use this as a stepping stone to climb the corporate ladder.

Second, embracing new challenges and pursuing new opportunities inside and outside your company is exactly the type of employee who is most desirable. Take my profession in the media as an example. In recent years this industry has witnessed tremendous changes and reforms as traditional print newspapers and magazines shut down and new media explodes.

I have many veteran media friends in Shanghai. Some have made smooth transitions from print-journalism to new-media. They were willing to ride the wave of technology, switching from old-fashioned reportage to online digital content where clicks, shares and likes reign supreme. In turn, their positions and salaries have risen.

Unfortunately, other media friends chose to stay in their old comfort zones and turn a blind eye to new media, thinking it was just some kind of passing fad for millennials. They refused to acknowledge that our profession - and the world itself - is evolving every day. They are resting on their laurels and old glory days back when people actually bought print newspapers and magazines. They buried their head in the sand and now they are no longer needed.

Third, you should always be willing to learn new things throughout life. Knowledge and skills related to your major or position are only as good as the company willing to pay you for them. If, for example, you once worked as a reporter but the only positions that are available in new media companies are, for example, WeChat account managers or video editing, then that is an indication that maybe you need to learn new things.

My above-mentioned friends were also divided about extra-curricular learning. Those who claimed that it was a waste of their time and money to invest in learning, for example, how to produce videos or promote social media posts are the ones who were not offered promotions or job interviews. Those who were now have job security.

Fourth and last, comfort zones are a trap! The more comfortable a job is, the more poisonous to your own profession it becomes. So-called easy money makes us lazy and less-competitive - and also more replaceable once bosses find someone else who is not only more eager to try new things but also willing to work cheaper than you. Making oneself irreplaceable should always be your biggest priority.

Anyone who doesn't listen to the above advice will only learn through their failures. So I wish them good luck next year.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.