The year is 2015 and after months of contemplating, I arranged a meeting with my manager to formally hand in my resignation. I did so after almost 5 years working for the company and didn’t have a plan B. I didn’t have a job lined up but had a 3-month notice period to figure things out.
The job offered all I was looking for and more. Big company, good pay, promotions, annual bonuses and opportunities to work on exciting projects. I felt so happy that I got married there and had a baby. Most importantly made some life long friends who I still keep in touch with.
My work ethic and commitment got me recognized by superiors and I got promoted several times over the years. Opportunities came up to chair interviews and eventually recruited for my own team.
I had people reporting into me and that’s when I knew I had made it. I was a manager not just by title but by responsibility and it felt good. For the first time, I was responsible for the career of another person and I took it seriously. Regular 121s and PDPs to ensure they move up in their career.
The Turning Point
From the outside, all was well and I was living the dream. In less than 5 years, I had gone from an Analyst to a Lead Analyst with with direct reports. I moved to a different department to head their campaign team. I knew what I was doing and was the guy people came to when they wanted work completed. The sense of importance drove me daily and I loved it.
Deep down, I knew I had made it but felt stagnate. I wasn’t learning anything new and was doing similar things every quarter. Worked in marketing automation all my career and wasn’t an expert at anything. Went along when companies changed platforms and I just learned the new thing. I built campaigns using SQL, Oracle Eloqua, Adobe and Marketing Cloud.
I had seen so many people leaving for new senior roles. With the predictability of re-organisations, I knew things will change at some point. You can either go with the change and make a change of your own.
There was nothing unique about me and the more I worked with colleagues who enjoyed their job, the more I realized something different. They were specialists in their field. They stayed in a particular technical field and became the best at it. When they changed roles, they always went for a more senior role within that field.
I had always adapted to change but certain changes act as the catalyst to make a career move and take a leap of faith.
Time For Change
In late 2015, I had been using Oracle Eloqua for 3 years and I was the go-to guy. Now, the company was going in a new direction. Something within me asked; “why not offer my specialist skills to another company?”. I didn’t want to stay and learn the new thing.
I had a 3-month notice at the time and every company I had interviewed for were only willing to wait for a month. This wasn’t great for my job prospects. Just before my birthday in November of 2015, I made the decision to resign without a job in hand. It was a birthday present to myself, knowing that I had made a big decision which I had been putting off for a while.
At that point, I knew there was a demand for my skills but had no offer on the table. That was the biggest decision of my professional life and I can tell you, it was the best decision ever.
A New Beginning
A month before my notice ran out, I had an offer for a temporary role for 9 months and I went along with that.
It paid 20% more than I was on and that alone was worth it. It gave me so much confidence being the new go-to guy when the rest of my new team, had only started using the Eloqua platform.
I had found my joy and that showed to my team in the value I was able to provide. When it came to contract renewals, it was a no brainer and was able to negotiate new favourable terms. I had 4 extensions within the same company and each time, I was able to negotiate new terms; be it financial or flexible working conditions. That was something I would have never dreamed of or deemed possible while I was working as a permanent staff.
5 years of freelancing and I can say it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I would recommend it to anyone thinking about it to at least try it. Worst case scenario, if it doesn’t work, you can always go back to a perm role. The weight of regret is too heavy to carry around. I’ve worked with people who wished they had made the decision over a decade ago. Now, they are too close to retirement and the market is not paying too well for their skill set.
One thing I would say is, company loyalty doesn’t always pay. I’ve worked in teams where I was the youngest but had the most updated skills the company needed to move it forward. Most of my older colleagues have worked for their companies for 20-40 years. Most of them have stayed because they enjoyed the job security, lucrative company benefits or lacked the confidence in their skill set to be able to offer them on the open market for a competitive salary.
I’ve worked with people with 30 years of service to a company only to be made redundant because times had changed and they were no longer needed. Whole departments have been closed down and replaced with either software or offshore resource.
The question I will leave with you is, if you lose your job right now, how confident are you that another company will offer you a competitive salary for your skill set. If you work for a company as a permanent member of staff, know that you are self-employed as you are exchanging your skills to the company for remuneration. At the end of the month when the company has paid you for the work you’ve done, they are not obliged to keep you on if they no longer require your services.
My advice would be to specialize in the field you enjoy working in. Get certified and a year or two of committed study and experience will make you stand out from the crowd.
There are too many generic people in a highly competitive job market. Companies are looking for the best talent and location now is not as important as we see a rise in remote working.