At the start of your career, you can afford to take a few wrong turns.
You might join a company which, you later realise, you find too boozy, too patriarchal, too sporty, too serious. Maybe the work is not what you expected it to be, or it’s in the boondocks and the commute is a nightmare.
When you’re young and relatively unknown and have time on your side, you learn a lot from these blips on the career path. After a seemly amount of time, you get a new job and set off again on your merry way.
But as you start to climb towards your career potential, and find yourself in senior roles where you’re paid well for your expertise, the stakes get higher.
You’ll start to assess every job opportunity with a sharper lens. You won’t take a punt that you’ll like the people or the work; you’ll research to be sure. You’ll stop to consider not only whether this role and company are a good fit, but whether it takes you in the direction you want to go.
What would your ideal next role look like after this one? Will this role add weight to your CV when it comes time to apply for that next job? Or is there a different job you should pursue that would make you a slam-dunk for your eventual dream role?
At a senior level, the right move can offer a valued shortcut on your career trajectory.
However, all of this assumes an abundance of opportunity. What happens if there are very few roles in your industry or geographical location?
This is an issue we see a lot in regional New Zealand. Take Bay of Plenty, for example. The economy is fizzing. And yet, only a handful of companies in Tauranga have a staff of more than 300. This means there’s a perpetual scarcity of roles in some of the more common specialities, such as marketing, and there’s only the lightest sprinkling of roles available for those in highly-specialised areas, such as crisis media management or online purchasing software design.
The same paucity of options is evident at executive level. If you’re a team leader and you’d like to get into an executive management role, those openings will not come up every day.
For many executives, the busiest time of their careers coincides with a growing family. And once those families are established in great schools, have made friends and got sand between their toes, there’s little appetite to return to the Big Smoke. So local executives tend to cling to their coveted senior roles for as long as possible.
With few jobs and little movement in the market, you could be waiting a long time for an opening that’s a perfect fit.
All of this should be in the back of your mind when you decide to move to Regional New Zealand. Tauranga could be the making of your career – we’ve seen plenty of people get opportunities in a grunty regional company which would never have come their way in Auckland or Wellington.
Regional New Zealand offers an extraordinary lifestyle but if you’re an up-and-coming executive and you want to move here, you need to develop a strategy which takes into account the local executive job market.
That might mean a rough plan to move back to Auckland or Wellington in four to six years, or a conscious downsizing of career expectations in exchange for a brilliant lifestyle, or, a determination to take notice when opportunities arise – regardless of whether the timing fits with the carefully laid-out career plan you once enjoyed.