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Should I quit my cushy, safe job for a riskier one?

The Question:

I currently work as a bilingual customer service representative (CSR) with a medical company and have been there for five years. I make $52,000 with a 5-per-cent bonus, four weeks vacation and a great health plan. Although this is a secure and low-stress position, I am bored and there are no growth opportunities.

I have the opportunity to land a position as a recruiter – something I have always wanted to do.

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Do you think it is a good idea at this time to become a recruiter? I know I am giving up something "comfy and secure" for something unknown, but I could make a lot more money and it could be more rewarding. I am a little scared to leave a good job with a good company, just because I am bored and need a change. I am also over 50 and so need to look to my future.

The Answer:

It is quite common to become bored and too comfortable in a long-term job. But I am curious to know whether you would be as interested in the recruiter job if you were not bored and comfortable in your current position.

Consider whether it is possible to become more engaged with and excited about your current job. Have you talked to your boss or other senior officials about new projects or other opportunities? Since you are interested in recruiting, does your current company need a recruiter or HR representative who knows the CSR side of the business?

If you are not able to breathe life into your current position or find another position in your company that engages you more, then you have more clarity around your choice. It sounds like you are excited about becoming a recruiter. You say that it is always something that you wanted to do. Know that it is natural to experience fear when looking at moving from a safe, secure position to a new, unknown position. You will want to manage your fears and resistance around this.

Explore the opportunities (the offer before you and others). Do your research on recruiters and various recruitment firms. Check their websites. Look for reports, news articles and blogs on recruiting. Speak to a number of recruiters and their clients.

Ask the recruiters about their positions: What they love, what they tolerate, what they hate, and what they would want to change. Find out how the economy has affected the recruiting companies and their bottom lines. Ask the recruiters if they had to do it over again, would they become a recruiter? Speak to other CSRs who have become recruiters. Ask them the same questions. Also pose these questions to recruiter professional interest groups on social media sites such as LinkedIn.

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Go for a number of interviews – formal and informal with recruiting companies. Be prepared to interview them as much as they interview you. Find out about the roles and responsibilities of a recruiter, as well as the compensation, benefits, pension plans and vacation time. Find out about opportunities for growth and development. Also ask whether you need any additional training and if they will provide or fund training courses.

Compare the recruiting positions to your current position. Be aware of what you are gaining, maintaining, or giving up by becoming a recruiter. Develop a pros-and-cons list for your current position and the various opportunities you have. Trust your intuition and your gut reaction to the positions and the companies. If you get a good sense about the recruiting company, the pros outweigh the cons with respect to compensation, benefits and security, and there is room for growth with the recruiting company, then you have your answer.

But make sure that you maintain a good relationship with your current employer. It can provide a safety net if things do not work out with the recruitment company or, if they do, a potential new client.

Bruce Sandy is principal of and Pathfinder Coaching & Consulting in Vancouver.

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