With his job as a data analyst at Bell Canada in Calgary winding down, Jeff Moyer did some hard thinking about what his next career step would be.
"I had the chance to move on to another department in Bell, but it might have been for just a year and I'd probably have to move again," says Mr. Moyer, 31.
"I decided that if working for a big company doesn't offer security, what am I really risking by giving my own company a shot and doing what I really want to do? I looked at this as a window of opportunity to start up a company on my own," he says.
So in August he left Bell and founded Calgary Web Design Network in his home. "So far, so good," he says. "It's kept its head above water and I haven't looked back at the corporate world."
And he's hardly alone. This year's tough job market has made an increasing number of Canadians think about alternatives to climbing the career ladder, a new opinion survey finds.
More than a third of Canadians said the recession has made them rethink their career strategy and 28 per cent said they have decided to find ways to potentially turn their personal interests, including hobbies and volunteer work into money-making pursuits, according to research from Angus Reid released yesterday. The online survey, commissioned by American Express, included 1,003 Canadian adults who have yearly household incomes over $50,000. Participants included people from all Canadian provinces except Quebec.
"It's far more than dabbling in a hobby or passing interest - it's really about chasing your personal dreams," says Jeremy Gutsche, a Toronto-based consultant on the project and author of the book Exploiting Chaos, about finding opportunity in unsettled times.
When asked which aspect of their lives means most to them, 45 per cent of those surveyed said time with family or friends is their highest priority, 17 per cent chose living a healthy lifestyle, and 15 per cent identified rich life experiences. Among the balance of responses, just 9 per cent said making as much money as possible was their top goal, while only 7 per cent said their career success was their highest motivator.
Although this was the first time the survey was done, the percentage of people considering dropping off the corporate ladder to explore alternative avenues toward personal fulfilment and success is far higher than it might have been even a year ago, says Mr. Gutsche, who runs a marketing research website, http://www.trendhunter.com.
Factors he cites include: There is less perceived security in corporate jobs than there was pre-recession and the growth of the Internet makes it possible for startup entrepreneurs to reach a broad market for services and products.
"This lateral thinking about careers also fits with trends we have been seeing in other aspects in the economy. We are seeing a rise in cultural and volunteer vacations rather than sightseeing, and a rise in crafts work," he says.
"It's clear when the recession struck, many people started evaluating their job versus others things in their lives and building the skill sets to find ways to support themselves if their jobs disappear," Mr. Gutsche says.
"And those who did lose their jobs are using this as an opportunity to earn side income and potentially turn it into a rewarding career."
Mr. Gutsche points out that economic shakeups are often sources of opportunity to start new businesses. Examples of successful companies founded during past economic recessions include Apple, Burger King, IBM, Bristol Myers Squibb and Hewlett-Packard.
Over all, the poll found Canadians are upbeat, with 80 per cent of women and 74 per cent of men saying they believe they will be able to reach their full potential in their lives. And 89 per cent of women and 84 per cent of men said they are optimistic about the future.
The idea of pursuing fulfilment outside the office is a global trend, according to a second survey conducted in Canada, Australia and Britain as a companion to the poll by Angus Reid.
Among the findings: 46 per cent of Australians want to learn a new skill and 37 per cent want to face a new mental or physical challenge at work. 45 per cent of Australians said they would do more if they had more time.
21 per cent of respondents in Great Britain said their career defines their success and just 16 per cent said they feel they are realizing their full potential.
80 per cent in Britain say the recession is making them re-evaluate what matters in their lives.
Source: The Future Laboratory, London, England (survey done for American Express)