The planning sector is currently experiencing notable growth in the number of opportunities arising across the spectrum of experience and throughout the UK. It is fantastic to see so many new and exciting opportunities arise, but for planners it can also be difficult to know (particularly for those of us who remember the impact of the recession) when the time is right to seize such new opportunities.
It seems, at least from my experience as a recruiter in the sector, that there is a wide array of factors in making a decision to move jobs, and I would always encourage those contemplating a fresh challenge to consider three key points:
-Are you being challenged enough?
-Will a new post give you a wider breadth of experience?
-Are you being rightly rewarded?
The last thing I want to see are planners spending as long in their jobs as our housing ministers seem to (although they can’t always be blamed for that!) but I am a firm believer in deciding to take a new job for the right reasons. I appreciate that moving jobs is a personal decision and cannot be solely decided by these three questions. But I would stress that whether you are moving for greater flexibility, to relocate, or so on, that you still consider the challenge, your experience and the reward.
Are you being challenged enough? Planners play a crucial role in shaping our communities and with this comes a huge responsibility but also a fantastic opportunity to embrace a wide variety of challenges across our towns and cities. For example, have you gained experience of working on high-density residential schemes? Have you worked with a local authority to regenerate an area and make drastic improvements? Have you played a part in easing the housing crisis we face? Every project poses a challenge and I would always consider the challenges your current role and your new role will test you with. Planners are problem solvers – a skill too often forgotten by those outside of the sector – meaning I would advise anyone looking for a new role to remember that feeling challenged, whilst sometimes rather stressful, can prove extremely rewarding!
Will this provide you with a wider breadth of experience? Experience is gained not only from the work that you undertake but also the environments you work in. Working within a local authority can vary massively across London boroughs, city councils and more rural councils with each creating new experiences for planners that will benefit them. Notably, gaining experience in both the public and private sector can be hugely beneficial with many of my clients in the private sector seeking individuals who can appreciate the challenges of working on behalf of the local authority. If you wish to focus on developing your career within the private sector then I would always suggest experiencing the different options available to you. Working within an independent planning consultancy, a property consultancy or a multi-disciplinary consultancy throws up unique challenges and opportunities for you to gain experience of different projects but also people and other professions. Broadening your experience across this wide array is difficult without becoming a regular mover (not something I am recommending!) but each option poses a great learning opportunity for you to become a better planner.
Lastly, are you being rightly rewarded? Disclaimer – this is not just about remuneration! Whilst pay is often a factor in the final decision it is not always the main motivator for change. Salaries, bonuses and benefits have improved recently with many employers appreciating the need to provide greater flexibility, promoting healthy work/life balances and rewarding employees with the profits they generate. However, reward for many is also in the form of recognition. Is your career progressing as it should be? Planners are needed across both the public and private sectors with many employers now recognising the positive impact of their planners and rewarding them with much deserved praise and, importantly, promotion. Progress is something we all desire but it can be surprising how often this is not recognised, if you don’t feel that you are receiving the right reward then it is not wrong to begin deciding whether the time is right to find the right environment for you.
Jason Moore is principal consultant at recruitment consultancy Blayze Group