A View From Up Here - New Year, New Start


I knew it was probably time to go back to work when I found myself cleaning out my cutlery drawer on Sunday the 5th of January. A clear sign I was ready to go back to work despite how hard it was to get out of bed when the alarm went off at 6.40am on Monday morning.

For many of my clients and candidates January is just about their busiest time with tax return deadlines and year ends. How naive we were back in 1997 when we thought the advent of Self Assessment would mean that clients would become more organised and that the work would spread across the year. It’s a busy time in recruitment too as clients have new budgets for staffing and candidates come back from the Christmas holidays with a New Year’s Resolution to change jobs and get their career on track. In fact I find any major holiday tends to prompt a flurry of applications.

When you are on holiday you have time to reflect on your life, if you are dreading returning to work, it’s a wake up call telling you to make changes. Most of us are so busy dealing with our day to day existence that it takes a break or holiday to give us the impetus and energy to change. It’s probably why we all resolve to get fit after Christmas.

I wondered if there is a similar in uplift of applications to sign on to do a professional qualifications. I asked the Association of Tax Technicians and the Chartered Institute of Taxation if there was any correlation between holidays, the New Year and new applications.

An Eduction Team member said’’I’ve had a look at all of the ATT, CTA and Joint Programme applications we received last year (not ADIT, Foundation or VAT Compliance). The graph below covers all of the applications that were approved last year. Typically, June and December are the busiest months for registrations as these are the deadlines to register if you want to sit in the May and November exams respectively.

January is normally very quiet but we see a large chunk of registrations in September.’’


By the way, I feel very grown up adding a graph to a blog – even though all the credit for creating it must go to Elliott! So although the graph contradicts my theory as it shows that there is a big dip in applications in January (which I put down to busy season and people waiting for exam results), it clearly starts rising from February. September is also interesting – it’s a classic ‘new start’ time that fits around the end of the summer holidays, beginnings of new terms and also at ATT trainees joining accountancy firms.

Holidays give us the time to brush up and update our CV’s and think about life goals such as relocation to be closer to friends and family, or the desire to go part time or change the direction of our career. When I look back at the time’s I changed jobs it always seemed to happen around a holiday. When I first moved in to recruitment from tax - I did my interview the day I flew out to Canada on holiday, got the offer while I was on holiday and came back and resigned starting my new role in recruitment in September.

Everyone has a bit of dread going back to work after a long break, it’s doesn’t necessarily mean you are in the wrong job, but if after your first day back you are still dreading the next day then you do need to think about what changes you can make. Is it the job itself or the person you work for? Is it that you are bored and not challenged? Or is it that actually you feel out of your depth. Is it a problem client that you hate dealing with? Is it therefore something you can change? Can you ask for training, a portfolio reallocation, can you move teams internally? Can you ask for more of the work you enjoy? Is it really the role that is unsatisfying or is it other areas of your life that are impacting on your overall sense of worth or depression.

I always suggest that you try and make changes in the firm or business you currently work in before approaching the external market. It’s much better to try and get a promotion internally than get offers elsewhere and then use them as leverage for promotion. Similarly it’s always worth checking with your current employer whether you can relocate with them.

Sometimes a holiday or a sabbatical are what we need to make a big change, they help boost our resilience and give us time to recalibrate. One word of warning though almost every person I know who has taken a sabbatical of over 6 months from tax or tax recruitment has ended up leaving the profession totally! Tax’s loss has become teaching, literature, music, retail and the charitable sector’s gain.