11/06/2013 08:36 BST | Updated 08/10/2013 07:07 BST

Using An Improving Jobs Market To Consider A Career Change

The jobs market is picking up speed, according to the quarterly Report on Jobs published this week. More permanent vacancies are being filled than at any time in the last year and a half.

It's encouraging news but of course there have already been a few false starts in the economy over the past couple of years so we need to treat these findings with caution. But it does remind us that one day, maybe sooner than we think, the long, hard employment winter will come to an end.

One of the most noticeable consequences of the recession, from a careers professional's point of view, has been the decline in numbers of people looking for a career change. The attitude at the moment, which is quite understandable, is that if you have a job, hang onto it. It doesn't matter whether it's a job that you are blatantly unsuited to, that makes you feel miserable or undervalued or that doesn't reward your talents adequately. Caution dictates that this is not the time to contemplate a move. It's a great contrast from pre-2008 when we all expected to be working in careers that motivated and stimulated us, when many of us were prepared to invest energy and resources to find that ideal career.

Now, a modest upturn in the jobs market does not mean that you should throw all caution to the wind, give up your job (if you are lucky enough to have one) and look for a better one. But equally, being over cautious is not a good thing, you can't remain in one place for ever. Better news from the job market might mean that you can start thinking about a change, and at very least begin to gather the information you need to make a successful transition.

A successful career is one in which you play to your strengths and work at something you believe in. Making a successful career change means, first and foremost, understanding your strengths and defining what you believe in to the extent that you want to spend your working life trying to achieve it. In other words a successful career change is based on self-knowledge. You use that knowledge to examine alternative careers and work out which may be the best for you. Working out what you want doesn't commit you to making a change, but it makes the process much easier when you are ready to move on.

Even though the jobs market has a long way to go before it returns to its pre-recession buoyancy, if your long term plan is to make a career change there is no reason why you shouldn't start that process of self-knowledge now. You can find free materials that will help you to define your key personal attributes on this site or the National Careers Services website. Planning a career change takes time, but just beginning the process will help you feel that there is light at the end of the tunnel. And knowing that you are beginning to do something about it should help you to cope with a job you don't enjoy, far more easily.