Finding a new job: First steps
Most of us have stuck in roles for too long, not quite ready to make the leap, no longer motivated. The new year brings a moment of reflection and now is the time to start assessing your prospects. Time for a new job?
Why aren’t you happy in your current role?
If you’re going to go through the stress of finding a new job it’s important to understand what’s wrong at the moment so you don’t end up in an identical situation. Your experience is good and bad for a myriad of reasons and sometimes these can become confused. Firstly establish whether you enjoy the role itself. Do your day-to-day tasks give you pleasure? Do you have a sense of achievement that you are doing something useful or interesting? If not, then think about how your role could be good, presuming of course you’re not looking for a total career change.
The majority of people look for new jobs because of other issues including a long commute, workplace culture, lack of rapport with colleagues, lack of promotion opportunities, poor management, long hours etc. It’s important to recognise these things because it provides an easy way of shortlisting your prospective new roles. If the commute is your main problem then you need to stipulate that you have a 40-minute commute limit or must be home by 7 pm, for example.
Don’t rush into a new job
Unfortunately, lots of people end up quitting before really making a plan. When you make the decision to leave your current role it’s common to develop a sense of urgency. When you know you’re leaving every day becomes a chore and if we’re being honest, quality can slide. As soon as you start sensing that the job is not for the long haul, start doing your research.
You may want to reach out to recruiters to make sure you’re on the radar and discuss the opportunities that fit your skillset, you may just want to check out the job boards and get a feel for the current market. Remember there’s nothing stopping you from staying in your current role if it’s just a blip. Sometimes you need to look elsewhere to realise how much you like your job. In an ideal world, you will plan a gentle transition to your new, perfect job. In reality, try to avoid quitting suddenly with no plan and ending up in a job you hate even more!
What do you want from your new job?
It’s unlikely that your ‘perfect’ job is just an application away and there is always some element of compromise. Make sure you’re compromising on the less important stuff. When companies or recruiters write job descriptions they will include the ‘essential’ requirements and the ‘desirable’. You should do the same.
What is essential in terms of salary and hours and what is desirable? You may have to do the school run at least twice a week (essential) but it would be great if you could start work at 9.15 am so you could drop them off every day (desirable). What is important in terms of career progression? Is specific training leading to promotion in your pay grade a must? Perhaps even opportunities to work abroad? What do you want and what do you need from your new job? Only you can answer this.
Is there anything you can do in your current role to build your experience?
Start looking at the job boards and identifying roles you’d be interested in. Note down any experience required that you’re not too confident about, look at the desirable skills that you don’t have and think about how to gain these. Finding a new job can be a slow process that can last 6 months or even a year if you’re ‘sort of happy’ in your current position.
If you find the same qualification or specific experience coming up in multiple adverts are you able to build on these in your current role? You may tailor your CPD programme or even do a distance learning course to get up to speed. You may be able to get involved in a project that would develop your leadership skills or take on a role outside of work that could boost your CV. Lead a tree-planting project in your local community or provide a mentoring service? Take the time to get in the best position possible to enter the scary world of applications.