How can you know when it makes sense to move forward into a new job opportunity? How do you know when it’s time for a job change?
Do you like your employer but feel ready to search for a different role or want the opportunity to diversify your skillset? Perhaps you’re looking to find the same type of position at a new organization. One whose culture better aligns with your values or vision for growth?
Have you been let go by your employer? There might be an occasion in your career that your position is subject to a merger, acquisition, or consolidation. Does the resulting shift in responsibilities since being hired cause you to question whether your reshaped job is still the right mutual fit?
Maybe you’re feeling the ambiguous itch to grow into a job opportunity beyond the story your resume tells to date? Where do you go from here?
Taking Charge of the Change
Our nature is to take action when we face a season of restlessness or a change is imposed upon us. To see what else is out there. Switching companies and positions into a new job opportunity inevitably require change. We feel some measure of control in having made the conscious decision to step into something new.
Change can be unsettling but can also provide the chance to reflect on long-term goals. Does your current career and other activities move you closer to or further from your objectives?
Taking time to assess what’s important to you can help reinforce your “why” and serves as an invaluable practice that will come in handy throughout the many crossroads of your life’s journey.
Regardless of the reason(s) for your search, it’s important to name what you’ve gained personally and professionally thus far that makes sense to carry with you. And, to define what tasks and responsibilities you’d like to leave behind.
Hold on to What You’ve Got
If you have the benefit of working while exploring options, it’s worth it to hang onto your job until you’ve made the determination where to move next. In most cases, it’s easier to find a job when you have a job. Additionally, you can avoid having to explain resume gaps to recruiters and hiring managers during the networking and interviewing phases of your search.
As with any major decision where change is guaranteed, risks are inevitable. Taking time to conduct due diligence on any new job opportunity by looking into a potential employer’s history and vision is vital.
However, defining first for yourself what you want to gain and what you hope to offer in the next position is the first step. Only then should you ask questions of the recruiter/your potential future colleagues and team leader(s) about where a company is headed. And how your vision and experience can be mutually beneficial.
Where to Begin? Factors to Consider Before Making a Leap
Where did you get your education? Don’t overlook readily available tools to help you determine the best way to pivot. When going through transitions I’ve sought out my undergraduate alma mater’s Career Development Center and received responses that included:
- Helpful book recommendations that have helped me to name my interests, skills, and passions
- The link for an online career network that connects many university students and alums with hiring managers (check: here to see if your alma mater participates) and
- Career and goal setting website links that help match my experience with job type descriptions, salary ranges, and growth potential across different industries.
Is your LinkedIn profile up to date and enticing for the recruiters looking to place you in a job?
Are your other socials free of embarrassing reels or photographic evidence of embarrassing extracurriculars? Does your perspective on different social justice issues align or clash with the types of organizations you’re interested in working for?
Make sure your resume is up to date, well-formatted, and highlights your work and extracurricular experience. Use language that helps employers understand what strengths and relevant experience you would bring to their team.
Search for virtual/in-person networking events with like-minded individuals. Talk to your contacts to see what they like about their jobs and how their companies are growing and goal-setting.
What to Consider When Learning About Potential New Employers
What can you learn about company culture from the potential employer’s website, the media, and any inside connections you might have there?
- Do you want to be part of something at a larger enterprise or start something at a smaller company?
- Do you want to lead or be led?
- What is the work/life balance of the company and in the position you’re eyeballing?
- What opportunities are there for training and mentoring or to collaborate inter-departmentally?
- Are there opportunities to grow internally beyond the role you’re looking to move into?
- Will the salary and benefits such as vacation, time off allowance and insurance coverage be sufficient for your lifestyle, goals and health needs?
- What’s the average employment timeframe for employees at the company and in the position/industry?
The Interview Process
Ask for an informational interview at companies of interest to you.
Practice interviewing with someone who is not afraid to ask you the hard questions.
Do you have an appropriate outfit/style for any forthcoming interviews?
Have you researched your interviewer(s)? If possible, ask for the name of your interview(er) in advance of the inquisition so you can learn more about them through social media or any other industry connections.
Make a list of your strengths and your dislikes. What stands out to you? What appears if you do a Google search of some of the keywords you’ve identified?
Over the years as I’ve periodically taken time to assess what I value. Here’s what has recurred on my list of importance for developing both personally and professionally:
- I like to help others by building relationships and motivating people in positive directions.
- A desire to develop content and strategy to steer the business.
- Work as part of a team but collaborate freely across the business to sharpen one another’s processes inter-departmentally.
- Job swapping/shadowing, drip campaigns and employee/business resource groups.
- Ongoing opportunities for coaching and development to learn and develop new perspectives, processes, products, and programs.
- Solving problems and developing efficient solutions to help peers and clients be more effective.
- Collaborate with co-workers from diverse backgrounds with the freedom to glean from one another’s perspectives.
What’s Most Important to You?
Changing course in your professional life provides the perfect opportunity to discover and recommit to living purposefully. A great next step is taking an interest assessment. Such assessments can give you language such as keywords and job titles for your search. Here’s one I recently gained insight from: https://www.mynextmove.org/
Once you decide what you want to accomplish personally and professionally it’s time to put feelers out and build out your network. Then, you’ll be ready when your dream job opportunity comes along.
A job change is just one more chance to learn how to transition well. For more ideas on walking through change check out: https://thewespot.com/change-and-transition/