Starting a job hunt is a large undertaking. But it’s an important one to achieve career growth. A new job allows you to take on new challenges at work, expand your skills, and experience variety. Changing roles is also an important way to increase your salary. On average, switching jobs will net you a salary increase of 10-20%, much higher than an annual salary increase which tends to hover around 2-6% depending on the company you work at.
Though changing jobs comes with a host of rewards, searching for the perfect fit is a multi-month undertaking that most of us don’t take lightly. A job search can be a long and draining process that encompasses researching jobs, toiling over your resume, filling out numerous applications, undergoing the inquisition during interviews, and experiencing a fair bit of rejection. With all that effort, you want to be sure you’re prepared.
To determine if you’re leaving your job for the right reasons and have a plan for your job search, ask yourself these questions.
1. why do I want to leave my current job?
First and foremost, you should analyze why you have the itch to look for a new job. Are you feeling drained working for a micromanaging boss? Is your salary well below the market rate? Are you bored with your role? Are you looking to move up into a management role? Are you feeling stressed by unrealistic expectations? Whatever your reasons, take a moment to determine what’s triggering your desire to find a new job. It’s important to determine if you’re making a well-thought through decision or reacting to a temporary situation that’ll pass.
2. what am I hoping to find in my next job?
Perhaps the most important question on this list, you should absolutely make a list of things you’re looking for in your next job. From your expected salary, to your job title, to perks and benefits, to your responsibilities and duties, decide what’s important to you in your next role. Having a list that outlines all the components that make up your ideal job will help you focus your job search. With thousands of jobs posted weekly, it’s essential that you have a plan to decide what types of jobs you want to apply to.
3. what are my job must-haves?
Be honest, there are some things that are non-negotiable in your next job. If you’re shaking your head, perhaps it’s time to be a little pickier about your next job! It’s completely okay to have a handful of must-haves when job hunting. If you’re working full-time, you’re spending most of your waking hours at work. It’s reasonable to have a few lines in the sand.
Perhaps you want to live and work in a particular city. Maybe you’re leaving a high-stress environment and need better work-life balance. Perhaps you have a bottom-line salary. Whatever your must-haves are, decide on them before you start your job search. It’ll help you focus your efforts on applying to roles that you’re really interested in. Perfecting your job application isn’t easy, so focusing on a few roles that check off all your must-haves is smarter than sending out mass applications and ending up in another job you’re ready to leave after a few months.
4. do I have a realistic transition plan?
How do you plan to execute your job search? Are you planning to stay in your current role while you look for a new job? Or are you planning to quit your job and dedicate yourself full-time to your job search? If you’re not going to be working while you transition, do you have a contingency fund in place? Most experts agree you should have a 3 to 6-month emergency fund stashed to help you pay for your essential expenses. There’s no right or wrong answer, but you should have a plan in place.
5. does my resume tell my story?
Your resume is ground zero of your job search. It’s the one document that can make or break whether hiring managers see you as the right fit. If you’ve settled into your current role, it’s possible that you haven’t updated your resume in a while. Before you embark on a job search, give your resume an overhaul. Don’t just slap your newest job title under the ‘experience’ section either. Update your skills, qualifications, and accomplishments, too. If it’s been a few years, it might even be worth giving your resume a complete refresh and starting from scratch, to ensure it accurately conveys your strengths.
6. what does my online footprint look like?
In our brave new social-media-friendly world, your online interactions can and will be judged when you’re looking for a new job. As many as 60% of hiring managers say they check candidates’ social media feeds before making a hiring decision. LinkedIn is particularly important, as 90% of recruiters admit to using the site as a tool to find and evaluate candidates. However don’t think that means your other feeds like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and YouTube won’t be checked out, too. Clean up any racy, drunken, expletive-laden or otherwise controversial posts or photos that might give hiring managers a reason to reject your application.
7. do I have a network that can help?
According to research conducted by Canada’s federal government, a strong personal network leads to more success finding a job, particularly amongst young people. Though many job application processes have navigated online, online applications can be a black hole of endlessly submitting applications only to receive no response, not even a rejection notice. Do you have connections you can reach out to about employment prospects? You might find more enriching, relevant work through your existing contacts than through anonymous online applications.
Switching jobs is a significant undertaking. Before you jump into a months-long job search, take a moment to consider why you’re ready to leave, what you’re looking for, and create a plan for finding the right fit. Creating a well-thought-through plan is often the difference between jumping into another unsuitable role and finding the next stepping stone in your career.