Switching jobs is usually a very stressful process and we find that a large percentage of people haven’t thought things through to the extent that they should. There are some obvious factors that go into making a career move (title, pay, location, etc.), but here are some questions to think about before picking up your phone to call a recruiter back.
Why are you looking for a new job?
Sometimes it’s obvious (pay, location, lack of upward mobility), but when it isn’t you need to invest time into really thinking through what is pushing you towards a new career. Not only is this going to be the first question that future employers are going to ask, but a lot of times after doing some soul searching people will realize that they are more satisfied in their current role than they initially thought. It is far better to figure this out on the front end rather than waiting for the offer letter to withdraw your name from consideration.
What is your next step and is it a realistic career expectation?
Nobody wants to switch jobs for a lateral or even a slightly improved position, but you need to really think about what makes sense from the employer’s standpoint as well. Instead of applying to that management position with three years of experience, consider taking a senior staff-level role that will provide you the opportunity to grow into the next step after proving yourself. Obviously the responsibilities will have a huge impact on the appeal of the position as well, so make sure you have a clear expectation of what you want to be doing (and sometimes more importantly what you do not want to be doing) before kicking off the interview process.
What type of company do you want to work for?
We have the privilege of working with a wide variety of companies at Aegis from Fortune 100 all the way down to 10-12 person consulting firms. Size is the obvious factor that stands out for most people, but make sure you understand trade-offs that can occur across both large and small companies (some of the appeal of small companies can quickly wear off if you find out there are cash flow issues…). Each company presents a unique set of obstacles that you have to navigate as a prospective candidate, so it helps to know the type of environment you are looking for before the interviews begin.
How urgent is your search?
People like to window shop and kick the tires – until it is time to make a decision. Everyone that I call off of LinkedIn is interested in hearing about the position (mainly pay) that I am calling about, but the majority of them aren’t actually serious about switching jobs. When you do start to apply for jobs try to keep in mind that companies are usually looking to get people onboard as quickly as possible. Make sure that your immediate timetable can accommodate a reasonably fast switch – some of the faster companies we work with will go from resume submittal to hire date in less than a month. Obviously most employers will provide the standard two week notice period; just make sure you are ready to turn your resignation in before you take the interview.
How long do you want/need to stay at your next company?
When we are teaching new recruiters how to judge good resumes versus bad ones the very first thing we teach is to look at the number of jobs the candidate has had in the last 5-10 years. I can’t put an exact number on it because a lot of it is situational, but everyone knows someone who has had too many jobs in the past few years. While it isn’t always a complete deal breaker for employers, most companies don’t want to put the resources into onboarding you if they aren’t sure you will be there through the end of the year. If you are concerned with some instability in your past I would recommend really thinking out your next 5+ years to make sure your next company can accommodate your future growth plan.
Asking yourself these questions BEFORE, will spare both you and your recruiter the time and headache that comes with an interview process. Not only should you ask yourself these questions, but you should discuss the answers and any concerns with your recruiter. We want to help you through your career move, and that becomes difficult when we don’t have all of the information on the front end. Hopefully by having these questions and answers sooner as opposed to later will alleviate some of the stresses that can come with making a career move.