Published on 1st January 2021
If you are thinking of looking for a new job, it can be helpful to ask yourself some key questions before you start.
Documenting your answers to the five questions below will help you to work out whether you are ready to take the next steps in your career.
These questions will also enable you to write a stronger CV, seek opportunities that are truly appropriate for you and ultimately have a more fruitful job search.
Let's get started!
1. Why do I really want to leave my job?
Think about this question carefully as your answer will impact your next move.
What is it that you are missing in your current role? Can you resolve this at your current firm?
Are you just having a bad week?
Watch the pattern of your happiness at work.
Are you feeling unhappy around certain times in the year? For finance professionals, this might be during the end of the financial year when workloads are exceptionally busy, or it could be following a return from holiday. Feeling down about your job for short periods of time is common.
However, if you are finding that you are getting that feeling of dread every Sunday night, this is a clear sign that it is time to move on.
2. What is it I am actually looking for?
This seems like a really obvious question but so many people start looking for a new job without even knowing what it is they are actually looking for.
For example, you want a change?
What is that change?
What specifically do you want to do?
Change of environment?
What kind of environment?
A change in sector?
What sectors interest you and don't interest you?
It is very important to pinpoint this at the very beginning of your search, so you can quickly identify those roles that match your criteria and filter out the jobs you do not want.
3. Do I have the qualifications or experience for the role that I want?
This is another simple yet crucial question to ask yourself.
It's all very well wanting to do something else, but the jobs market is more competitive than ever, so you need to ensure you have the skills and experience hiring managers are looking for.
Research what experience is needed for the position you want so you can make a plan of how to get there.
A good place to start is looking at job descriptions on job boards for the roles you want to do. Do you have all the skills and experience required for these roles? If not, how could you gain these skills?
For example, if you are looking to go into management without any recent management experience, start thinking about what experience you need and if there are anyduties you can start picking up in your current position. Could you offer to mentor a more junior colleague, for example? Or take the lead on a team project?
Try not to be put off by job titles.
Job titles and duties can vary greatly between sectors and between different sized firms. Try not to get too hung up about the job title itself, it's the duties and responsibilities in that role that will ultimately determine whether you are happy and successful in that job.
4. What is most important to me?
Start differentiating the “ideals” from the “essentials”. People usually get wrapped up in the idea of the 'perfect' job and this can sometimes cloud their judgement of what is actually important,
There will always be pros and cons in every position, but do the pros outway the cons? This should be your deciding factor.
Write a list of what is essential to you, whether that be a minimum baseline salary, the length of your commute, career progression, or something else. Put these in order of importance.
Then write a list of what you'd ideally like to have from your next role. Again, list these in order of importance.
Then, look at both your lists and decide areas where you could compromise. For example, career progression might be at the top of your list, but sometimes in order to progress, you might have to sacrifice a close location.
5. What’s my plan of action?
1. Finding a good recruitment agency that specialises in your industry is a good place to start as this gives you the opportunity to sit down and be completely honest with someone about what you want. A good recruiter will then filter through roles helping you to find exactly what you are looking for.
2. Update your LinkedIn profile.
3. Reach out to your network.
If you have connections in the industry that you are looking for a new role in, use them! Most firms really value internal recommendations.
4. Put your CV on relevant job boards and apply for roles that interest you.
Do be careful though, asjob descriptions can be genericand it is difficult to see if the firm, role, and culture match up to what you are looking for.
For that reason, it is often beneficial to begin your search with a recruitment agency or recommendation from your network as recruiters and your own connections can help to bring the role to life and give you a good understanding of the firm and what to expect.
Bonus question: What's the market like?
Let's face it, times are tough at the moment. Some industries have been crippled by the pandemic.
Thankfully, professional services is a robust sector, so if you're looking at a job in business services within legal, practice or consultancy, then reassuringly, hiring is starting to pick up again (at the time of writing).
With that being said, as a recruiter I would never advise that you take the leap and quit your job without having another role to go to (unless you can take the hit financially).
It can take time to find the right role, so in most cases, it's advisable to start looking whilst you already have the security of employment.
It's worth noting that in some ways, the pandemic actually makes job hunting easier. With remote working and video interviews becoming increasingly common, you no longer need to take time off to travel to an interview. So in that regard, there's probably never been a better time to start looking for a new job.