careers

Seven Signs it Might be Time to Look For a New Job

iStockphoto.com |  kaipong

iStockphoto.com | kaipong

Jobs are not meant to last forever. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker will have more than eleven jobs before age fifty, and that number is expected to grow. While some transitions are out of your control, eventually you could find yourself in the wrong job, at the wrong time.

Here are seven signs that it might be time to explore the job market for better prospects.

You and your manager are not aligned on your job requirements and career path. Everyone has a boss – even the CEO of a public company has to answer to a Board of Directors. Do not assume you and your supervisors share a common vision. Some potential red flags:

  • No clear engagement from management in career discussions.

  • Differing ideas about your role, career path, and long-term potential in the company.

  • Lack of periodic performance evaluations or feedback, or your positive achievements are not being officially acknowledged.

  • New management that has a “different way of doing things” and their “own” people. No matter how stellar your job performance, these kinds of shake-ups can fundamentally change the nature of your role. Be aware, these kinds of shakeups may also lead to new internal career opportunities.

You received a poor appraisal. It’s essential to ask yourself, “Why did this happen?” While a poor appraisal is a signal that management is unhappy with your job performance, it does not necessarily mean it is time to leave your job. Ask yourself:

  • What is the message management is trying to convey? Listen closely – if the overriding tone is that they really want to see you succeed, your leadership may be willing work with you to give you the tools to turn things around. If not, you’re in dangerous territory.

  • If your review stipulates areas in which you need to show improvement, are you capable of meeting these new expectations? If they are beyond your capabilities, it might be time to seek a better fit.

  • What strategies can you undertake to turn things around? Systemic issues can be impossible to change, whereas if you are presented with opportunities that are genuinely within your control, your long-term outlook at the company might be more promising.

  • Have you had a candid conversation with your manager about your appraisal? Painful as these discussions are, they’re essential. You may no longer be a good fit for your current role based upon shifting expectations or other factors. Best to know, so you can plan accordingly.

There’s limited opportunity for professional development. Personal growth should be part of your compensation package, providing you with challenging work that helps you hone valuable new skills that you will carry with you throughout your career. If you are bored and unchallenged, or the work is not as rewarding as you’d like, consider asking your manager to evolve your responsibilities in order to get those mental juices going. A dull role with no opportunity to expand your toolbox could signal a dead end.

You’re feeling undercompensated for your work. It’s human nature to underestimate or overestimate one’s value to a company, and even in a job that you may have outgrown it is easy to become too comfortable at the expense of progress. But before you assume you’re underpaid, do your homework. Salary survey sites with validated data, like Paysa, can tell you whether or not you are being fairly compensated for the work you do. Be prepared for what you learn – you may find out you’re earning an above-average salary for the market. Also, remember that your salary is only one piece of the overall compensation picture, and often benefits like 401(k) matches, bonuses, and generous paid time off can make up for a lower base salary. That said, if your total compensation appears to be substantially lower than the overall market, consider seeing what else is out there.

Your personal values no longer align with the corporate values and culture. This seems like an abstract concept until your company asks you to engage in uncomfortable or unethical behavior, and your job is on the line. Or maybe the company shifted from a family-centric culture to a 24/7, get-it-done-at-all-costs environment. Your reputation and sanity are two of your most valuable assets; protect them.

You’re engaged in self-sabotage. Maybe you’re unhappy at your job and you want to leave, but you can’t bring yourself to take action. Instead, you let your job performance slip – either consciously or unconsciously – secretly hoping you’ll be let go and you’ll be off the hook. No matter how justifiably unhappy you may be, it’s not a good idea to allow your job performance to slip for any reason. Stay motivated, stay engaged, and consider looking for a new environment where you’ll be happy to show up to work.

Sometimes you just need to move on. Even the best experiences have a natural life cycle. A certain level of self-awareness is essential. Only you know if your job still aligns with your best-case career scenario.

Philip Roufail contributed to this article.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

15 Ways Employers Check You Out Before Saying, "You're Hired!"

iStockphoto.com |  busracavus

iStockphoto.com | busracavus

You want the job. You're qualified for the job. Why can't the company just give you the job?

Did you really think it was going to be easy? Employers want to know who they're hiring, and they're going to be intrusive in checking you out before extending an offer. And companies have many ways to vet job candidates before bringing you on board.

  1. The Resume - Your resume is a spelling test. It's a grammar test. It's a Microsoft Word publishing test. It's an honesty test. Reviewers make several judgments about you just based upon that simple 1 or 2 page resume.

  2. Interviews - These grueling meetings often include the hiring manager, peers, human resources, internal customers, or anyone with a stake in the hiring decision.

  3. Criminal Background Checks - Employers want to know you can be trusted with the keys to the company car, or if you're going to take it straight to the chop shop the first time you drive off.

  4. Employment Verification - Did you really work at the company, in the role you indicated, for the pay you detailed?

  5. Credit Checks - Another measure of trustworthiness. How do you handle your finances? If you've declared bankruptcy or have overdue bills, what does that say about your ability to manage company resources – in other words will your expense report be padded to cover your personal expenses?

  6. Physicals - It's rare, but not unheard of to be sent to the doctor for an evaluation if either your job involves a great deal of physical activity, or if you're considered critical to the organization.

  7. Skills Testing - The job requires you to be good at Microsoft PowerPoint - would you be willing to take a timed exam to see just how skilled you really are?

  8. Psychological / Personality Testing - These come in many flavors, but the purpose is the same - to see how well you’ll fit within the culture of the organization, and your predicted behaviors and predilections.

  9. Polygraph - The lie detector. Legal in several states, another test of your trustworthiness. Don't be surprised to take one of these when applying for positions in security or law enforcement.

  10. References - The company speaks with former supervisors or coworkers to find out more about your work habits.

  11. Informal References - This is when somebody at the company says, "Hey, I know somebody who used to work with that guy at my old employer! Let me get the skinny!" Then they do this without the applicant's knowledge or consent. It’s a gray area, but it happens more often than you’d think.

  12. Deep Background / Character Investigations - Applying to a position requiring access to top secret data? You might get an investigator poking around, asking your neighbors about your most personal details.

  13. Asking Around After The Interview - The hiring manager may ask the folks in the office who interacted with you how you behaved. Better have treated that receptionist with dignity and respect...

  14. Your Social Media - Who says they won't find those pictures on Facebook from your drunken escapade in Tijuana? And do you know what comes up in Google when somebody enters your name? How's that picture on your LinkedIn profile?

  15. Drug & Substance Testing - About that trip to Tijuana...


There's a lot of information about you out there, and companies won't be shy about gathering as much as they can before deciding whether to offer you a job. Be prepared.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

8 Ways To Maximize The ROI On Your Internship

iStockphoto.com |  monkeybusinessimages

iStockphoto.com | monkeybusinessimages

 

Congratulations – you got the internship!

After a painful and highly competitive application and interview process, you were selected over dozens of other highly qualified students to spend the summer working at one of the coolest companies around.

As an intern, you'll gain valuable, real-world experience with an established company, new skills, a professional network, experience to add to your resume, and depending upon your college and the employer some combination of academic credit and a paycheck.

During the internship your employer will closely monitor and evaluate you, and the quality of your work is only one factor they'll consider as they decide whether to invite you back for a full-time role upon graduation. They'll also look at your work ethic, technical aptitude, interpersonal skills, behavior, learning agility, and growth potential to determine if you're a fit for their full-time workforce.

Regardless of whether your career interests lie with the company at which you're interning or at another company, you'll need to be smart in approaching your internship. The ultimate goal is to embark upon a rewarding career upon graduation. Here 8 ways you maximize the ROI – return on investment – on your internship.

  1. Set your own goals. Even before accepting an internship, you should very clearly understand what you plan to get out of your summer. What specific technical skills or professional experiences do you hope to gain? An internship that doesn't add to your professional toolbox may not get you any closer to your desired career path.
     
  2. Align expectations with your manager. Have a two-way discussion to agree upon what he/she expects out of you. Set goals. Work together to define what success in the internship would look like so that you can prioritize accordingly. If you see gaps in the experiences they plan to offer you versus what you were told during the interview, or if you would like to work on specific projects or technologies, respectfully make your manager aware of this and ask if it's possible to redefine the scope of the internship (it may or may not be).
     
  3. Be flexible. There's a lot of boring work out there which needs to get done, and interns usually get stuck doing it. Managers usually know how lame it is. Smile, and take it on willingly. Ask for more. You may learn valuable skills, and demonstrating a positive attitude toward tedious tasks reflects well upon your work ethic. Perhaps you'll identify a process to streamline this grunt work and can share your findings so that you'll make your manager's life easier after you leave.
     
  4. Ask for stretch assignments. Managers often give employees what they think they can handle. If you believe you have the capability to take on more complex tasks – and the bandwidth to do so without allowing your core duties to suffer – tell your manager. You might end up with elevated responsibility or a challenging assignment. There's a risk of failure here, but if you succeed in your new assignment you have the potential to truly shine.
     
  5. Track your progress. Document your progress against your goals in a quantifiable and measurable way. If you find you're falling behind, it may be time to look at how you're approaching your work and perhaps discuss the situation with your manager. Save your data for the performance appraisal at the end of the internship..
     
  6. Network aggressively. One of the most counterproductive things you can do is bury yourself in your cubicle without getting to know people in the organization. Introduce yourself to department employees and other interns. Build your brand by actively participating in corporate activities. After the internship is over, the company will usually rank all of the interns in order to prioritize to whom they'd like to make full-time, post-graduation employment offers. If nobody knows you, they can't advocate for you, regardless of the quality of your work. Also, take a long-term perspective to networking – few people stay with a single employer for the duration of their career, and the connections you make now may be useful in finding employment after graduation and beyond.
     
  7. Invest in your performance appraisal. At the end of the internship you'll sit down with your manager to go over your work – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Share your accomplishments, highlight your teamwork, and provide documentation. Ask for performance feedback – in addition to what they perceive as your successes, your manager will share information he or she believes  will help you address developmental areas. Demonstrate maturity – listen actively, don't be defensive, and ask for suggestions. The information they share will usually be the aggregate of multiple individuals across the department who provided input and it will reflect the general perception of your performance. Thank your manager for the feedback, synthesize what's been shared with you, and use the data to improve your performance in the future.
     
  8. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile with your new experiences. An internship is real experience, and your work will help sell you. Highlight your accomplishments!

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.