Job Hunting

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.

I Just Lost My Job. Now What?

iStockphoto.com |  wildpixel

iStockphoto.com | wildpixel

Life just threw you one of its trickiest curve balls. You’ve been told by your boss you are out of a job. Regardless of the reason, you feel overwhelmed by conflicting emotions, economic pressures, and the uncertainty of your future.

Stop. Take a deep breath. You’re not alone, and a little knowledge is a lot of power in your inevitable climb back into the workforce.

It’s natural to feel lost, scared, and discouraged. In this day and age of an increased focus on corporate profitability and shortening career tenures, the experience of losing your job – either through layoff or getting fired – is increasingly common.

Time to refocus. Effectively managing the situation and preparing for your next step can often enhance your success in getting prepared to reenter the job hunt. Many others have successfully navigated such situations, and so will you. Even if this unfamiliar territory, having a good map and the right tools can get you to your destination. To paraphrase an old Irish saying the road will rise up to meet you.

Step 1 – Identify What Happened: The how, when, what, and why you lost your job directly impacts your approach to finding a new position. You’ll likely face more difficult questioning if you lost your job for performance issues than if your position was eliminated as a result of a merger or acquisition. Then think about the professional skills you’ve acquired and how they’ll impact your positioning in the market, the roles you’ll pursue, and the value you’ll add to your next employer.

Step 2 – Assess Your State of Mind: Losing a job can be traumatic, so be honest with yourself – are you ready to go back into the job market? Maybe you live paycheck–to–paycheck, and you do not have the luxury to wait until you are truly ready, but any extra time you are able to devote to yourself will ultimately be helpful in your job search. Perhaps you have severance, or savings, or a whole lot of travel points you can use to give yourself the necessary time to assess, decompress, and rejuvenate. If you need time to get right, and you can make the financials work, it may be worth consideration.

Step 3 – Craft Your Story: Conventional wisdom is that it is easier to find a job while you’re still employed than when you are unemployed. When you are unemployed, you are subject to an extra level of scrutiny, and even those who suddenly find themselves out of work due to no fault of their own can find themselves on defense during the hiring process. You’ll need to open any conversation with a potential employer by explaining what happened that caused the separation from your past employer. Here’s why – if you can set the tone and deal with the tricky parts first, you’ll be able to move onto more important topics. Write down and polish your version of what happened, massage it, and practice it like you’re going on an audition for the biggest starring role in town. The “What happened” question will come up in every interview, so be prepared.

Step 4Build Your Toolbox: You’ve determined you’re ready to get moving on the job hunt. Time to actively evaluate and upgrade the essential job hunting tools. You’ll need to look at your:

Resume: Is it updated with your last position and all the accomplishments, skills, and experiences you’ve acquired there? Is it Applicant Tracking System (ATS) ready, so that it has a chance of making it through to the recruiter? And is it clean, accurate, and free of errors?

 LinkedIn Profile: Recruiters comb LinkedIn to find talent, so you need to be ready. Just like your resume, have you updated your profile to reflect your latest experience? Is it robust and detailed, with a detailed job history? Have you uploaded a recent profile photo? And work on getting some recommendations for your profile from former peers and clients – employers look at these and place value in them.

 Job Boards: Have you uploaded your latest resume to Monster, Indeed, and CareerBuilder?

 References: If you’ve been let go from a job, these are going to be even more important that you may anticipate. Your last boss may or may not be willing to speak favorably about the quality of your work. Find peers, past supervisors, internal customers, or other individuals at your last company who are willing to sing your praises. It’ll help reassure a potential employer that you’re a good risk. It bears saying, make sure you choose co-workers or supervisors you know will provide favorable feedback – I’m just saying, vet your references. I’ve seen people get burned by inadvertently providing poor references.

 Wardrobe: Don’t forget to get modern, appropriate outfits and shoes for interviews. Get your best professional attire dry cleaned and ready for action. And Buy a new pair of shoes that are for interviews only.

Step 5 – Tap Into Your Network: There is no reason to go it alone. You likely have a professional and personal support network, and generally speaking, people are willing to help. Assess your network and determine your best options. Bear in mind, your network is a matrix with multiple degrees of separation. Don’t be afraid to give your resume to friends – networks are large and often unpredictable, and your resume may land on a hiring manager’s desk and you’re a perfect fit. It happens, and a lot more than you may be willing to believe. But people can’t help you if they don’t know you need help!

Step 6 ­– Consider Alternative Employment. Temporary or contract work can do a fantastic job of paying the bills while you’re looking for a full-time role. A temp job may also become permanent, or you might learn of another opening that’s even better through that temp job. Contract positions have the added benefit of expanding your network of people, affiliations, and skill sets.

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.

Three Compelling Reasons To Keep Job Hunting During The Holidays

iStockphoto.com |  RyanJLane

iStockphoto.com | RyanJLane

It’s the holiday season, everyone’s taking their vacations, and companies just aren’t hiring. Time to forget about the job hunt until the new year, right?

Wrong!

It’s true, hiring does slow down between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. It’s also true that things come roaring back on January 2. But here are three compelling reasons to keep plowing ahead with the job hunt during the holidays.

  1. Those jobs are still posted online, right? You can still apply, which means they’re still looking to hire. The companies are still gathering resumes. And sometimes job postings have automatic expiration dates, and if you miss them then you lose your opportunity. Go ahead and apply.

  2. There are fewer people working at your target company, but the corporate recruiter might be one of them. The holiday season is catch-up time for HR. Most of the hiring managers are on vacation, so it’s an opportunity for recruiters to review applicants with less interruption. I can confidently state from my days in HR that the holidays were extremely productive for identifying and screening candidates, and preparing packets of resumes for the hiring managers to comb through when they return to work after New Year’s Day.

  3. There are fewer job applicants, too. Your competition is busy attending Christmas pageants and visiting the relatives in Minnesota, so they’re not applying to jobs at the moment. That means fewer applicants, and if the recruiter’s working, there’s a greater chance that the recruiter will take a look at your submission because the pile of resumes to review is more manageable.

Enjoy the holidays and the New Year!


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.