Is there ever a good time to change jobs?
Well, it really depends if you are changing because of a change you are seeking or if this is a decision being forced upon you by your employer. I’m not going to explore various departure scenarios and will keep this rather simple with two high-level exit strategies; forced out or on your terms.
Are you being forced out of your current employment?
You obviously have to assess the terms of your departure in that scenario, as such departures are often due to your role being downsized or performance-based challenges.
The latter will certainly provide you with a huge level of obstacles when looking for reemployment and will force you to seriously rethink how to rebrand yourself and explain the departure during a potential interview. You should always want to avoid being in that situation, as the time to get a new job will be prolonged and you might have to shift career.
This post will not explore options or avenues for terminated departures, but I’ll be happy to discuss this offline in a more private forum, so please contact me.
The more positive exit strategy is where you decide to leave. You decide your future and control your next steps. You are in control!
Again, there’s probably no ideal time to depart, unless you become aware of some organizational changes that might be coming and you want to get out before sh*t hits the fan. If you do identify such changes or sense something is coming, then you need to start planning.
Planning an exit does not mean you will actually leave, as some events might not materialize and you do not need to execute your departure.
You should always be aware of what is happening in the employment market, explore potential options and get your profile updated.
An old colleague recently contacted me, as he was sensing some less favorable changes within his organization and was not sure how to interpret these obstacles. This, of course, made him anxious about his future and he asked if he should leave.
I cannot and would not recommend others to leave their current job. That is a decision that the person has to make by evaluating his or her options. I will offer some feedback, and happy to share it with you too.
Sudden organization changes might offer you new opportunities, so do not be afraid to push forward and make yourself more visible. Take some chances and show leadership your strengths + desires to be part of the change.
It might backfire if they are contemplating larger organization changes, but I still believe that your efforts will not go unnoticed and you should be in a stronger position when they assess people they want to keep.
The alternative approach, if this increases anxiety and uncertainties, and you feel uncomfortable, then you should strongly consider pursuing other options, either in another part of the organization or outside the organization.
It does not matter which option you chose, I would still strongly recommend that you do a number of things … again, keeping your options open.
You might scuff and smirk at these options, but now it’s time to (re)brand and sell your profile, and you should use the tools at your disposal.
No one will fight your fight for you. Don’t expect people to help you.
You might have made excellent connections with your current company or external professional network, but few of these will come to your aid when and if you decide to seek new opportunities.
You are your best and only evangelist and salesperson. This is not an indecent proposal, but your time to sell yourself to future employers.
So, check out these simple and your powerful tools
Your wish list
Remember those corny interviews where someone would ask you “where do you see yourself in 5 years”?
Well, you should write down a list of stuff that you want to do and is interested, so you can use that to pursue those dreams.
Changing a job is when you have the opportunity to find a more suitable role or something you are passionate about.
You need (and must) know what you want, otherwise, you will just move to another similar role where you might not be happy.
Once you have completed your wish list, then you should research the market for products, services, and companies that might fit your ambitions.
Find suitable future employers and follow them. This will help you have conversations with contacts you might make at networking sessions, and also if you do end up going for an interview.
You will also be able to browse their career site to find options or even reach out to people on LinkedIn.
While you might not use this tool often, having an updated LinkedIn profile will help potential employers find you, and look at your past. Consider this your online resume, and it is important that you keep this accurate and aligned to your actual resume.
You can also enable the job search, and based on your skills set in your profile, it will find suitable jobs for you, and you just need to apply.
You should also follow companies and topics that you are interested in, and you could engage with some conversations as well. This shows your interest and knowledge.
This is one of the more important sales tools, so make sure it looks and reads well. You have to keep it current and please do not exaggerate or tell small white lies. Don’t even put skills on it that you cannot back up, just because you might have done something that might sound like a cool skill.
I would also recommend that you keep the resume to 2, max 3, pages. Anything longer will simply just get ignored, or worse, dropped.
Personally, when reviewing resumes for open vacancies in my team, I like resumes that show the employment history for the past decade, with a few lines about your role, responsibilities, and achievements for each position held.
So, search the internet for some great resume layouts, and start creating a cool profile.
I’ve never been good at this, although I’ve established great contacts with vendors and technology partners over the years.
That said, you should participate in free networking events where you live and don’t be afraid to interact with other people at such events. Express your interest in solutions, debate topics and basically get some contacts.
Your Social Presence
Whether we like it or not, our social online identity may influence your new adventures.
I welcome using all kinds of social platforms, posting comments and blogs. Just consider that organizations might investigate you and might find your social identity.
My warning to you is – be mindful of what you post on your social online identity as the activities (comments, posts, etc.) may raise some flags. It is tempting to get into political debates, be too passionate about topics and perhaps expose a side of your personality that a potential employer might not appreciate.
Your online activities are an extension to your profile, so consider that before you hit post or reply.
Apply & Interview
No matter if you are leaving or staying (still on the fence) you should apply for jobs.
Applying for jobs does not mean that you have to accept a potential position unless you really want it of course, but it also gives you the exposure and experience in interviewing again.
Applying and attending interviews will provide you with excellent feedback on your interview skills and your resume. You get more comfortable and relaxed and learn what you should focus on or not.
When I entered the race last year, I had not interviewed for a new job since 1999. To say I was rusty and bad at interviewing was an understatement.
Contrary to what you might think – you will not get the first job you apply for. We all think we are the best, and should certainly do so, but there are many people applying for jobs.
Attending a screening interview with HR is not equivalent to getting moving to the next round. There will be multiple rounds of interviews, and you should prepare for each round and take each round very seriously.
Many times you are awarded a job because you fit the company’s culture and mission and because they like you as a person. And of course, because you have the skills and experiences they need.
Please, if you think the job, organization or environment suits your wish list, then you should politely pull out of the interviews. It’s not negative, and the organization will most likely appreciate that you are honest.
I wanted to share my experiences and advice, and I hope you found it useful.
More than happy to be an online mentor or just have questions.