New year, new job: Expert career advice for 2013
January blues are sweeping offices nationally causing many professionals to reconsider their current job. We quizzed three recruitment experts to provide advice for New Year job seekers keen to use their re-born enthusiasm to further their careers.
Ewan Partners’ managing director Jonathan Krogdahl, Personal Career Management director Corinne Mills, and Totaljobs.com director John Salt answer our questions on the best way to go about a New Year job search, and whether in the current economic climate it is advisable to stay where you are.
As workers return to their jobs from the festive break, many will be itching to leave. What things should they consider before sending their CVs out randomly and abundantly?
John Salt: A key issue to consider is whether you will feel more motivated and rewarded by seeking a new challenge in your current role or company than risking a move in uncertain economic times. Simply speaking to your boss to see what you can be involved in over the coming months can give you fresh impetus. Remember competition for jobs has never been more fierce so if you are going to move companies be certain the role you want is available and you can clearly show why you should get it.
Jonathan Krogdahl: Preparation, preparation, preparation – when it came to painting (walls not artwork!) my father used to say to me that one should spend twice as long in preparation than in painting!
Applying this to the hunt for a new job:
- Be clear about what job you want and why;
- Make sure that you have your resume clean, neat, accurate and up-to-date;
- Have your ‘why story’ well-rehearsed so that when you do get an interview you don’t mess it up;
- Have a razor-sharp focus on what you want and why (clarity with confidence is attractive);
- Focus on the head-hunters that are specialists in your target market – don’t waste time with those that don’t have the right client contacts.
How can workers set proper career goals and plans for the year ahead so they don't just jump at the first thing that comes along?
Corinne Mills: January is a perfect time to create a career action plan for the year ahead. It will keep you focused on your career priorities and provide a realistic schedule rather than relying on sporadic bursts of energy as and when you remember.
Firstly, think about your career goals. What aspects of your career would you like to achieve, change or develop?
Next, write a list of all of the practical things that you need to do in order to achieve those goals eg asking for a pay rise, going on a course, talking to a career coach etc. Give yourself a realistic target date for the completion of each task.
Tick off each task as they are completed so you can see your progress for yourself.
Jonathan Kroghahl: Seek advice from an expert. If you are in the earlier or middle part of your career, talk to a mentor (someone you have already formally agreed this with or indeed, an old boss / trusted friend, advisor or parent!). If you are in the latter part of your career (i.e. maybe more senior in an organisation), then explore the prospect of paying an expert coach.
Should workers even look to jump ship in the current labour market? There is relatively little jobs churn so not many opportunities to go to and they could fall victim of "last in, first out", should the new company have to make redundancies. Is it better to sit it out and wait or should they follow their heart if they're unhappy in their current role??
Jonathan Kroghahl: The “last in, first out” issue is a very real one, but I prefer another saying: “fortune favours the brave”. If you are unhappy where you are, it is likely you are demotivated and that often results in not doing a very good job.
Corinne Mills: In a difficult jobs market, the impulse to play it safe may be an understandable one. However, new recruits are no more vulnerable to the threat of redundancy than long serving employees. In fact the reverse may be true, especially in an organisational restructure. If you are unhappy or insecure in your job, then it makes sense to start actively looking to see if there are other better opportunities out there for you. It needs serious job-hunting rather than mere window-shopping to pull in job offers but you always have the choice to accept or reject any offer depending on its merits. Make the move only when it’s right for you.
John Salt: Work is such an important part of most of our lives, and if your job truly makes you unhappy then you should look to change that - you owe yourself that much. However, be honest. Is it your current role that you are unhappy with or work in general? If it's the latter, how will changing jobs solve that? If it's the former, can you change your current role to make it more enjoyable without leaving your present employment, or do you need fresh surroundings and challenges to help you start to love your job again?
How do workers know if they're really unhappy in their current role, or if they're just experiencing January blues?
Corinne Mills: Many organisations are reporting low morale among their workforce at the moment and this is understandable given the impact of the economy. In this respect there are few organisations that are totally immune from these pressures and so it may be unrealistic to think that the grass is greener elsewhere.
If your unhappiness at work is related to a specific issue or relationship, then it is always worth taking steps to see if you can resolve this. You may find that a frank conversation helps cut down to size what seems to be a disproportionately big issue. However, if you have felt for a while that your future lies elsewhere then it is probably time to move on.
John Salt: A couple of sure fire signs that you really have fallen out of love with your job are if you zoned out during meetings, become irrationally irritated with your colleagues or just can’t focus on the tasks in hand. More seriously, if you’re lying awake worrying about work or are relying on escapist spending or drinking to see you through, you could be doing yourself harm.