It never ceases to amaze me how small the North East business community can appear. For the most part, I believe this is one of our major strengths, but when it comes to searching for a new job, the closeness of the professional community places added emphasis on how you behave at every stage of the process.
From the initial allure of a new opportunity to attending a job interview and how you exit a business, the commitment and integrity you show to current and future employers has the potential to propel your career forward or leave a mark on your professional standing for some time to come.
So, what is the best thing to do if you start to get itchy feet? Well, the natural temptation is to quickly pull together a CV, fire up an online job board and begin submitting applications to see if you can secure an interview. If that sounds like you, before you go any further, I suggest you pause for a breath and take the time to work out exactly what it is that you are not happy about.
Ask yourself what the reasons are you want to leave your current role. Would you like to solve the issues and stay? Are you convinced it’s time for a change and genuinely ready to start a new chapter in your career?
If you think some factors can be adjusted and will make a positive difference, I encourage you to be brave and speak openly with your line manager. Whatever the motivation for change – money, progression, culture, work-life balance – it is better to understand the scope for this to happen before committing to speculatively attend an interview or use a job offer as leverage when you kick-start the conversation. No employer – current or future – will ever thank you for that.
And with plenty of exciting opportunities around, good people do not stay on the market for long so, while the conversation might seem daunting, whatever the outcome, you will have been honest and transparent from the outset. Whether you ultimately stay or go, you will have conducted yourself professionally and maturely and gained respect in the process.
In contrast, opting for what seems to be the less confrontational route of finding a new role, resigning and hoping to hear how important you are and that your employer can grant you that elusive pay rise and the flexibility for remote working is the type of negotiation that only serves to erode trust.
In my time as a recruiter, I’ve seen many people surrender to a flattering counter-offer. Again, it’s the easier choice but invariably in those cases, the true problems don’t go away. Once your employer is over the short-term worry of losing you, often, the way they view you will change; particularly when it comes to future promotions and salary reviews.
This is why it pays to be authentic and true to whatever course of action you choose. There is profound wisdom in embracing a commitment to your employer until you have explored all the options and are genuinely sure it is the right thing to move on.
When embarking on the recruitment process without a commitment to it, you have to consider your long-term career and reputation which is on the line anytime a prospective employer invests in you by meeting or offering you the chance to join their team.
And while people understand when an offer is turned down in favour of an alternative move, how you behave will affect the opportunities available next time you come to the market. Staying with your existing employer can leave a bitter taste in people’s mouths. Nobody appreciates feeling like they have had their time wasted and your reputation and integrity are hugely important in a place as connected as the North East.
When employees decide to look for a new challenge, more often than not, it’s triggered by the feeling of being let down.
Whether it’s a lack of support and development, because they’ve slipped into a rut, or believe they are undervalued, making a conscious choice to kick-start a job search can feel like a big step, but keeping your options open is not something you should be afraid of.
If you’re unhappy and unsure where to begin, here is some advice to make sure you approach the process in the best possible way:
SET CLEAR GOALS
You need to define your non-negotiables at the outset. Think about what you want from a new job. Listing what you feel is wrong in your current role is often a good way to begin but, whatever you do, you need to set your goals and write down what you want to achieve. It’s the only way you can truly weigh up the offers you receive further down the line.
UPDATE YOUR CV
Your CV is the first thing potential employers will ask for, so it pays to have it up-to-date. I would also include your LinkedIn profile in that, as often employers will cross-reference the two, as well as review any recommendations you might have to draw a measure of your character. With your CV, the key is to give yourself the flexibility to tailor it to a specific role or application. Taking the time to do this will give you a huge advantage in the initial short-listing stage.
MAKE TIME TO NETWORK
Whilst I don’t necessarily agree, the adage “it’s not what you know, but who” cannot be ignored. That means if you’re serious about finding a new role, it’s time to get out there and network and get a feel for the market. Start by speaking to people you trust, as you never know who is on the cusp of recruiting or knows when a new opportunity is on the horizon.
FIND THE RIGHT RECRUITMENT CONSULTANT
If you work in a specialist role, you need a specialist recruiter to represent you. An expert in your field will understand the nuances between roles in your industry. They know the market inside and out and the skills you need. Most importantly, they will be trusted by the people hiring. People that you would otherwise not be able to reach out to.
Even if you are represented by a recruitment consultant, you can remain proactive by signing up to receive targeted alerts and updates from job boards and websites such as Reed, CV Library, and Indeed (others are available).
PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE
Practice makes perfect so, if you suffer from interview nerves, try rehearsing with family and friends to build confidence. When it comes to interviews, the biggest mistake people tend to make is to arrive unprepared so do your research. As a recruiter, there is nothing worse than receiving feedback that someone interviewed fabulously but didn’t take the time to find out about the company. It immediately switches prospective employers off, no matter how talented you are.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Try to remain open to possibilities when searching for a new role. This doesn’t mean a huge pivot away from what you are doing but, just because you find out about a role or have an interview, it doesn’t mean that you have to take the job. Recruitment is a two-way process, and it’s the employer’s responsibility to convince you to join them too. And if it doesn’t turn out well, you can always chalk it off as more interview practice!
If you are unhappy in your current role, while it may take time to find the dream job, an interview is within reach. You just need to know how to find it.
Some helpful thoughts and advice on the mistakes to avoid when attending a job interview.