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:


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.

After more than 20 years providing advice and support to accountancy professionals, I am all too aware of the negative reputation the recruitment industry often endures.

Of course, there are some very bad recruiters out there – including those who blindly fire out CV’s in the hope that something will resonate with someone somewhere – but the truth is that the majority of recruiters work extremely hard, act incredibly professionally, and are genuinely trying to help people make a positive change.

For the entire sector to be tarred with the same brush makes absolutely no sense. It’s just not the way business works, especially in a service-based environment which relies upon the skills and performance of people.

If you’re working with a recruitment consultant, or have been thinking about approaching one to help you find a new role, here is a list of the qualities you should expect to find as a bare minimum:

Honesty and Transparency
A healthy working relationship must be fair, ethical and transparent. In recruitment, this not only applies to the current state of the market and whether your expectations can be met, but also to who it is that will be directly representing you and working on your behalf.

Sector Expertise
A specialist recruiter will be capable of talking comfortably with you about your current role regardless of seniority, offering advice on your next move and job prospects. As a leading authority in the market, they’ll be highly networked, knowledgeable about the latest trends and job movements and, because they work regularly with the best companies, will be able to give you an immediate advantage through their connections.

Impartial and Unbiased
Recognising the importance of diversity in successful teams, a good recruiter will work with you to make sure you find a company that not only matches your aspirations but has a culture that aligns with your values.

This means for confidentiality, privacy, and also for you and your timescales. A consummate professional, rather than focusing on what works best for them, your recruiter will work with you to find the best opportunity possible.

Excellent Communication
Looking for a new job is time-consuming and can be stressful. It is a big decision which requires serious thought and consideration, especially in a market where talent is in high demand. Regular and clear contact throughout the recruitment process is critical. As well as keeping you up to date, you should also feel that your recruitment consultant is listening carefully to you so that they understand your needs and can react quickly and appropriately when required.

Helpful and Supportive
Flexible in their approach and happy to offer educated opinion or thoughts on salary advice, your consultant will support you all through the recruitment journey – and beyond. By investing time in building a strong relationship before they begin their search, they will not only understand your needs in-depth but also be able to find you the perfect opportunities.

I often ask myself what it is that people expect when they ask for help from a recruitment consultant and, as well as being excellent at what they do, at the top of the list is honesty, integrity, and a positive, helpful manner.

In my experience, when you are working with a recruiter, they will be motivated by one of two things: hitting targets or helping people. While no one works for free, a good advisor is someone who wants to find the best outcome for you.

Placing the right people in the right place is their motivation, and there are a lot of us around so please don’t be afraid to be selective, and don’t ever settle for less.

The grass isn’t always greener, so make sure you consider the pros and cons before deciding to change jobs.