Minimize the Collateral Damage
Transitioning jobs is just as stressful as moving or breaking-up a relationship. Without a little pre-planning, you get overwhelmed and can make the wrong decisions. One stress in particular stems from the idea of “sneaking around” behind your employers back. It feels dishonest, plus getting caught could cause career ruin.
Here some tips on planning a successful career transition:
1) Set out and clarify your career goals
Not everyone thinks of this. They know they are not enjoying where they are currently working, so they all have a “I don’t want that” list. More importantly, what do you want in your next career step. Company culture, career advancement, location, work from home, boss, income, etc. Don’t limit yourself on this list. It is not a wish list, it is a plan of action to get you to that next step. Set your priorities. More money should not be at the top of your list. If you enjoy (love) your job, the money will follow.
2) Open a new personal e-mail account just for your job search.
This is one of the first things you need to do as it will be one of the primary channels of communication between you and prospect employers. Chose a professional account name that does not include nick names or “cute” pet names. This is for your career search only. Cover your bases. Personal e-mail accounts are usually safe, but if they are forwarded to you work account or smart phone, they will cycle through your employers e-mail server and could get you caught.
3) Get your resume up to date.
This is something you should be doing on a regular basis. This topic could take a hundred pages as there are so many opinions on resumes. How many pages, how many versions, etc. Take out the latest one and get the opinion of a professional resume writer, a career counsellors or a professional Recruiter in your industry. Always double check your spelling and never lie. FYI, stretching the truth is still a lie in the eyes of a prospective employer.
4) Do your research.
You know what kind of job you are looking for. Now find out what company or companies would fulfill all (or the most important ) of your wants. Where are those companies located? Are they hiring? Who do you know anyone who works there.
5) Reach out to your personal network.
If you know someone who works at a company you are interested in, take them out for coffee and pick their brain on working there. Get referred into an appropriate hiring authority. Many companies have referral bonuses. Your friends will be more than happy to put you in contact.
6) Connect with a Recruiter who knows your industry.
A good recruiter will know about all the companies in your industry. They also know industry standard salary ranges for the career step you are trying to take. All of this information is important to your search. Take the time to meet and understand the recruiter and how they work. Agree to only work with agents who have ethical practices. Agree to certain terms for your search. You do not want to be bombarded with every job opportunity just because it matches with a few key words on your resume. What e-mail and what phone number should be used for communication so you don’t get unwanted calls at work. An important note. If you do decide to work with an agent communicate with them about what companies you have represented yourself too. Also establish that they require your written permission to submit your resume to a prospective employer. This can be done through e-mail. If they do so without your permission you will not agree to any meeting and will terminate the relationship.
7) Get your professional and personal references in line.
Make sure the business and personal contacts are aware that you would like to use them as a reference. This can be tricky and should be done with caution. If you are in a small industry community where everyone knows everyone it will be risky. They must be aware as it could be embarrassing for them to get a call and not know why they are being contacted. This could shine a negative light on your reference.
8) Plan ahead on getting out of the office for potential interviews.
Taking sick days, coming in late or leaving early several times a week will raise suspicion. Plan whole days off, work from home days where you can step out for 1 or 2 hours to “run errands” will be less stressful.
9) Interview attire.
If you are able to leave for an interview from home the you are able to look your professional best and knock their socks off. If you have to leave directly from your current office and you have maintain the business casual attire plan on an outfit that can be upgraded when you leave. For gentlemen it can be as easy as adding a blazer and a tie. Or even changing your shirt in your car and adding the tie and jacket. Maybe even switch from loafers to dress shoes. For the ladies, changing shoes and adding sharp accessories can dress up a casual outfit. The point is to step it up as much as possible to make a point.
Taking the time to plan will ease the stress and make your search an enjoyable one. It may take some time to find that right career move, so make it a pleasant experience so you don’t get into the “I can’t wait till this process is over” mentality.
I would love to hear more suggestions on how to make any job search more enjoyable and safe for everyone.