Consider all options before jumping ship

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 September, 2009, 12:00am

With the economy showing signs of recovery, it may be time to start considering a career move and get prepared for exciting opportunities, whether within or outside your company. However, while there is no quick and fast rule for the length of time one should stay in a job, people should take into account the opportunities, prospects and satisfaction they get from their jobs before sending out those applications.

The economic turndown has put many employees under increased stress, working around thinly stretched resources and taking on additional responsibilities with reduced staff benefits. But the decision to jump ship should not be solely based on monetary considerations.

Job satisfaction can be a huge motivator to decide to go or stay. Although compensation is important, it is sometimes further down the list as people rarely consider it to be the sole motivator for a move.

Better exposure and learning opportunities are by far the best reasons to change jobs. However, if you feel that you are being underused or have outgrown your job description, then it may be time to look elsewhere for opportunities.

Review and assess your situation

For many people, making a decision to stay or go is not always easy, but it makes perfect sense to formulate a set of reasons for staying or moving on. Assess and review your situation, weigh up the pros and cons attached to your role and personal situation, such as financial, family or educational options. Do a thorough analysis of the possibilities of advancement in your company against the short-term and mid-term career goals of what you want to achieve at your next level of career development. This will help you ascertain whether the time has come to move on or whether you need to remain in your present role to gain more experience and hone your skills and knowledge.

Identify your strengths and career goals

It is important to assess career directions after a certain period in your job. Review the tasks and projects you have accomplished in your stint, the skills and knowledge you have developed in your profession or industry and the different roles you have taken on at your company. This will help you understand how much you have grown professionally over the years. Take some time to identify your skills, motivators and strengths, and then align them with career aspirations. Look ahead and try to understand where you would like to see yourself in the next three to five years and set objectives.

Activate your networks

Use your networks, established in the workplace, and social and professional circles, to identify any openings that exist. Networking for a job opportunity has become increasingly common and useful, particularly when the economy is down and vacancies are scarce in the job market. Personal and previous work contacts can be very helpful. Networking with a few contacts who know your character, ability and skills well can be an effective job search, rather than pinning hopes on sending out your r?sum? to strangers. Talk to friends, acquaintances, former bosses and people who work in similar fields. Join professional bodies and organisations in your field as a member and attend their events to sell your knowledge and skills to influential people, and try to impress them. The rationale behind doing this is to cast a wider net and fend off unnecessary competition. Freelance or voluntary work is a great way to activate your networks.

Do your homework and get prepared

Review job advertisements through different channels, including print recruitment publications and online resources. It is important you are fully aware of market trends in terms of remuneration, general and specific skills, and knowledge required in your profession or the industry where you would like to seek employment. Update your r?sum? with the latest qualifications and skills you have acquired, tailor it to the job requirements and present essential information, such as your career history, qualifications and work-related accomplishments, in an easy-to-follow format to attract the hiring manager's attention. Make sure both the cover letter and r?sum? are error-free and written in business style. If you have spotted gaps in your r?sum?, reconfigure it to highlight your strengths, skills, major achievements and contributions to your previous and present employers.

Tips

Review and assess your situation

Identify your strengths and career goals

Activate your networks

Do your homework and get prepared