Career Skills

5 Things to Keep In Mind When Changing Careers

There’s a lot to think about when you’re considering a career change

by Lauren Brookes

There are few areas that cause feelings of stress and uncertainty as much as the thought of changing careers. After all, it’s not only looking for relevant positions and trying to assert yourself as the best candidate. You must also be on your toes throughout the entire experience in order to seize a good opportunity – as it’s imperative to keep your skills sharp to avoid losing out to another competitive job seeker.

If you’re currently unhappy with what your career situation looks like, you’re probably ready to start scouting for new options. While starting out on a new job hunt can surely be overwhelming, here are a few questions you can ask yourself that will help you better navigate the murky waters of job searching:

1. What Does Your Ideal Job Look Like?

Realizing that you are unhappy with where you’re currently at career-wise is the first step towards improving your situation, but it shouldn’t end there. Too many people get so entangled in their unhappiness at a position that they accept any job offer that gets them away from their current job and into something new.

While this way of thinking is understandable, it’s important to conduct the necessary research to ensure that you won’t hastily jump into a position that leaves you just as miserable as you were before. If you wish to end up in a position that you’ll actually see a happy future in, take time to specify the things you dislike at your current job and also highlight what you feel would make you truly satisfied. Here are a few things to start thinking about:

  • Salary. Money matters, and if you feel that you’re currently underpaid for the work you’re doing, search for a company that is willing to pay you the industry standard.
  • Benefits. Health insurance, sick days, child care/parental leave, vacation time, bonuses, etc. are all elements that contribute to workplace satisfaction. While you might not be able to find someone who provides all of these exactly how you see fit, look for something that comes close.
  • Work-life balance. A study conducted in 2015 reported that 75% of employees listed flexibility in the workplace as the most important benefit a company can offer them. Better work-life balance also has been shown to increase productivity and reduce employee turnover. As you can see, feeling that you have more time to focus on your personal development, your family, and your friends will most likely lead you to feeling happier with your career, so seek out an employer who values this as well.
  • Stability of the company. The less stable a company is, the more stress will trickle down from the top and onto you. Likewise, you don’t want to settle down into a job that doesn’t have the most secure future ahead. To avoid issues like this, take your time to research a company before accepting an offer to see if it has a solid track record or a positive projection for success.
  • Commute. This may seem like a minuscule detail, but long commutes, especially with heavy traffic, can make employees dread heading into work. If you are the kind of person who just wants to get back home as soon as possible after a long day, this may be something that factors into your choices.
  • Opportunities for advancement. If your old job didn’t provide any opportunities for you  to advance and grow, avoid getting into the same stationary situation again. Do you research and ask questions before accepting an offer so that you are clear with how probable promotions and growth will be.

2. What Kind of Company Culture Will Fulfill You Best?

Being satisfied with the pay, benefits, and perks of a job plays a tremendous role in your overall happiness with your career, but it’s still not the entire picture. At the end of the day, clashing harshly with your superiors, your co-workers, or the work environment itself will still leave you feeling frustrated. While you don’t have to be best friends with everyone in the workplace, you should be able to clearly communicate, collaborate, and voice your opinion.

It’s difficult to judge if you will mesh with a company culture before diving in, but there are ways you can test the waters, such as:

  • Read over the company’s website. Does their mission statement seem relatable to you? Do the company’s values seem to overlap with your own? What do reviews on Glassdoor and Yelp say?
  • How was the interview? Did the interviewers seem to communicate well and treat you with respect?
  • Assess whether the workplace is a laidback startup or a by-the-books agency or corporation.
  • Simply ask. When communicating with the hiring professional, ask questions specifically about the workplace culture.

3. Can Your Skills, Experience, and Education Easily Relate to Multiple Positions?

When looking for a new job, it’s helpful to acknowledge your transferable skills. These are skills  that are valuable and applicable among different industries and employment opportunities. For example, if you are an executive looking for a new senior role, your past experience overseeing and organizing projects, setting deadlines, managing time, delegating tasks, solving conflicts and issues, etc. will be highly marketable even if you don’t choose to go into the exact same industry.

Analyzing your credentials and skills will help you expand your viable options during your job search, and when you realize how many of them can easily cross over to a different role or field, you might discover a new career path that you’ll fall in love with.  

4. What Issues Do You Refuse to Budge On, and Which Ones Can You Compromise On?

As noted above, illustrating the details of what your ideal job looks like helps establish what type of situation will be the most conducive to your long-term success and happiness. That being said, it’s extremely rare for a job to match every single preference that you have.

As with life in general, perfection is a myth more than it is a reality, so do some thinking as to what issues you are willing to compromise on and which ones you absolutely cannot budge on.

For example, you may be willing to work for a lower salary than you desire if it means you have more paid time off or are able to work from home from time to time. Differentiating your wants from your necessities will help you make more practical career decisions, and doing so will also give you a stronger foundation to negotiate with potential employers on.

5. Have You Considered Working With Executive Recruiters?

Job searching can be a turbulent and confusing experience, especially in competitive niches. If you don’t know where to start, or if you keep hitting dead-ends, it never hurts to reach out to hiring professionals. Executive recruiters are the matchmakers of the career world, and they work hard to match job seekers to relevant positions. They help the candidates who they select land and prepare for interviews and negotiate hiring terms.

While most recruiting firms are hired by employers to find qualified candidates (not the other way around), there are ways for you to get executive recruiters’ attention, such as:

  • Seek out a search firm that specializes in your niche. You can outreach to them directly and network and connect with them on LinkedIn. Don’t be overly eager or pushy, but just let them know you’re available.
  • Check their websites frequently for new job listings. Many executive recruitment websites have their own job boards that you can apply and send your resumes through directly.
  • Optimize your LinkedIn to use keywords effectively. Recruiters often search for qualified candidates using the position they’re recruiting for as the keyword (e.g., senior construction project manager). Place the title of the position you want to be hired for in your title, headline, summary, etc. so that your profile pops up when someone is hiring for that role.

And finally, 

Job searching can be a trying, time-consuming experience. Oftentimes you know you want something different, but you’re not exactly sure how to get it. The good news is that if you take the time to clarify what you do and don’t want out of a job and company, assess what transferable skills you have to offer, and learn how to best get hiring professionals to notice you, you should be well on your way to being to landing a great gig!

 

Bio

Lauren Brookes is a writer who loves to help dish out career advice to those in the mood for a career change. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the depths of beauty in Colorado, her home state in the USA.

 

Career Tips: Setting New Year Resolutions for Success

Deciding what to do about your career resolutions this year?

 

by Karen Adamedes

Welcome to 2018! Another fresh and still sparkly year.

I just did an online search for “New Year Resolutions” and got over 56 million results. Although I do think 55 million of these are selling weight loss and fitness programs it suggests that many of us take the calendar turning over to a new year as a chance to take a breath and think about what we want to do differently.

What career success looks like for you is entirely up to you (scary isn’t it?). It could be more money, more balance, more networking, more skills, more responsibility, more flexibility…(you get the picture)…it’s up to you to define success for you.

If you’re not sure what you want to do differently here are some ideas from an earlier post of questions you can ask yourself to work out what you really want.

If you do know what your goals are, here are some quick tips for a few scenarios of what you might like more of in your career:

More Money

  • Evaluate if you should/could be paid more for your current position. If so, schedule a meeting with your manager.
  • Don’t just ask for a raise… ask what you could do in order for a promotion or an increase in salary to be possible. Work out a plan and a time frame with your manager and then do it.
  • If your company is not willing to pay you more or help you advance – consider options with another organization.
  • Be realistic with your expectations. You may need to do something different. Think about the additional skills you might need or if it’s time for an alternative career.

More Responsibility

  • Is it a promotion that you aspire to, payment of a bonus or simply the satisfaction of more interesting work? Understand your motivation.
  • Ask. When you understand what you want and why – asking your manager to give you more responsibility will usually lead to being given additional tasks (if not straight away – in the longer term) or feedback about why it’s not possible now (which give you insights about if you need some patience or a Plan B) and at the very least, a conversation about your career.
  • Help a colleague out. Often the best way to show you can do more is..show you can do more.

More Skills

  • Find a mentor. They know stuff and will share it with you.
  • Network. Within or outside of your company – it doesn’t really matter – it’s amazing what you can learn when you talk to people.
  • Read. Blogs, books, magazines – in your field, related or irrelevant. You can always learn something new. Worst case scenario you might expand your vocabulary, have a laugh or be inspired to find something else!
  • Formal training. If you need a specific skill – go and learn it.
  • Learn your craft. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to move onwards and upwards in your career. Make sure that you have mastered your current role – this will set you up with a much greater chance for success for what you want to do next.

Whatever your goals are for this year…think of some ideas and options to achieve them. Write a list on your phone, talk to a friend. Work out what you want. Have a plan to take you beyond the freshness of the New Year. And then, do something about it.

Happy 2018 Career Crew!

Karen

P.S. My resolution is to write more…so lots of tips, blogs (and a couple of books, well maybe one) headed your way in 2018!

 

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Steps to negotiate a new salary

 

by Akansha Arora

Negotiating your salary can be tricky – whether you are aiming for a raise or have been offered a new job. Many of us shy away from negotiating salaries in order to not complicate matters. But, negotiating your self-worth is crucial. Failing to do so can cause you huge losses.

Whatever reasons you may be reluctant to negotiate, you need to ask for what you deserve.

To navigate through the deadly process of salary discussion, here are some steps to follow:

Timing

The first step to negotiating a salary is to consider the timing. If it is for a new job, you should discuss it is when they are interested in you rather than after joining. Employers usually expect that there will be some negotiations before the person actually accepts the offer. Do your market research and have a comfortable range in your mind before you start discussing this with your future employer.

Considering the next case, if you are one of those who have been in a job for long and now desire a raise, consider if you have had new roles or responsibilities or have you successfully completed a project lately? If you have, then this might be the correct time to ask for a raise. Bring a positive attitude in the discussion suggesting that you are committed to the company in the long run. The discussion should reflect your recent achievements and the value you have created for the organization

Do Your Research

Once you know the correct timing, you need to do some homework. Google about market trends, industry insights and what is going on in your field. Consider your location as salaries widely depend on the cost of living of a particular city or locality.

You can also reach out to your professional network asking them to validate a salary range rather than relying solely on website information.

Talk Boastfully About Your Achievements

When you are know what salary you are asking for and have sufficient data to support your value, it is time for you to begin the conversation. Talk about the value you have added or would be adding to the company business. This is the time to demonstrate your skills, how have or will increase productivity, efficiency and customer satisfaction. It is time to talk about what you have achieved in your years of experience.

Revise your resume before you submit it so that it is in line with the benefits you are able to offer and employer.

Do Not Compare Yourself to Others

“I should get a raise because ABC makes this much”

Avoid any type of comparison when you are in conversation with your employer for a raise. This is the last thing they want to hear. Comparing does not make sense as you have no idea about the factors that determine someone else’s salary. Stick to yourself and only talk about valid reasons why should you be given a raise.

Determine your needs and employer’s budget and then based on your searches quote a suitable range. You can also ask for a range from the employer before you tell them your expectations. This would give a little more leverage to negotiate on the higher end of the range provided by the employer

Keep Your Calm

No matter what happens, do not lose your calm. Your salary negotiation can be successful and it might not be. In case your employer does not support your request, have in your mind the possible next steps. You could probably:

  • Wait for six months and revisit the issue
  • Ask for variables or other perks like vacations or paid leaves
  • Ask for more responsibilities so that you can justify the raise

If none works, always end your conversation on a positive note so that future doors are always open.

In the End

Negotiating is not easy. It was never and it never will be. These steps, however, can be convincing enough for an employer to consider your request. If you can successfully prove to your employer that you are worth the raise, you are most likely going to get it. Stay aware, stay updated and stay calm for a successful salary raise discussion.

Akansha Arora is on Twitter @akansha28

What to do when…you’re asked to keep something confidential

by Karen Adamedes

Well this might be the shortest post I write all year…because the answer to this is pretty obvious. If you’re asked to keep something to yourself…do it!

Information is valuable currency in an organisation and sometimes it’s hard to keep the confidentiality you’ve been asked to keep.

It’s great to be seen as someone who is ‘ in-the-know’ and can break up the monotony of a work day when you know something that would make quite juicy gossip!

Or you might be tempted to share information that you know is going to impact others. If a colleague confides that they are leaving you might feel like your manager should be forewarned. If you’re told about a situation that is going to impact someone in your team you might be tempted to let them know.

But careers and reputations are built on trust. And keeping information you are asked to keep confidential is key to career credibility.

And hopefully there is a good reason why something is being kept quiet – often due to needing to tell other people (customers, managers, co-workers) in the right order. It’s respectful to let that process play out.

There are though a couple of things you can do to make confidences easier on yourself…

Ask how long the information is going to be confidential

If you know how long you need to be quiet it can make it much easier. If a colleague has told you they are going to resign or have a baby – there’s bound to be a date planned for the news to be made public. And it’s the same with customer or business information – there will be a plan for telling others.

Ask if anyone else knows

If there is someone you can freely talk to it might be a relief to be able to say “isn’t it great that Megan has that big promotion”.

Ask yourself why

When you’re told something in confidence it’s probably because you need to know (before others), someone has news they want to share (and they trust you) or because your (valued) opinion is being sought. Think about the why and then file the info away. Or if it’s something you need to think through or act on – you can do so without getting caught up in the secrecy of the situation.

There are exceptions though

If you’re about to be told something that you just can’t keep to yourself – let the person know that you have a conflict and would prefer not to know.

And the other big one for me is if you’re told something that is illegal or basically against the rules of your company. In those cases you must do what you must do.

But fortunately this is likely to be a rare circumstance and confidences should be kept.

Your credibility is on the line.

So keep what you’ve been told ‘under your hat’ and don’t let the ‘cat out of the bag’ – your trust will be valued!

 

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