When you join an organization, you don’t enter the door thinking about your next job change. You enter the door feeling enthusiastic, eager and ready to prove yourself. Somewhere along the line, whether by choice or not, you do start thinking of a job change again. It’s best to be always prepared for it at any time in your career. Here are 15 tips on how to change jobs smoothly.
1. Update Your Resume
Whether you plan on jumping jobs every few years or not, it pays to keep your resume updated and current. As you develop new skill sets, gain specific experiences and make significant achievements, update your resume. Keep a well-written covering letter ready as well, as this is what cinches the first impression.
2. Update Your Online Profile
While you update your resume, it’s very important to also update your professional profile online. If you’re a member of LinkedIn or a similar professional career-oriented portal, update your profile with recent changes and achievements. You may need to provide your LinkedIn profile to your prospective employers for reference later.
3. Update Your Profiles On Job-Search Engines
If you have accounts on Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com or any of the many other job-search engines, take the time to update your profile. Put up a more recent picture, add details and do a couple of preliminary job searches. If you find that you fit a few job descriptions out there but a little tweaking of your profile will establish a better fit, make those tweaks.
4. Keep Your References Current
Compile a list of recent references. If you don’t have letters of recommendation from your previous employers, now’s the time to ask them. While you’re at it, ping your professional contacts on LinkedIn and ask them to recommend you online. Don’t leave this activity pending till you actually decide to jump jobs.
5. Collect Contact Information
Depending on the nature of your work, collect information for your co-workers, customers, vendors, clients, network partners and so on. You’ll need this information for future networking purposes and job references.
6. Analyze The Reason For Your Planned Move
Evaluate your motivation for the job change. Perhaps you’re unhappy in your current job because of a personal issue? Analyze what’s getting your goat; is it your coworker, manager, salary or designation? Knowing the answer to this question will help you zero in on the right job or career next time.
7. Have A Clear Job Change Roadmap
Create an effective job or career change strategy, including a detailed action plan. Your roadmap should take several factors into consideration such as: research, finances, skills, training, education, ambition and goals. Unless there’s a need to hurry, take your time to analyze both short and long term goals while forming your roadmap.
8. Time Your Move Strategically
Evaluate which months of the calendar year are hot in the recruitment area. Many organizations tend to hire people in the beginning of the new year, in order to start the new budget with a clean slate. If you’re due for an incentive or a pay hike, wait for it to happen before you plan your move. That way you’ll have the additional pay and more financial leverage at your new job.
9. Research Your Options
Quietly collect information on the health of your industry. Find out present attrition levels and see if you might fare better in a different domain altogether. Find out what kind of paymasters other organizations in your niche are. Evaluate pay and job options in other states as well. Thoroughly research all your options before you decide where to apply.
10. Determine Your Priorities
What holds greater importance to you? Money, the power of a senior position, greater learning opportunities, travel, more relaxed reporting structure or flexible work timings? Our priorities change along with our life circumstances. Spend time in thoughtful self-reflection and ask yourself where you see yourself five years from now.
11. Evaluate Your Skill Sets Against Job Profiles
Read as many job descriptions as you can on job search sites. Things change; for example, if you are a website developer, you might find that employers ask for SEO skills as well nowadays. It helps to evaluate your skill sets against market demands now and then so that you know exactly where you fit and how to update your skills to widen your scope.
12. Investigate Other Career Domains
If you want to try a different field of work, or work in a different domain, get a feel for it. Subscribe to industry journals, talk to people, attend conferences; evaluate the growth potential of your target industry. Check out job openings in other domains online. See if you can make a career shift smoothly.
13. Nurture Professional Relationships
You need to remember that whether you like someone personally or not, you need to nurture professional friendships with everyone. You never know who’ll have that important piece of information or who may be able to give you the push you need. Network online, attend job fairs, trade conferences and networking events.
14. Polish Your Job-Hunting Skills
Our job hunting skills get outdated every year. It’s necessary to update them now and again. If, in previous years, you used to submit your resume to a headhunter and sat back for the offers to pour in, now you need to hunt for jobs online. Things change; go with the flow and update your job hunting skills to fit the current job search market.
15. Cover Your Bases
Evaluate what you’ll be losing or gaining if you were to quit your present job. Check if you’ll still be eligible for your current corporate health and life benefits, unused sick pay, accrued vacation pay, and any other payouts. Note that you’ll have to cover your health between jobs till your new policy starts. In case of job termination, check with your employer if you’re eligible for COBRA. In this case, file for unemployment immediately.