Working in recruitment I read applications from candidates looking for a new job all day long. I am often asked the question “is it a good time to change my job?” and “how likely is it that I could have a change of direction in my career?” The answer to both questions is far from straightforward and is dependent on many factors. In my work I notice the trends in availability of both people looking for a job and the amount of live vacancies available from my clients. In the recent period of recession there have been severe fluctuations in both factors which impact on opportunities for job seekers.
In this article I will try to provide some ground rules and guidance for you if you are thinking of changing your job and specifically having a complete change of direction.
If you are trying to change your direction and move into a new career, my general advice at this point in time is Don’t do it! However I would like to add a couple of clarifying points to this. If you are in a secure position where you are, consider the state of the world economy and the daily news of redundancies. There are at present large numbers of people losing their jobs due to the recession, many of these will be highly skilled and experienced in their area and will be joining the long list of job seekers looking for their next job. If you are trying to change your direction in your career you will be competing with an increasing number of experienced applicants for the same role. I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from looking for a new job, on the contrary there are lots of really exciting opportunities out there, even in this time of economic suppression, but right now it’s probably more realistic to look at career opportunities within your existing area of skill and expertise. This advice applies equally to you if you have been made redundant and are looking for a new role. If there was ever a time to play your joker and use your areas of greatest strength it is now.
A good example to illustrate my point was a recent applicant who was a Chemist in a pharmaceutical company, he approached me for advice about getting a job in the offshore industry. He wanted to know if I thought he would get an interview for an offshore Chemist job. My advice was that I thought it highly unlikely that he would progress to interview stage in the face of competition from applicants with offshore Chemist experience. He said that he would be happy to pay for his own offshore survival and medical. Again I had to advise that simply possessing these certificates may not increase his chances, as the key factor in short listing would be evidence of relevant experience in the sector. My advice was that he should look at moving into a petrochemical / oil and gas related chemist role onshore initially so that he gained experience in the right sector, and that once he had done this he might even find that a company may sponsor his offshore survival and medical. So keep your expectations realistic, set your goal and work out a set of steps that you need to take to reach your goal. It may be that you need to take a number of small steps rather than a giant leap of faith.
Have you thought of finding a new role using your existing skills and experience but in a new way or with a new company? I spoke to a candidate only yesterday who was completely unaware until very recently that his skills were very much in demand. He is a Mechanical Engineer with particular experience in Maintenance and Reliability engineering and he has good petrochemical experience. At present there are a number of companies looking for these skills and this person was delighted to find out that he could command a good salary or daily rate in a new and challenging role with a new employer. He had been feeling that his role had become stale, it had lost its challenge and he felt stuck in a rut. What better time to look for a fresh new start where he can use his 30 years of experience in a new and interesting job, and in this persons case one that will pay generously for his knowledge. I’m currently waiting for news of an interview, and he was under the misapprehension that no one else would be interested in him! Nothing could be further from the truth for this person.
So if you are feeling like you’d like a change of job, analyse whether it is your duties, your employer, your career aspirations or your colleagues that you want to change, and decide which of these factors is the most important to you? Do you really need to change your direction completely, perhaps you just need more of a slight deviation than a complete U-Turn. Tempering your desire for complete change may prove more lucrative too. Now look for your next role, contact your recruitment agent and take advice. Spend time polishing and honing your CV, it’s your key to change, and is a critical factor in your success. Advice on writing a CV is addressed elsewhere on this blog, and finally, keep your expectations realistic. (However being a glass half full kind of girl I always struggle with this last one myself!)