Monday, 19 November 2012

Finding a fabulous job (part 1): Is it time to start job-hunting?

The job market is tight. That’s a given. But even in bad economies, good businesses - the kind you want to work for - need good people. And when
times are tough, having the right kind of staff is more important than ever. 

So, whether you’re stuck in a dead-end job, a stay-at-home mom who’s ready to start working again, or just plain unemployed, dump the fear, stop making excuses and start making plans.  Your ideal job is out there.  

About the "Fabulous Job" series

“Finding a fabulous job” is a big topic, so I am going to break it up into smaller chunks and deal with it in a series of posts.  In this post I will look at how to know if its time for you to start job-hunting.  In future posts I will be covering topics like:

  • Preparing for a job search
  • Building an interesting CV 
  • Using your network
  • Preparing for interviews
  • Impressing interviewers
  • What to do after an interview
  • Negotiating an offer
  • Your first day

Don't wait until you're desperate

Every day you spend at your job is a transaction - your are trading your time, skills and knowledge for a salary.  Rule number one in any transaction is this:  The person who has the most at stake is in the weakest power position.

In healthy workplace transactions the balance of power varies, but overall it is roughly equal. Both employee and employer are satisfied with the relationship, and most of the time things run smoothly.

When there is a power imbalance, things don’t work well. Either the employee "takes chances", fails to pull their weight or creates some sort of problem,  or the employer is unreasonable, disrespectful, or even downright abusive.  When this starts happening, regardless of who is at fault, it is time to launch a job search.

Consider moving if...

  • You often find yourself looking for excuses not to go to work, or do what you have to do
  • You receive more negative than positive feedback
  • You've had a verbal or written warning
  • You are often sick
  • You don't enjoy how you spend your days
  • You deeply resent any aspect of your job
  • There is a conflict between your values and ethics, and your employer's
  • You have lost respect for yourself, your employer or the people you regularly work with 
  • You are bored and there is little opportunity to learn anything new
  • You are subject to any kind of verbal abuse or bullying
  • You find yourself verbally abusing or bullying colleagues or staff

Even if you think your employer is being unfair, in fact, especially if you think your employer is being unfair, things are not likely to improve without a major reshuffle - and you might not have much control over the outcome.

One caveat:  If this has been your experience in most of the jobs you've had, you might be the one with a problem. You need to do some honest soul searching  and see a therapist or coach if you can.  Its important that you figure out what you need to change in order to have a satisfying life and career.

Finding a job is easier when you already have one

In spite of everything I've said so far, its risky to just "up and quit" without another job lined up.  Even if you can afford to be without work for several months, its much, much harder to find a job when you are unemployed.

Potential employers tend to look askance at unemployed job-seekers.  Its like they have an internal bias that says: "This person is suspicious - why won't anyone else hire them?".  So, unless you have a very good reason - and by "good" I mean one that would make you look good in the eyes of a potential employer, don't quit your job just yet.

If you are already unemployed, consider part-time or contract work, temping or doing some kind of locum work.  Apart from the income it will bring in, these types of jobs often become permanent, and it creates the impression that you are eager to work.  If you've been at home with children or unemployed for a while, it will also help get you back into the "working" routine.  

Its also important that you are able demonstrate t that you have used your "free" time productively.  If a temporary job is not feasible, try taking a course or two, or volunteering.  That way when you get the interview for your dream job you will have evidence that you are pro-active and motivated.

When “sticking it out” is a bad idea

I grew up with the idea that one should “stick to things”, and “keep at it until you get it right”.  Most of the time this is good advice, but in a bad job situation this can be career suicide.  

The more you hate your job, the more poorly you will do it. The weaker your performance, the more negative feedback you will receive.  The more negative feedback you receive, the more you will hate your job.  Its a vicious cycle.

Not only that, but is the longer you stay, the harder it becomes to leave.  Delaying the inevitable simply means that your confidence will keep dropping, and the less confidence you have, the more "unemployable" you will feel.  Of course, the more unemployable you feel, the more "unemployably" you will act - and the more “unemployably” you act, the less likely you are to find, and recognize, the fantastic opportunities that are out there waiting for you.

If you are miserable at work, the best solution is to being searching for a job where you can offer your best self with generosity, and have it received with gratitude.

What about you - are you ready to make a change?

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