While looking for a job is an important activity, it is much more important to think about things to look for in a new job. Gone are the days, when you're fed up of what you're doing and move on to the next available opportunity without thinking through with a long-term perspective. We need to constantly change our strategy to adapt to the currently tough job market.
A few days into your new job and realization hits you that you were not cut out for it and you're looking for the next opportunity. Sounds familiar? Let us analyze some reasons for which you might quit a job and discover what to look for in the next opportunity that is presented to you, so that you don't find yourself in the process of looking for work regularly.
Things to Consider Before Switching to a New Job
Desirable Job Profile
How often has it happened that the job description looked pretty exciting when the Human Resources (HR) department called you with the "opportunity of your dreams"? All other things like the compensation package and everything else was even better than what you had and you grabbed the offer. A few days into your job and you realize what you're expected to do is vastly different from what you were told! This is a common mistake with first-timers who're not "seasoned" job hunters.
You must be very careful when discussing the job profile. Ensure that you speak to the right people within the organization. The HR of an organization often has a disconnect with the actual project team (or the department which actually wants to hire a candidate) when it comes to detailed job profiles. Add to that the pressure of meeting "hiring targets", you don't want to take only their word for it. At the end of the day, the attractive compensation, the brand name of the Company and all of that hardly matters when you're not going to be looking forward to coming to work every day.
Make sure that you ask about the job profile during the technical interview rounds or on-site rounds when typically the panel consists of people you might actually be working with (colleagues or reporting managers etc.), once you join. It is customary to ask the candidate if they have any questions. Grab the chance and ask what exactly will be the job description. You must probe enough to know what it's going to be like for you on a typical day in office, in terms of responsibilities. Make this an important factor to consider while accepting or rejecting the offer.
You need to be clear about what you want to do career-wise, map the offered job description to your goals and come to an informed decision. You will most likely not get exactly what you're looking for, but the job should at least be a stepping stone to where you want to go instead of leading to a completely different career path. Again, depending on your experience level, you must weigh the pros and cons. If you're a fresh graduate with little or no experience, you might want to make more compromises to work your way to your goals. However, if you're a seasoned professional, you might become more rigid with your expectations. Take your time on this point and you will reap the benefits of this consideration not just in the short term but also in the long term.
Long-term Career Prospects
Not to repeat the above point, but it is essential to ask yourself, "Where do I see myself in this organization 2 years from now or 5 years from now?". Each day at this new job must take you closer to your career goals. If you're not sure about this with the information you have, ask around. Check within your network of colleagues and acquaintances who are in similar job profiles and ask where it is leading them. Ensure that it is not a stagnant profile in that it should offer enough scope for growth opportunities within and outside the organization.
Based on the position offered to you, ask about your supervisor, peers and subordinates in a manner in which to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Check if you will have a colleague who will help you in your first days in the company with regard to the work and the work environment.
Financial Terms of Employment
- Compensation Package: You might say, "come on, of course I know this is an important factor to consider, it's a no-brainer". But how often do we really study the detailed compensation plan that we're offered? Rarely. Most people look at the gross annual compensation figure, find it above expectations or compare to their present earnings and get excited at the figure in the offer letter. When the first salary is credited to your account, that is when you scurry back to the detailed compensation plan and realize that a lot of the "deductions" are not obvious or standard or that a good chunk of your compensation is tied to your performance (often referred to as "variable component" of your gross pay or "incentive pay").
- Other Perks: Then of course, you also realize that a lot of the standard employee perks are available only after you complete a "probationary" period in the organization. Most of this data is not even in fine print but quite well explained in the offer letter (more like a magazine with several pages of information) and which you conveniently ignored in the excitement of landing your dream job!
- Appraisal System: The appraisal system of the company is also something you must inquire about, before accepting the offer. It varies from organization to organization but quite typically, decides when you will be due for your next compensation review, based on a certain set of performance factors. Again, a question for your reporting manager and not just the HR. No harm in checking with your contacts, if any, within the organization. Knowledge of the performance factors will equip you to be adequately measured right from day one. You do not have to wait until the first feedback session to discover you were supposed to be doing several other things to be eligible for a good appraisal. Do not take this lightly as it will not only affect your morale but you will find it difficult to focus on your work due to the lack of motivation.
- Company Culture: The company website, for most reputed companies, will give you enough information about the company, its financial standing, its leadership and management and even the corporate culture and values. But you need to ensure that the values are actually applied in the day-to-day work environment. Make use of the time that you spend in their office during interviews to chat up with other employees (perhaps at the water cooler or cafeteria) and see and judge for yourself whether the values are manifested. If it's a company with a huge population of disgruntled employees or repulsive management policies, it will easily present even in casual conversations. You will need a certain degree of emotional intelligence to make this judgment. However, a major reason for employees to leave organizations, is a major mismatch in the company values and its implementation, so give this careful consideration.
- Work Location, Timings, Travel and Transportation: Ask specifically where you will be deployed on a permanent basis, whether you will require to travel often, whether the job involves extended overseas travel, etc. In case of a local location, ask if the company provides transportation or reimburses conveyance expenses, etc. Also inquire about the work schedule and whether there's frequent overtime or night shifts, etc. These factors are often dependent on the nature of your work, for example, a marketing job generally involves traveling outside the work location on a frequent basis. Based on your other responsibilities and priorities in life, or any other location constraints that you may have, these considerations will greatly impact your final decision.
- Work-Life Balance: Inquire about the leave policies, flexibility in work timings and the availability of a work-from-home option. This is especially important if you're a working mother and if your baby is quite young. Similarly, if you have dependent parents with serious disabilities, then you may not want to commit to a job that entails frequent overtime, overseas travel and client pressures leading to inability to remain absent from work even for a couple of days. Also, ask around if there are any non-work events happening from an employee welfare perspective. For example, whether there are fun activities and outings happening on a regular basis to bond with colleagues and superiors, outside the work environment. Based on your personal constraints, ensure that you will be able to get a good work-life balance.
The above list provides pointers to what you should look for in your next work opportunity. However, there are certain things you can do to attract the right kind of employers even before you're being interviewed by prospective employers.
Craft a Good Resume
- Reflect your desires in your resume. Do not go overboard with your expectations, instead paint a clear picture about what you're looking for in your next job and highlight it in your resume.
- Having expressed your desires, ensure your resume is tailor-made to mirror exactly those kind of skills that would be required for the kind of job you're looking for. Try and differentiate yourself from your competition in those specific skills so that you gain an advantage in the screening process itself.
- Highlight educational achievements and certifications that relate most to your desired profile. This will help even online job search engines to deliver the right kind of jobs into your email.
There are several tips for job search to help you in your quest for a new job. With proper planning and preparation, it will be possible to convey your expectations to prospective employers and hopefully, you will find something that you enjoy doing the most.