Ready for a new job? Even if you think you’re content with the current pay and cohort of co-workers in your current gig, maybe it isn’t exactly what you dreamed you’d be doing. If you’re thinking about making a change, you’re not the only one.
While more than half of workers are satisfied with their current job according to Jobvite, 82 percent are also open to browsing for new opportunities – and now may be the perfect time to do so. With the U.S. unemployment rate dropping to a 17-year low of 4.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most educated and skilled workers are already employed.
At the same time, companies eager to grow alongside the bustling economy are grinding to find great new candidates to fill the high number of job openings. That means for the first time in years, candidates are picking the companies they want to work for and not vice versa.
Whether you’re ready to make a big change or just want to browse your options, here’s how to make the most of this new hiring landscape to explore new career opportunities.
Find Your Focus by Taking Internal Inventory
Before you can even think about the tactical approach to finding your dream gig, you need to take an internal inventory to figure out what is most important to you. In particular, you need to think about what is most critical to you at this stage in your life.
Are you looking to chase your dreams and do something more creative? Something with more work-life balance for your budding family? A fancy new title and corner office? Or maybe you want to get out of the corporate world altogether for something more low-key?
Think deeply about the past jobs or companies that you loved (and also the ones you didn’t), and then write down the qualities that made those special to you. Once you’ve compiled a list of your top priorities, it will become easier to assess whether certain companies align with your ultimate goals.
Do Your Homework on Companies
With so many companies desperate to find the talent they need, things can start to move really fast once you start exploring opportunities – much faster than you can control sometimes. Organizations are going to use any number of ways, from stacked company kitchen snack setups to exclusive gym memberships, to woo you. And if you haven’t done your homework, you may not discover what you really need to know about a company before it’s too late.
To make sure that doesn’t happen, a great place to start is Glassdoor. Check to see not only what interviewees have said about the company, but also whether current employees are contributing positive messages about the company. While you can’t believe everything you read, it should give you some general idea and vibe. It’s also a great way to identify potential red flags that you can then ask about during the interview process.
And when it comes to those interviews, be sure to find out whether you’ll ever have the opportunity to speak with someone who would be your peer. If not, that might be a warning that something is not quite right. If you really want the nitty-gritty, you can also do a backdoor check and get the 411 from someone who used to work at the company (if you can get them to chat with you).
And if it all seems too good to be true, you probably haven’t found the ugly yet. Many times, the downsides you do find aren’t something that goes against your values or internal inventory, but you need to dig deeper to find out before you sign the dotted line.
Consider Your Current Employer as Another Opportunity
As long as you’re discrete, it’s pretty low-pressure to apply for a new job at a new company. It’s a lot harder to have a conversation with your current manager about getting that promotion you want. But why not give it a shot? Your current company may surprise and step up to the plate to show you how much they value your presence, or they could send some strong indicators that it’s time to go.
Aside from maybe getting that awesome new role, it’s also an insurance policy for maintaining positive relationships – even if you ultimately decide to part ways. Instead of your boss begrudgingly asking: “Why didn’t you come talk to me?” as you put in your two weeks’ notice, you can truly level with them about a potential offer and give them a chance to match (or best) it.
They’ll appreciate you being upfront, and giving them a heads up will take the sting out of leaving so you can maintain a positive relationship moving forward.
Although there is a new hiring landscape, the old rules for searching for a job (while you have one) apply. Be smart and discrete – not browsing other jobs on your work laptop, etc. – and you’ll stay out of hot water with your current employer.
And when it comes to those new opportunities outside your organization, you have to be savvy. Don’t fall prey to shiny perks or the near supersonic speed with which the interview process has taken. If you go at your own pace, and keep your internal inventory on the forefront of your mind, you’ll turn your search into a positive career move in no time.