According to the site CareerBuilder, the top New Year’s resolution at work is to find a new job, with 21 percent of workers pledging to leave their employer in 2016. Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Standard Life and Research Now suggests that 54pc of Brits want to change career, with this figure rising to 73pc for 25 to 34-year olds.
When it comes to careers, the New Year isn’t just an arbitrary point on the calendar – it really is one of the best times to look for a new job. There are two reasons for this. First, the job market winds down towards the end of the year and picks up again in January. Second, research suggests that tying a career goal to a “temporal landmark” such as New Year really does make you more likely to succeed. This has been dubbed “the fresh start effect.”
It’s a good time in terms of the wider economy too. Corinne Mills, MD of Personal Career Management, says, “A lot of organisations are expanding and it’s a bit of a seller’s market if you’re in the private sector. 2016 is going to be a great year to change jobs or even careers.”
Essentially there are two types of job hunt, although the advice for both is broadly similar.
The first is just getting a new job. Perhaps you’ve stayed in your current job longer than you’d expected because of the long recession. Perhaps there’s no obvious way forward or next step up in you current company. You may dislike a boss or just want a change. Finally, you may want more money (the single best way to enjoy a big salary bump is to change employers).
The second type of job hunt is rather harder. This is where you want to change careers or sectors. It’s a good time to do this too. The economy is doing well, so companies will be seeing high numbers of staff leaving – and will be more inclined to take a chance on good people who come from less conventional backgrounds.
If you want to move into an area where there are plenty of jobs, CareerBuilder suggests that, after nursing, the big ones are marketing and sales managers and IT; while CareerBuilder’s list is for the US, our economies are similar enough that it holds broadly true for UK too. Ms Mills says, “If you are looking for areas where there’s going to be long-term demand, companies will always needs sales and marketing people as well as finance and operations staff.”
According to Ms Mills, IT is interesting because, while there is strong demand, it’s a constant race to ensure your skills are up to date.
Finally, she adds, in a country with an ageing population, any job which depends on the grey pound will also be a good long-term bet. (It’s worth remembering here that these jobs are no longer just “wiping bums” in nursing homes: you could work for an upmarket holiday company that specialises in taking wealthy retirees to exotic destinations like Angkor Wat.)
Even with a fair economic wind at your back, making a big career change isn’t entirely straightforward. You should start by thinking about your interests, what you’re really good at and what really motivates you. Think too about why you want to leave your current job. It may not be the job you actually dislike, it could be the company or your boss.
Next, really research the area you want to go into. Think about the “transferable skills” which you can take easily from one role to another and also any skills you may have that you don’t currently use at work. It’s important that you do all this before jumping into your job hunt. “People often fix on a bright and shiny new career without a period of reflection,” says Jane Barrett, co-founder of The Career Farm. “Then they wind up miserable in the new job.”
Next, you need to get out there and network. Natasha Stanley, head of content at Careershifters, suggests that you “Turn your job hunt on its head and look for people not jobs.” Again this is because you are not an obvious candidate. If you send you out dozens of CVs or apply for hundreds of jobs online you’ll probably be rejected. But if people meet you face-to-face they’ll realise that you’re really excited about working in their industry and that you could be an asset.
“Go to events, seminars and talks and set up informational interviews,” suggests Ms Stanley. “Start acting like you’re part of the industry you want to work in. Speak to headhunters, your contacts and ask your friends if they know people in the sector you want to work in. “Seventy five percent of jobs aren’t advertised – so you probably won’t find a role for someone with no obvious experience there,” says Ms Stanley.
Remember too that many companies run referral schemes whereby existing employees can recommend friends. Again this can be a great way to get a foot in the door: Ms Barrett says, “I worked with a professional basketball player who did an MBA at Bath and then got a job at Oracle via an internal referral.” Don’t neglect smaller companies either. They’re often growing fast and have much less rigid entry requirements than the big household names.
The point with all of this is that if you are changing careers, you will not be the number one candidate for the job, so you need to make yourself stand out and put a bit of effort. This means getting up from your laptop and going out into the real world.
“Endlessly researching careers you might like online gives a feeling of fake productivity,” cautions Ms Stanley.
By Rhymer Rigby – Telegraph