For quite awhile, you have had a growing feeling of restlessness. You know it’s time to move on, to dust off the resume, look up some of your old contacts, and find that job you know you are ready to handle.
But are you truly ready? As many career counselors will tell you, far too many jobseekers are not fully prepared to make the kind of commitment needed to be successful in a new position.
Your financial situation may be a valid reason to put things off. If you are having your salary garnished for child support, back taxes or some other debt judgment, your new employer will think less of you. It would be better to get current with your debtors, so your personal finances do not become an issue with your new boss.
If your new job search will involve relocation, you are going to need more cash than you expect. If you are a homeowner, you no doubt have checked out the difference in housing costs. If you are moving out of California, the good news is you will probably be able to buy more house with less money.
However, rather than buy a home right away, you might want to rent first. Not only will a rental take the pressure off a rushed home-buying decision, the extra time will give you a chance to get to know your new town and to spot the best housing deal when it comes up. It will also allow you some flexibility in evaluating your new job. If it turns into a big disappointment, it’s easier to move on if you don’t have to sell a home in a slow real estate market.
Once, when I calculated it was time for my own job change, I realized I needed to get my health in order first. So I delayed my job search until I underwent the elective surgery I had been putting off. That way I had my employer’s insurance coverage and the sick time needed to cover the expense and time needed to recoup.
More importantly, I was now able to show up at a new job and put in a solid year’s work before taking any time off.
That also gave me enough time to establish my reputation as a solid performer in the new position. There is, after all, nothing worse than having to ask for a long time off when you have just taken a new job.
Sometimes, of course, complications cannot be helped. Illness and family commitments may leave you no choice.
But a new employer does not necessarily have to grant you the time off. Remember, your absence will create an additional burden on the company you were hoping to impress.
So, if you have a lingering health problem, an imminent family reunion on the East Coast, or an ailing uncle who needs your attention, you might consider holding off on that job search. Try to work things out with your present employer, who is likely to be more understanding of your predicament.
Update Your Skills
Before looking for that new job, it would be wise to make a frank assessment of your skills. Has your present job enabled to you remain current with the latest software or equipment? If not, you might want to explore low-cost training programs at a local adult school, regional occupation program, community college or private vocational program.
Not only will it make you more attractive as an applicant, you will be more valuable as a new employee if you can bring some of the latest and greatest expertise to the job.
Adjust Your Attitude
If you are indeed ready physically and financially to pursue that new job, make sure you are mentally prepared to become a new hire.
Don’t let your new job slip away because of a deficit in your job retention skills. Develop a plan for success by finding more ways to be dependable, responsible and ethical. With good communication and a desire to improve, you are more likely to find satisfaction in your new position.
Here are some of the qualities needed once you land the job, as outlined by John Liptak, EdD, author of Job Survival and Success Scale (JIST, 2005).
Trustworthiness is an attribute that must be earned. You want to be the one your boss can count on, so prove it. Start by dressing for success, dropping bad habits, and being on time.
Take some initiative, be accountable, and follow through at work and in your career. Get as much training as you can and pay attention. Be sure you know the tasks that are required, how to perform them, and how you will be evaluated. "Become a lifelong learner and be in control of your own career," says Liptak.
Effective communication and teamwork skills are vital to your success in any job. Value differences and diversity in the cultures, preferences, and individual characteristics of others. Be honest, direct, positive and supportive.
It is all about doing the right thing. Follow organizational policies and guidelines. If in doubt about what is right, ask yourself questions such as: Is it legal? How will it make me feel about myself? How will others feel? What will happen as a result?
Getting Ahead. Make a commitment to improve on the job and in your career. Showcase and improve your skills by building a track record of success. Implement suggestions made by your supervisor, take initiative, and keep a record of your supervisor’s notes regarding work progress.