It may seem counterintuitive that despite the pandemic — or perhaps because of it — a surprising number of people are considering a voluntary career move. They may be motivated by an increasing sense of dissatisfaction with their present position or, on a more positive note, they may be identifying new opportunities as business leaders look to transform their industries and the way they operate and bring on new talent to achieve these goals.
The reality is that, as a job seeker, you’re either running from something or toward something. It’s important to understand what’s inspiring your search, in order to ensure your next move sets you up for greater success and satisfaction.
Identify What’s Driving You to Look
Before you embark on this path and invest time and energy into a job search, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you frustrated with something? Perhaps your boss, your pay, or the particulars of your role?
- Is there a different industry you feel drawn towards?
- What objective are you hoping to achieve both immediately and long-term?
Answering these questions is a critical first step. First of all, it gives you an opportunity to find greater career satisfaction without switching roles. For instance, if feeling underpaid is causing you to look elsewhere, but compensation aside you enjoy your role, it’s worth addressing that with your boss before pursuing a role that may not be as well suited to you.
Furthermore, without knowing the answers, you don’t know what led you to this point — and you run the risk of bringing your dissatisfactions with you to a new position. Considering your situation objectively is key to understanding what you need in your next position and where you can be successful.
Create a Personal Scorecard
Over the years, I’ve seen candidates make the wrong choice time and again when they consider an opportunity through a narrow career-focused lens, without recognizing how it impacts their broader goals in life.
I developed the candidate scorecard framework to help candidates — and their prospective employers — identify what really drives them in life, how this translates to their career, and how hard they’re willing to work to get there. The scorecard exercise requires introspection across three categories:
- Professionally: This is about building a roadmap for your next role and your long-term career. As you ask yourself what type of company values you are seeking out, what responsibilities you are craving, what seniority level you would ultimately like to reach, and what kinds of work are you most passionate about, consider how your current actions and behaviors set you up for those achievements. There’s often a discrepancy between what people think they want out of their careers and what they’re actually willing to work for — in this step you want to identify the second, so be honest with yourself.
- Personally: Our jobs play such a large role in our lives, that it’s impossible for them not to have an impact on our day-to-day happiness outside of work. Which means that when you’re chasing the next opportunity, you need to consider its impact on the rest of your life. Think about your objectives outside of your career. Do you want to train for a marathon? Rescue a dog? Plan a specific vacation? Work remotely full-time? What type of role or company will support these goals?
- Financially: It’s easy to group financial goals with professional ones, but they should really be viewed in silo. Your financial goals speak to your desired financial state, beyond your specific annual salary. Is it your goal to save for a second home? To put your kids through college? To retire by a certain age? Clarifying these targets will also help you clarify what you’re seeking in your next position — and what it will take to get there.
Writing down these desires forces you to be real with yourself as you recognize what goals and ambitions are important to you and how committed you are to reaching them. Once they’re on paper, you can also start to prioritize which elements of your scorecard are most important to you at this point in time, so that you can make a decision for the reasons that matter most to you.
Build Your Personal Brand
With a clear idea of what it is you’re looking for, it’s time to start your search by building a personal brand that helps you stand out in your field and grow your subject matter expertise. We often recommend starting on LinkedIn, where you can earn your industry’s attention by sharing your unique perspectives on the space.
Of course that means connecting with recruiters, business leaders, and hiring managers, but it should also include peers. After all, your personal brand isn’t all about accessing a new opportunity — it’s about building and engaging with your network.
Despite the difficult year behind us, hiring is still taking place — and as the economy starts to bounce back, more organizations will be in need of great people. Where some industries are struggling, others are seeing growth. If the time is right to make a move, be sure to identify why you want a change, what you need next, and what it will take to get there.