There often comes a time in your career when you start to think about changing jobs. Whether internally in your company or externally, you begin to look for something new.
For more than 20 years, I’ve been involved in the hiring process for companies of all sizes. In the past, I’ve written about how to land an interview during your job search and how to get the job at the interview. But let us back up a little and think about where to start when considering a job transition.
Your job search journey should start with assessing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (or SWOT analysis).
When considering your strengths, start thinking about your tangible items, like degrees, certifications, and other types of training and education. Then, you can start considering the more intangible positive aspects of your personal makeup, such as being a team player, thinking strategically, and being a fast learner. Do not stop at a list of positive intangible traits; cite some examples of when you displayed these traits in a work situation — this will help you write your resume and interview.
Be honest about your weaknesses. Consider your lack of experience in areas, or if you have had employment issues in the past, that might be difficult to explain. Businesses will always ask if you were ever let go from a previous position, and they will often notice lapses in employment on a resume. Be honest with yourself upfront, so you know which issues might arise during a job search.
Opportunities include a shortage of qualified candidates in a particular geographic area or a hot career field. These things can make it easier to get hired and should be considered. Sometimes, the opportunity is not in the city you live and work in today. Threats, on the other hand, look at the challenges you might face entering the job market today. Some say that we are in the tightest labor market in years, making it challenging to get noticed in today’s uber-competitive recruiting environment.
Conducting this type of personal assessment can help set yourself up for success early on.
Before surfing the job boards and posting for every job under the sun, start with some research on job types, industries, and target companies. Using your SWOT analysis, examine what you might be good at and where the opportunities lie. This will help you target companies that are hiring for the jobs you might be good at.
If you start looking at the posted jobs that you would like to move to, see if you meet the minimum and preferred requirements for these jobs. It is generally easier to close the gaps in education, certification, and experience while you are still in your current job versus after you are unemployed.
There are many ways to get assistance as you consider a transition and prepare to step into the job market. Finding people in the positions you are looking at can help develop mentors and make good connections should you apply to their company. Many types of career fields have some sort of professional association you can join. These associations can provide a wealth of knowledge, education, and training and can connect you with possible mentors.
Leverage professional social media to research local job placement agencies. Find some connections and discuss with them what jobs are hot and ways to get in front of hiring managers. Agencies make money from placing candidates, and when they can identify candidates quickly, that looks good for them. Having ready talent at their fingertips is an asset, so they will definitely be in your corner.
If you are looking into a new executive position, there are a couple of other ideas to consider.
First, you can seek out headhunters. Like job placement agencies, headhunters are always looking for people with talent they can represent. There are also reputable executive search firms that you can connect with that are helpful. Both of these resources will work with you to help build your brand, increase your connections and find you an executive position. The major difference is that the hiring company normally pays a headhunter, while you pay for an executive search firm.
Searching for a job, especially in today’s competitive market, can be very challenging. Looking before you leap is always a good idea. It is easier to ensure you are ready before you leave your current position, so take a little time to prepare yourself.
This article has been reprinted with permission from John Knotts´ Forbes page.