Health impacts aside, the Covid-19 pandemic has provided many people with the opportunity to reset and re-evaluate what is important to them. Considering Gettysburg College claims at least a third of your life is spent working, it is important that you find a fulfilling career.
“The Great Resignation” has been making headlines recently with an estimated 25 per cent of Australian workers looking to re-assess their work options by either switching roles at their work to something that better fulfils their needs, or by resigning altogether. While the jury is still out whether “The Great Resignation” indicated by the rise in the resignation rate is a long-term phenomenon, this is an opportunity for every individual to stop and evaluate their own career options and decide: Is this what I really want to be doing? If not, what can I do about it? Here are some things to consider before joining in the great resignation phenomenon and making a radical career change.
If you’re able to find purpose in your job, you are much more likely to be fully engaged and loving what you do. Research conducted by McKinsey Global Institute found that 70 per cent of people say they define their life purpose through work. Purpose, however, is split into individual and organisational purpose. Knowing your individual purpose is quite important in helping to guide the key decisions about why you want/need to work, what career you will find fulfilling and the type of organisation you want to work for.
Before you consider a major career change or what career paths you might prefer, it’s important to understand these different types of purposes. Having an idea of what is driving you will help you understand the type of work and organisation you should be aiming for. If your purpose is found in motivating factors like providing the resources needed to support your family or giving you the means to travel, then finding an organisation that unequivocally aligns with your values and beliefs may not be as critical. However, if your driving force is more intrinsic—if you can work for an organisation that you believe in, or one that has a company culture which aligns with your values—you are far more likely to love what you do! We all have aspects of our jobs that don’t excite us, but if you can see that even the less desirable tasks are still helping to contribute to a greater purpose, you’re more likely to find meaning and satisfaction in those tasks and.
Before you decide to hand in your resignation, it’s important to double check what the labour market is doing in your industry area. Regardless of what media outlets are calling it, “The Great Resignation” may not necessarily be happening in your work field. This means that opportunities may not be as plentiful as you thought they might be. Perhaps you’re working in an industry that’s suffering labour shortages or lots of employee turnover and there are plenty of job vacancies to apply for—that’s great. But if nobody is hiring, the chances of a successful career change diminish greatly. Research popular job sites for key positions and assess if there is a growing opportunity for a shift in roles that aligns with your current career goals. Reach out to career counselors or key networks in your vocation and understand the real-world situation in addition to browsing the job market.
The grass is not always greener
It’s important to carefully analyse why you are thinking of leaving your job. Is it because you’re not getting along with your manager? Do you feel you’re not being valued? Are you looking for a company with a different purpose? Analysing your desire to leave will assist you with articulating what you’re looking for, and help you decide if it’s truly better elsewhere—or maybe the grass on this side isn’t so bad after all. Be sure to have a longer-term view of your career opportunities and progression. Jumping careers is not always advisable and certainly depends on the reason for the jump. Reach out to trusted mentors in your vocation to get a better picture of what it takes to progress in that area.
Think before you quit
It’s easier to find a new job while you already have a job. Unfortunately, bias is still a real issue where candidates are unfairly judged for being out of work. Also, some employers view employees who are unemployed as a red flag, without taking the time to dive deeper into the reasons why an individual is between opportunities. When you are currently employed and searching for a job, you can appear to be a little harder to get, and therefore more attractive to the prospective employer.
Preparing to job seek
A lot of the hard work in acquiring a new job is done before the interview. Researching prospective organisations is a crucial step in preparing yourself for the recruitment process. In your particular vocation, it is good to know what trends are occurring in that field:
1. Have there been any significant changes in your sector over the last five years?
2. What are the larger organisations in the sector doing (think mergers and acquisitions etc)?
3. Are there any recent legislative changes that will affect the sector?
4. What are the latest innovations affecting the sector?
Once you’re clearer on the sector-wide information, start specifically researching the individual organisations which you are seeking to join:
1. Know who the key personnel are.
2. Understand the organisation’s mission statement and organisational values.
3. Try to access any organisation reports and strategy documents to get a picture of where they are currently at, and an understanding of where they might be headed.
One common mistake that job seekers make is to create a generic resume and use that same resume for every job application. Your job application should specifically address and connect with the relevant job advertisement. According to HR Dive, recruiters spend an average 7.4 seconds reviewing a job application. You need to ensure that the key information they are looking for is readily accessible. Ensure that the minimum requirements for the role (qualifications and experience) are easy to view by using a format that provides this information near the top of the resume. There are many resources online, such as Novoresume, which can assist you. It is also important that the key words referenced in the job advertisement are also found in your resume. Many organisations use automated Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) which automatically scan your resume for desired key words. If you can’t match them, you are less likely to be selected to progress to the next round.
Once you are at the interview stage, a lot of the hard work has been done! You have a clear understanding of the organisation’s mission and values, as well as knowledge of who the key people are. Also, because you have shaped your job application to specifically suit the requirements of the role, you have a better grasp of what they might be looking for. All you need to do now is ace the interview. To adequately prepare for the questions they might ask you, think about your own experiences, both work and personal, and how they might relate to the position. It is quite likely that the interviewers will ask you questions like “tell me about a time when you managed a project to completion; interacted with a difficult co-worker; were faced with a problem you couldn’t solve” etc. Thinking through your work experience or personal/study experiences and thinking of examples that might be relevant in a new role will help you prepare for these types of questions.
So, before you hand in your notice and pull the trigger on your new career path, be sure to stop and think about what is important to you and what it is about your current job that is prompting you to look elsewhere. As it says in Proverbs 15:22, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Seek the guidance of trusted people around you. If you decide to start the job search process after that, be sure to do your research and adequately prepare to maximise your chances of landing your dream job.
Korey Dowling works as VP People and Culture at ADRA International. Originally from Brisbane, in his current role he lives and works in Maryland, United States.