Whether out of frustration at their current role, a desire to faster career progression or simply for a change, there comes a time in almost every professional's life when they decide to look for a new job. In many cases, individuals will be constantly looking for the next opportunity - a chance to develop new skills, gain experience and increase their earning capacity.
Research suggests that up to four-fifths of the UK workforce may be looking for a new job at any one time - whether actively or casually. One study, conducted by Robert Half, indicates that 36 per cent are 'actively' seeking a new role - spending time working on their CV, identifying roles they are interested in and pouring energy into the application and interview process.
Why look for a new job?
There are many different reasons why people look for new jobs, aside from seeking a change or the opportunity to progress and earn more. In many cases, professionals simply stay in their jobs for too long, allowing boredom and frustration to set in. They may feel undervalued in the workplace, or feel that restructuring and reorganisation has changed their role into something they are no longer comfortable with.
For whatever reason, a professional may just not be interested in their work anymore, making it difficult for them to give 100 per cent effort each day. Equally, they may feel as if they are stuck in a rut and making no progress, and are too young to simply wait for retirement. Other potential reasons for leaving a job may be conflict in the workplace, not getting on with management, or having a change of circumstances at home.
Having decided to look for a new job, a key question to ask is whether a small change will suffice, or you need a radical departure from what you are doing. In many cases, finding a job in the same sector, or switching from public to private may offer the change you need. Potentially moving from permanent to temporary or part-time employment - particularly if you are at consultant level - could be beneficial, giving you more control over your professional life.
Preparing for a career change
If you are looking to change careers, it is vitally important to apply for jobs you have a realistic chance of getting. For instance, if you have been working as an accountant, there is little point applying to be an astronaut. You need to think about your transferable skills and capabilities, and decide whether you want to utilise these or go off and learn something new from scratch. If so, it may be necessary to go back into training first - potentially at night school while you continue in your current role.
Ideally, you should be looking to be doing something that interests you. Changing careers offers a great opportunity to better your professional life, but it can be a big move and you need to make sure you are not making a decision on a whim. Simply moving for more money may not deliver the extra job satisfaction you are looking for.
How to find a new job
Knowing how to find and identify appropriate jobs is all part of the process - you need to do more than simply look through the job boards. A real commitment to jobseeking is necessary, and this means spending hours researching roles and filling in application forms if needs be. If you are continuing to work while you hunt for a new job, you probably need to set time aside each day for your search.
As you look through the available jobs, look for those which match your priorities, talents and experience. This gives you the greatest possible chance of getting selected for interview, and also securing a job you are happy to be working in for the long term. New roles could be advertised in a variety of places, including internet job boards, company websites, recruitment agencies and social media.
It makes sense to assess how in-demand your skills are, based on current job openings and the availability of people with your experience. Speaking with a recruitment consultant who specialises in your industry may help in this sense - they should be able to provide you with information on the level of competition in the market at present. This should give you some indication as to the likelihood of you making a successful application.
Having a strong CV is likely to be important, and this should always be tailored to the role you are applying for. The document should have a professional appearance and convey measurable successes and quantifiable return on investment for the potential employer. Always make sure you consider key words in your CV as many screening tools will look for terminology that matches the job description. Tailoring each CV and cover letter to the job at hand will not only demonstrate your interest and suitability for the role, it will also help your application rise to the top of the list.
Equally, jobseekers need to make a good impression at interview by showing they have done their research on the organisation in question. It always makes sense to request company literature and locate industry-related articles on the internet ahead of your interview - this could potentially give you the edge you need. Spending some time practising your answers to common interview questions makes sense too, ensuring all the salient information comes out. Consider asking a friend or family member to role play with you, or at the very least try filming yourself to see if you convey any non-verbal cues in your demeanour.
Changing careers can be good for your professional development, your bank balance and your state of mind. But it is important to have a clear idea of what you are looking for in a new role, and then form a strategy for impressing potential employers - through your application and at interview. This requires proper preparation, and also a fair amount of perseverance at times. But with a little luck, it could bring about the change you have been looking for.