If you've been marking time at work and hoping to change your career or job, you're not alone. Employment experts caution, though, that moving too quickly to change your job could land you in a position that you dislike even more. Here are some ways to improve the odds that when you make a career change or just move to a new job, you wind up in a situation that will help you for the long run:
Think about why you're dissatisfied at your current job. If you aren't challenged enough, there might be a way to get ahead without changing jobs. "There may be ways that your job can be changed or your role in the company expanded to offer more challenges," says Tony Mulkern, a management consultant in Los Angeles. Search for job openings in other departments or at higher levels that you may qualify for with some additional education or skills, and ask your manager to support your effort to get the training you need.
If you have trouble finding new opportunities or just want to change your career no matter what, use your networking skills to find out which companies and industries are hiring. Many job postings go up with a candidate in mind already, if you know someone at the companies you want to work for-or someone in your network does-try to get a good referral for your application.
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But be discreet – keep requests off social-networking websites like Facebook and Linkedin, as they can be indexed by search engines and discovered by anyone, including your current boss.
When you land a job interview, use the opportunity to learn about the company. You should get as much from them as they will try to get from you, says Sharon Armstrong, a human-resources consultant in Washington. Negotiating salary and benefits is important, but so is finding a good company to work for. It's difficult to tell what the workplace culture is like from casual visits. Don't be shy about calling for more information and contact current and former employees, if possible, to get a feel for the company and opportunities.
If you get a job offer, before you accept consider doing more in-depth financial research on the company. Try The Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR Public Dissemination Service. For private firms and startups, Gail Rosen, an accountant in Martinsville N.J., says to look for a profit-and-loss statement, a balance sheet, references, a business plan and a list of where the company is getting funding.
"You may not get that all but it doesn't hurt to ask, and they might at least give you something else you can use," she says. Some information also can be found on fee services like Hoovers or on business blogs.
Whatever you do, don't quit your job until you're certain you're hired, says Ms. Armstrong. "Even if a job offer seems imminent, there are a lot of things that can happen at the last minute."
- Re-evaluate the situation
- Reach out
- Do your homework
- Leap carefully
If your current company wants to keep you and makes you a counteroffer to stay, keep in mind why you're leaving. "People seldom move just for money, so don't be swayed by a bigger paycheck if everything else stays the same," says Ms. Armstrong. "Job satisfaction comes from a lot of different places. If the boss offers to help change the other things that are making you unhappy, that might be worth at least discussing." With these tips in mind, making a career change and starting at a new job can be a rewarding experience, and you'll never look back.