Your Career Changing Jobs
When you feel stuck in a rut and have started to dread each day of work, a change of job seems to be the most obvious answer. The grass looks greener. But is it?
Here are some handy areas for consideration:
- Before You Start Looking
- Accepting a New Job
- Handing in Your Notice
- Help! I’ve Been Made a Counter-offer
It’s important to ask yourself the following questions when making a career move.
What do I want to change?
Be clear with yourself about why you want to leave so that you don't jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. In the many years we’ve been working in recruitment, these are the most common reasons that people look to move:
- The Role - Perhaps the work you are doing is not utilising the extent of your skill set, or you've been there too long and you're bored.
- Salary - You feel undervalued and/or underpaid
- At Risk - Reorganisation and restructuring may have changed your role, or put it at risk
- Career Development - You're making no progress and see no potential paths to promotion
- Relationships - You don't get on with your co-workers or your manager
- New Challenge - A general need for change, some people need change in their lives more than others
- Relocation - You either need to or would like to relocate (see Relocation – Things to think about, below)
- Work Life Balance - You work long hours and need to reduce them, your commute is too long, your family situation may have changed and you need more flexibility
Would I start again?
Depending on what it is you want to change, you may need to start from the bottom or retrain. Starting from square one again is a big deal. Are you prepared for what might come with that, such as lack of status and/or less money?
What do I need to earn?
This is incredibly important. Are you prepared, or even able, to accept a drop in your salary to achieve your goal? Consider your current finances in detail. Get a very clear idea of exactly how much money you need to cover your existing commitments. Consider your current benefits package carefully (if you have one). For example a reduction or increase in pension contribution could have a significant impact on your take home pay.
Will I regret it if I don’t?
There’s an old saying that you only regret what you didn’t do. Think forward two, five or ten years. Will you regret not having made the change?
Before You Start Looking
Am I taking a good job or just running away from a bad one?
During the downturn, many people put their heads down and got on with it in jobs they didn’t like because they felt lucky to have a job. The market has changed and companies are hiring again with vacancy numbers at an all-time high.
But don’t make the mistake of accepting the first offer you get – unless, of course, you’re really sure. Try to make an informed decision. You need to objectively consider why the offer is good, and don’t just focus on the fact it’s a different job because that isn’t all that matters.
This is one of the key benefits of working with a recruitment consultant. We have wider market knowledge and we’re experienced in supporting people through these sorts of decisions. We can help you look at the options objectively and make an informed decision.
It’s in our best interests to get you a job that you’ll love and you’ll ultimately stay in. Our reputation is built on this fact, so you can trust that our advice will always be unbiased.
How much do I know about what I will be getting myself into?
Let’s face it: receiving a job offer is incredibly flattering. Employers will obviously focus on the positives when they’re trying to recruit you and it can be easy to get caught up in it. It’s probably likely that the grass IS greener on the other side, but don’t let that stop you doing your homework. Spend some time researching the company on the internet and asking around your own network.
But above all, discuss this in detail with the consultant you’re working with. This is the perfect opportunity to make good use of their market knowledge. Don’t be shy about asking for clarification or more information if you have questions.
Is the salary on offer a fair reflection of what I’m worth?
This can be the most difficult part of evaluating an offer from a prospective employer, and if you feel largely underpaid in your current role you may be tempted to jump at an increase, no matter how big or small it may be. Alternatively, you could also have a salary that’s above market rate in your current role without even realising it. Basically, your current salary is probably not the best benchmark.
Ask your consultant about market rates. We talk salaries all day every day, so we know exactly what the market averages are off the top of our heads. On top of that, we also have access to salary surveys.
Something people often don’t realise is that if you go into a new role at the very top end of the salary banding offered, it doesn’t leave you much room for an increase at your first appraisal. If you’ve made a huge impact in your new role, you’ll want to be rewarded for that.
Accepting a New Job
Is there a benefits package?
Salary matters. A lot. But don’t forget there are other things to consider.
When changing employer, things you have taken for granted - like the pension contributions you earn - may change and have an impact on your income.
- Bonuses – when changing sector, this is something that’s most likely to be different. It’s unusual to get bonuses in public sector for example. Bonuses vary greatly between financial services sectors particularly since the downturn.
- Start-ups - joining a start-up may mean you don’t get a bonus or comprehensive benefits package straight away, but it’s worth considering what other things you may get access to when joining a start-up. Maybe you can get equity or shares. Imagine if the start-up you joined became the next Microsoft?
- Holidays – typically holiday allowances in public sector are more generous than the private sector. However, the banking sector has bank holidays. Also, will you be entitled to more holidays as your length of service increases?
- Flexible Working – if the reason you have sought out this new role is to achieve a better work life balance, it’s near on impossible to put a monetary value on the benefit that Flexible Working can offer. If your employer offers you options in this space, remember this: it may not fatten your wallet, but it will definitely make you a happier person.
Is there room for me to grow?
When it comes down to it, only one person is responsible for your career: you. But you need to be in an environment where you can get access to the development opportunities you need. What is your prospective new employer offering you in the way of development? Formal training, study support, financial assistance with additional education?
Try and think strategically and long term when comparing opportunities you may have on the table. A clearly defined career path is important; it’s not all about the money.
What am I worried about?
As unwise as it is to leave a job for the wrong reasons, sometimes, particularly if you have been with an employer for a long time, it can be daunting to commit to a new role and sign on the dotted line.
The bottom line is that changing jobs always carries some degree of risk. But if you’ve analysed the situation and your intuition is saying yes, trust it!
Relocating is a huge decision and could have a considerable impact on you and your family, both positive and negative. How serious are you about this? How much have you thought it through?
Our consultants have lots of experience supporting candidates through this process and we’ll always be on hand to advise you. Whether you’re relocating alone or with your family, we think it’s important you consider the following things:
Do you have a specific location in mind?
If so, do you know much about it? Do you have ties to it? You’d be surprised how many people consider relocating to a city or country they’ve never visited before. If you haven’t visited, make a point of doing so.
Do you have a family to move?
If so, how committed are THEY to this decision? Relocating family is no small task and you need to consider things like how easy will it be for your partner to get work? What are the schools like? How much disruption could moving cause in your children’s lives? If they’re old enough, they could be sitting exams. If you're successful in securing a role, how soon do they need you to start? Are you prepared for the idea that you may have to move ahead of your family to get started while they make arrangements to follow?
Do the companies you’re interviewing with offer relocation assistance?
Relocating can be a costly exercise, when you think about things like moving costs and legal fees involved with selling your house. You may need to get temporary accommodation when you first arrive before you find a permanent place to live – how much could that cost?
Do you know the difference in the market?
Market rate salaries can vary hugely depending on location. For example, salaries in London are typically 20% higher than the rest of the country. In Scotland salaries can differ greatly between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, but often, so does the cost of living so a direct comparison is often hard to make.
Everyone has had a job where they have wanted to march into their boss’ office and resign by telling them exactly what they really think. But before you go burning your bridges, have a think about the bigger picture.
Don’t get emotional. Think about what you want to say beforehand and stay positive. If you love your job but you have personal reasons for leaving, be honest. If you hate your job, simply explain that it’s not the role for you and wish them well.
Write a Resignation Letter
This is important. It needs to be in writing. No matter how well you get on with your boss, even if you have a nice chat about it, you will still need to put it in writing. Keep it simple, don’t waffle and most importantly don’t be negative. And remember the date!
Handing in Your Notice
Why shouldn’t you tell them what you REALLY think?
What’s it really going to achieve? You’re leaving now anyway and soon it will all be a thing of the past. In the meantime though, you need a reference for your new employer and you also have a reputation to uphold.
Negotiating your notice period
It’s usual to have a notice period that you’ll need to work following your resignation. Depending on your contract it could be anything from 2 to 12 weeks. During this time you need to keep working and manage a handover to your colleagues. Sometimes it’s possible to negotiate a shorter notice period which may mean you can start your new role earlier or get an impromptu holiday in, so it’s usually worth asking the question. This is another reason why you don’t want to use any choice words when delivering your resignation. It can make working your notice period extremely uncomfortable and negotiating a long notice period down impossible.
On rare occasions, your boss or colleagues will not respond well to the news you have decided to leave and things may become difficult. There’s no magic answer in this situation unfortunately, but the best thing you can do is maintain your professionalism at all times. Remember: there’s a light at the end of the tunnel now. Focus on it.
How much notice must I legally give?
If you've been employed for one month or more, the minimum notice period required by law is one week. However, it's likely your employment contract will include notice in its terms, so check whether you should be giving longer. If your contract doesn’t state a notice period you should still be giving reasonable notice.
Do I have a right to be paid if I leave without notice?
No. If you don’t give the right notice, you are in breach of your employment contract. If you want to change your notice period you should discuss this with your employer in advance.
Am I entitled to normal pay during my notice period?
Yes, you’re normally entitled to your contractual pay and benefits during your notice period.
What is gardening leave?
Your employer might ask you take gardening leave when you resign which means you'll have to stay away from work during your notice period. Gardening leave is normally used to prevent an employee taking sensitive information about the company to a new job with a competitor. You still have contractual duties (e.g. confidentiality) until the end of your notice, and you can be brought back to work if needed. You’re entitled to your normal pay and any company benefits.
Help! I’ve Been Made a Counter-offer
In almost all cases, don’t accept. Statistically, 80% of people who accept a counter offer will be back on the market within six months. It’s a proven fact.
When you think about the reasons you have for moving, you have to really ask yourself: how is it that your employer has managed to address these issues now? We’ve covered the typical counter offer scenarios below, so take a look.
If your employer has offered you an increased salary, you have to ask yourself: why did it take me resigning to get the money I deserve? Also, what does this mean at the next salary review? Will you now not get one?
If your employer promises you a promotion to stay, it’s an empty gesture unless it’s in writing. If they didn’t think you were worthy of the promotion before, why do they now?
Relationships with others in the business
It’s highly likely you have tried to address this before being driven to look for a new job. A promise that this will be fixed is dubious at best.
This is quite open to interpretation and only you will know if the 'new challenges' being offered are realistic and likely to materialise. Beware of old challenges being repackaged as 'new'.
Can the changes you require in your working environment or conditions be implemented long term or could this possibly slip when you have turned down the offer? If the culture of the business is to work long hours and not work from home, how will it look for you to get preferential treatment and how will that affect your relationships with your colleagues?
Ultimately changing jobs is always stressful and involves moving into a new environment that may be out of your comfort zone. However, remember how much time and hard work you have put into securing this new role and try not to lose sight of why you were prepared to commit to that process. A counter offer can be flattering, but bear in mind your employer may now view you as disloyal even if you stay so things may not be the same.