Do you sometimes wish you could switch careers? Talent acquisition software company iCIMS conducted a survey of 400 full-time employees in the U.S. The survey showed that “63% of full-time employees are looking for a new job.” This could be, in part, because only 40% of workers are satisfied with their jobs, according to a survey by staffing company Spherion.
To get some insight on what these new job seekers should focus on in their search, we chatted with Quicken Loans Recruiting leaders to get the inside scoop on how to begin a career search this new year and what companies look for in job applicants. Patti Zajdel, vice president of Quicken Loans Recruiting, encourages job candidates to be proactive in their job search during the beginning of the year. “Many companies hire during this time so when the new year starts they have their candidates to look at for their upcoming full time positions,” she says.
Where Do You Want to End Up?
Before deciding to switch careers, make sure you’ve explored why you’re intent on a new job. If you’ve decided to leave your current position because it doesn’t line up with your interests, explore opportunities that align with those interests. From there, develop a plan to determine how you’ll get to where you want to be. This plan should include an analysis of what you’re looking for in your next position.
“A common mistake people make is thinking they would like to change careers or industries without having any knowledge into where they want to go. They just ‘feel’ or ‘think’ it would be something they want to do,” explains Ryan Sobieski, director of Quicken Loans Recruiting. Taking the time to look at your own expectations for a new career and to outline a plan for yourself could pay off in the long run.
Research the Possibilities … and Perks
Is there a need for the career path and position you’re seeking? Are companies hiring people for that job? Keep these questions in mind as you search for your ideal job opening. Check sites like Simply Hired, Indeed or ZipRecruiter to see what positions companies have open.
If you’re interested in a specific industry or company, don’t hesitate to go directly to a company’s internal job postings, rather than relying solely on external job posting sites. For example, if you’re interested in the health care industry, check hospital websites for open positions, as not all companies advertise on job posting sites.
As you go deeper into your job search, factor in other benefits that you want from a new position. If you’d rather not be without your dog, search for job openings at pet-friendly workplaces. If you need convenient child care, look for companies with day care centers or subsidies. Need to hit the gym or stretch out your stress with a yoga class? Look for a career with a company that offers gym membership discounts.
Discounts and perks are great, but be sure to account for your life outside of work, too. According to Spherion’s Workforce Newsletter, job search site Indeed performed an independent survey of 4,000 people who were searching for jobs and found that “after competitive pay and benefits, top performers cited work/life balance as their primary incentive for choosing a job.” If you’re looking for a more flexible work/life balance, look for a position that offers flex hours and paid time off.
Update Your Résumé
So you’ve done some searching and found a position – or a few positions! – that you’re interested in. Now, it’s time to polish up your résumé.
First, figure out how your current skills could be used in each position you’re applying for. Be sure to feature those so that the hiring employer can see why you’d be a great fit for the open position. According to Zajdel, building a unique résumé that includes skills relevant to each position will help you stand out as a candidate.
Identifying your applicable skills helps to gear your résumé toward specific positions, but you should still have a strategy for organizing your résumé thoughtfully. This helps hiring employers zero in on those skills you’ve already identified that make you a great fit for the role, and a résumé that’s easy to read can get you that much closer to landing the job. Check out this Forbes Coaches Council article for an in-depth look at building a résumé strategy.
Once you have your new résumé complete, ask others to proofread it for errors and clarity. You don’t want to miss out on a great career opportunity because of a typo!
It’s time to take that polished résumé and put it to work. Send in your applications and résumé, and make sure to follow up. For senior-level roles, Sobieski says, “I always recommend a quick phone call. Be professional and help the employer understand (briefly) why you think you can add value and express interest in the role!” He recommends sticking to just one follow-up call, as anything more could be seen as annoying to the employer.
When it comes time to interview, be sure that you’ve done your research on the company so that you can engage in conversation with your interviewers and articulate your understanding of how your position would align with the company. Have a thorough understanding of what your role would accomplish and be responsible for, and know your career objectives.
To cultivate your interview skills, practice answering common questions. The Wall Street Journal recommends, “Write out answers to the questions you don’t want to be asked. It will help alleviate your anxiety.” And in case you’re faced with the often-feared question “What is your greatest weakness?” Zajdel recommends taking the time to think through what you’d bring to the table if you’re given the position. “Know yourself, your strengths and areas of opportunity. Have the ability to articulate it in a positive way.”
Don’t Get Discouraged
Searching for a job takes work. Be prepared to put in the time to develop a quality résumé, and be sure to congratulate yourself for making it to an interview. If you don’t land the first job you apply for – or the second or third – stay positive and remain open to other opportunities that may come your way.
Try to avoid jumping into a new career if it’s not right for you. If you decide after interviewing that the company culture isn’t right for you or that some other aspect doesn’t sit well, consider your decision carefully, as settling isn’t necessarily always the best option.
If you’re looking to switch careers, be sure to check out what positions Quicken Loans has open. What advice do you have for those looking to switch careers right now? Let us know in the comments!
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