As much as we enjoy vacations, social events and smashed avocado brunches, most of us spend the majority of our time at work. We see our colleagues more than our extended family, each lunch in the company cafeteria more than at home, and know more details about our boss’ dog than our own, long-suffering poodle.
That being the case, it’s absolutely essential to find a job that is fulfilling, suits your lifestyle and properly compensates you for your time. You may be working in a job in order to climb the corporate ladder, make a difference in the world or to simply pay the bills, and it’s important to know what most drives your need to work as you determine if a job is right for you.
According to The Balance Careers, the average man or woman changes jobs up to 15 times throughout their career, meaning that the days of spending 20 years at the same desk are long gone. So what do the stats tells us about why we’re moving around? Job search site Seek claims that 33% of Australians move into new positions because they’re looking to move forward in their careers, but that’s not the only motivating factor. Other common reasons we’re changing jobs are:
- We’re looking for a new challenge
- We’re interested in better pay and benefits
- We’re experiencing negativity
- We feel overworked
- We don't feel secure
- We feel bored
- We’re forced to leave our current position due to redundancy, a change of living circumstances or illness
Career experts don’t always agree on how long an employee should stay at a company, and there are plenty of factors to consider, such as career growth opportunities, company culture and flexibility. Some suggest that while we’re in our twenties it’s more acceptable to move around, but as we move into more senior roles the expectation is that we’ll stay for several years.
So how does the current job market and demand compare to the conditions 20 years ago? The first graph below outlines the most common jobs by industry in 1989, while the second graph shows the changes that have occurred over time and what this looks like in 2017. While manufacturing and retail held the top spots in 1989, in 2017 health and retail are more dominant.
These results illustrate the changes that have occurred over time, as Australians have become more educated, and society has moved away from a goods economy to a service economy. Perhaps surprisingly, however, the construction industry is still going strong, partially due to the housing boom of the last few years. As technology changes the way we interact with the world, so to do the jobs that are created and the position opportunities we have access to.
The Job Search
One of the many reasons people stay in miserable jobs is the confusing, difficult, discouraging process of The Job Search. Sure, the comfort of routine, job security, the fear of losing the time invested all play a role, but overestimating the frustratingly tedious act of searching, applying and interviewing for a position is for many people, a difficult thing to do. Perhaps you have experience:
- Searching with multiple different keywords and still being presented with irrelevant search results
- Being unsure of which job search platform is the most effective
- Spending hours responding to selection criteria for each position
- Waiting for call-backs that never come, even for jobs you feel very qualified to do
- Questioning your decision to complete an Arts degree
Should I stay or should I go?
Making the decision to leave your company is not one that should be taken lightly, particularly if you don’t have another job lined up, however staying in a job that makes you miserable is never a good option, either. If your company has a negative culture, you feel undervalued, have a poor work/life balance or don’t feel passionate about what you do, it might be time to move on. When assessing your current job or a new position you might be starting, consider the following before making any rash decisions:
1. Am I being too negative?
Is your workplace really all that bad, or are you only seeing the negative parts of it? Think about your expectations and whether or not they’re reasonable, and if other companies would be better.
2. Is my package fair?
If your primary concern is salary, do some research into other roles before making any decisions. If your current pay is below average, talk to your boss about a possible pay increase. If, on the other hand, you feel you’re being paid well, consider whether changing jobs is the right move.
3. Do the hours suit my lifestyle?
If you have a flexible working arrangement, work part-time or have hours that suit your lifestyle, think about how important this aspect of your job is. Will it be easy to find similar conditions elsewhere?
4. Am I passionate about what I do?
For most people, passion is a vital part of feeling inspired to go to work every day. Find a place that inspires you and what you do, won’t, at least for the most part, feel like work.
5. Do I feel like I’m progressing at work?
Feeling like you have a future at your company makes staying at a job much easier. If there are no opportunities or you don't feel valued, it might be time to reconsider your position.
6. Do I feel passionate about what I do?
Although some people view work as just a way to pay the bills, many others need to feel a sense of passion for what they do. It can be difficult to go to a job every day if you don’t enjoy at least some element of what you do, so think about whether the bureaucracy, politics and dull tasks are outweighed by the positive elements of what you do.
7. Do I feel valued?
Feeling valued is a significant part of job satisfaction, whether it’s as a nurse helping patients, a pilot landing a plane or a retail manager helping someone find the perfect hat. Value can come from external sources like customers, but it should also be coming from colleagues, the executive team and anyone else you work with and for.
8. Do I feel my contribution at work is meaningful?
If you’re spending all day playing Solitaire at a company that doesn’t really need you, you probably feel like your absence would barely be noticed. Knowing that the tasks you’re completing make a real contribution to even the smallest projects can go a long way to achieving job satisfaction.
9. Am I still learning at work?
In order to stay engaged, we must keep learning and feel challenged at work. There is always a new skill, program or method we can adopt, so be sure your company is willing to let you grow, whether in your current position or through exploring other options internally. If not, it might be time to spread your wings and fly elsewhere.
10. Is my current position helping me get where I want to be professionally?
It’s fine to start your career or at a company in a position that isn’t something you see yourself doing long-term, but after several years, it’s important to feel that what you’re doing is helping you get to where you want to be. If your job is totally unrelated to your professional goals, it might be time to reevaluate.
How to determine if a job is right for you
Step 1: Decide what it is you need out of a job. Some examples include growth and promotion opportunities, an above average pay package, a flexible working arrangement or a challenging and fulfilling position.
Step 2: Determine whether it fits into your lifestyle, by considering factors such as the office location, the travel expectations of the position, the level of job security and the time commitment required.
Step 3: Ask yourself, does the organisation stand for something you’re passionate about?
Step 4: Be sure you’re ready to leave your current workplace. Going to work is a large part of most people’s routines, and as creatures of habit we tend to find comfort in doing things the way we’ve always done them. Even if your job is dull, at least you know exactly what your role is and have the security of a regular pay check. Think about this before making a decision.
Of course, finding new employment doesn’t necessarily mean taking a risk, but according to Whitney Johnson, the key to fulfillment at work is feeling challenged:
"Building morale and high performance are about engagement, and engagement is all about learning, argues Whitney Johnson. In over twenty years of research, investing, consulting, and coaching, Johnson has seen that people need continuous learning and fresh challenges to stay engaged.
We all want opportunities to learn, experiment, and grow in our jobs. The best bosses know this, and they know how to make it happen through thoughtful role design and just enough challenge. The result is a team that learns how to thrive, no matter what the industry throws at them."
For most of us, resigning from a job is a terrifying prospect. Even if you have a reasonable, nice and supportive boss, it’s an unpleasant conversation to have. Before you make any rash decisions or say something you can’t take back, consider the following:
- Be sure it’s the right time to resign. Not having a job lined up, a bad job market or breaking your contract are just some of the factors that should make you think twice about your timing.
- Remember that you may need a reference from the company and that it’s a small world. You never know who you might end up working with again!
- Check your contract before speaking to your boss, to ensure you understand the expectations the company has. Making your intention to leave clear without actually being able to leave would be more than a little embarrassing.
- Make a plan for what you’re going to do next, even if you want to take some time off. Create a budget, get your resume in order and start reaching out to any relevant connections.
What to do once you’ve resigned:
- If you’ve resigned verbally, follow-up with a formal letter.
- Clean out your desk and leave it in a clean and neat state.
- Clean up your computer to ensure your desktop is clear, your old files are deleted and make sure you don't leave anything personal behind.
- Give your manager and colleagues plenty of notice, particularly if you’re working on a major project or if there is an extended hand-over process.
- Offer to help with the impending transition.
- Write a hand-over document for your team, and update it on your final day at the company.
- Brief your colleagues on important information that might help them in your absence.
- Avoid bad-mouthing the company even if you’re leaving on bad terms. You may need a reference in the future, not to mention it’s poor form and may make you look bad to your new employer.
- Continue to work as you did before you resigned. You may be leaving but make sure you do so on a high note.
- Offer constructive feedback, particularly if you’re given the opportunity to have an exit interview.
Although most of us only update our resumes when we’re looking for a new job, a resume is a document that should be updated on a regular basis. Any time you learn a new skill, undertake training, become familiar with a new system or land a new account you should be adding the details to your resume, so that when the time comes to send it out, you’ll be prepared and won’t forget any key information. Your dream job also isn’t likely to be waiting for you right after you’ve decided to leave your current position, so having it always updated means when an interesting position arises, you’ll be ready to go. For some resume templates to get you started, visit Skill Crush.
The Truth, The Whole Truth, or...Close Enough
Allow me to set the scene. You’ve gone through the painstaking process of deciding it’s time to leave your current company, spent hours searching for the right job, and decide to apply for a position. You read the job ad and notice there are a few required skills you don’t have, but you’re sure you could learn them on the job or that they’re really not that important. Your enthusiasm gets the better of you and you tell one or two lies to give yourself a competitive edge. Where’s the harm in that?
As tempting as exaggerating your experience or expertise may be, there can be greater consequences down the track. If you truly don’t know how to use a particular system, this will become very clear to your new employer very quickly, and they may feel frustrated, mislead and annoyed they need to spend time on something they hadn’t anticipated. You’ve now started your new job off on the wrong foot, and the team now question your honesty and integrity. Instead, be honest but highlight the ways in which the experience you have puts you in a great position to quickly and easily learn the processes used by the company. Once you get to the interview stage, you can elaborate further and explain in more detail.
Writing a cover letter is seen by many as an unnecessary part of the job application process. Your resume already describes your experience and your interview will allow you to elaborate, so why should more time be spent explaining what you already have or will cover?
While that may be partially true, there are several reasons cover letters are different to resumes and selection criteria responses, and are an essential part to most applications. A cover letter:
- Shows your personality.
- Allows you to state your intentions plainly.
- Personalises your application. While your resume will be the same for every job application, your cover letter will change from role to role.
- Gives you an opportunity to show how you write, and tells the hiring manager that you are able to be succinct, clear and know how to spell!
- Allows you to explain any gaps in your work history, including maternity leave, illness or extended time off, and give reasons for any lack of experience. It’s also a chance to address any qualities the job description has outlined that you don’t have, and show the hiring manager why you are well placed to learn these skills or how your experience is actually relevant.
Always make sure you include:
- Your previous job experience
- A summary of your skills
- Why you’re suited for the job
A Simple Cover Letter Template
Your contact details
Company contact details
Company contact (if you have this information)
State your intentions
Briefly outline why you are interested in the position
Outline some of your key strengths
Explain what your previous experience has taught you and detail the skills, programs, software etc. you’ve obtained throughout your career. If relevant, outline your formal education and qualifications
Link your experience and skills to the position
Summarise your key experience
State why you are the right person for the job
Express interest in receiving a follow-up call or interview
Perhaps the most painful part of the job application process is addressing the selection criteria. You’ve just updated your resume, composed your cover letter and now you have address selection criteria, too? It never ends! Here are three tips to get you started:
- Study each question thoroughly to understand exactly what it’s asking. Don’t just answer the question but try to get to the core of what is actually being asked.
- Use examples when making statements to show your real world experience.
- Keep your answers within the word limit and avoid getting off track.
Interviews can be stressful and scary, but with the right preparation, you should feel confident, calm and ready to impress. Aside from the usual strategies for getting organised and being prepared, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Do your research about the company
It sounds obvious, but a surprising number of people go into interviews without fully understanding what it is their prospective employer does. Understanding what the company does, who its competitors are, and how it runs is essential.
- Understand the role
Along with knowing what the company does, understanding how the role you’re applying for fits into the company’s operations will put you in a better position to explain how your experience and skills make you a great fit.
- Think about how your experience makes you qualified for the job
The previous experience you talk about in the interview should be relevant, and you should use specific examples wherever possible.
- Practice answering the questions you anticipate
Common interview questions might include asking about your experience, how you deal with conflict, what strategies you use to solve problems and why you’re the best fit for the job. Practice your answers and be prepared to use examples. Check out this list of the 5 most common job interview questions, and this guide on how to nail 50 questions that might be thrown your way.
- Plan what you’re going to wear and map out your route to the interview office
It might sound silly, but planning your outfit and mapping out your journey will mean that on the big day, you won’t have to waste time making potentially stressful decisions. Being late is never a good look, so plan your route with traffic conditions in mind, too.
Once you’ve nailed your interview and received a job offer, it’s time to accept the position! Although many jobs come with a salary range, don’t be afraid to negotiate your package. A few tips to get you started:
- Research what the standard salary for this type of position is so you have a sense of what’s reasonable.
- Think about the whole package, not just the salary. The annual salary may not be as high as you’d like, but perhaps the package includes extra leave time or other enticing benefits.
- Determine a range you’re comfortable with before you start negotiating. If you’re unsure, you may get overwhelmed and confused during the discussion, and accept something you later regret.
- Every company is different, but typically 10-20% is considered a reasonable increase to request.
- Be ready to turn down an offer if the package isn’t what you’re looking for. If you take a job that doesn’t pay what you feel you deserve, you’ll end up feeling resentful and potentially leaving soon after you start.
- Be reasonable and flexible. It’s great to value your skills and time, but if you ask for an unreasonable amount of money you’ll find it difficult to get a job.
- Wait for your prospective employer to make the first offer.
- Be confident and don’t change your message mid-way through negotiations.
Networking is an important part of building professional relationships, making connections and gaining customers and partners. Linkedin has become an integral part of the networking process, so knowing how to best use it can really give you a competitive edge. To get the most out of Linkedin:
- Outline your professional experience in detail.
- Upload a professional image of yourself.
- Detail your professional goals.
- Write a headline that represents who you are, what you do and what you’re passionate about.
- Add relevant keywords to your profile.
- Add your professional skills.
- Connect with your colleagues, professional contacts and people within your industry.
- Join relevant professional groups.
- Publish a post on a topic that interests you, and ask for advice.
- Follow companies you’d like to know more about.
- Search for jobs.
The Prospective Employer
New Starters and Induction
Fantastic news! You’ve finally found the right person for your new position, and they’re starting work next week. New starters have a unique type of enthusiasm that often spreads throughout a team, so take advantage of this time by ensuring the employee is welcomed, properly inducted, and given the freedom to make suggestions on how to make operations run more smoothly. Once employees settle into their roles, they accept things as they are, but new starters have an invaluable outsider perspective that should be harnessed. Make sure to:
- Plan the induction
We’ve all experienced a first day that was disorganised, dull and uninspired. Your email account isn’t set up, you have no real work to do and you’re handed a pile of policy papers to read, leaving you feeling disappointed about your first day. Instead, have a full day planned for your new employee, even if it’s packed with a couple of introductory meetings, a lunch, some preliminary work and some brainstorming.
- Discuss the new starter’s position with the team
Make sure the team knows there is somebody new coming on board and how their roles will be impacted by them, particularly if this person is coming into a management position. Answer any questions and manage expectations.
- Welcome the new starter with a meeting or lunch
If possible, welcome the new employee to the team with an introductory meeting or a team lunch, or at least a quick jaunt to the local coffee spot. It’ll cost you an hour, but will make a huge difference to your new hire.
- Set up a desk in advance
Having a clean desk with a working computer and a few supplies is a great way to welcome a new member of the team. Do your best to have their email account set up and most of their access ready to go, so they can hit the ground running. Jason L has a range of furniture for any office, which will make customising the space a dream. Check out a sample of our range below:
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1. Build your Job Application Skills
JobSearch - Australian Government
2. How Often Do People Change Jobs?
The Balance Careers
3. 9 essential questions to ask your interviewer
4. New Research Reveals the Real Reason People Switch Jobs (and It isn't Money or Their Boss)
Linkedin Talent Blog
5. Getting a Job: A Study of Contacts and Careers
6. Australians landed almost 1 million new jobs in five years - so what kind of jobs are they and is that a big deal?
7. How often should you change jobs?
8. Common interview questions and how to answer them
9. How To Ace The 50 Most Common Interview Questions
10. To Whom It May Concern: 12 Cover Letter Rules You Must Follow
11. The Ultimate Guide to Cover Letters
12. Build an A-Team: Play to Their Strengths and Lead Them Up the Learning Curve