Whether you are a job seeker or delightfully ensconced in your job, prepare to be courted. Planned or not, the chances that you'll change jobs — and even careers — this year are high.
Australia's current unemployment rate is 3.4%, referred to as full employment, and simultaneously, there are record-high job vacancies. The employment arena is a honeypot of opportunity. It is supercharged, highly competitive, and even cutthroat.
As an employee, you’ve never had more leverage and choice.
The dilemma of choice
There are an abundance of job choices, opportunities aplenty, and career aspirations to be realised. Great, you might think. The lure of increased salaries, bonuses, promotions only previously dreamed of, and more. It's refreshing and invigorating. I am sure after the insecurity of the last two years, even a relief.
However, the 'paradox of choice' can be overwhelming and making the wrong decision can be a costly mistake. The stakes are high when it comes to our career, and there are no guarantees. Be discerning, apply due diligence, and implore wise decision-making. To do so, understand your present self and know what you want for your future self.
Your present self
Know what you want and use it as your personal mission statement. Following the COVID-19 lockdowns, the expectations of how, when, and where we work have all changed. If balance and time with your family are important, does accepting the new job or promotion support this, even if the salary increase is significant? Or, are your current needs based on yesterday's world and not today’s opportunities? Work all of this out before the journey of changing jobs. Reevaluating priorities at the eleventh hour of accepting or rejecting offers is a recipe for an impetuous, pressured, and poor decision.
Write down all that is important, not Santa's list or what the collective is mandating, but what is vital to you.
Include intrinsic but crucial aspects: the style of manager, work environment, values, and dealbreakers. This is your roadmap. Our current employment landscape is strewn with prodigious opportunities and obstacles, some hidden, and all is not what it seems. Mirages, illusions, it's all out there, and some of these are of your own making, through frame of reference bias or wishful thinking.
Use your roadmap to keep you on the right path.
Mirage or real?
Employers, quite rightly, are putting their best foot forward. But how to choose? Not to exaggerate, it can be a million-dollar ordeal. A poor decision can set you back many years in lost potential income and career traction, not to mention the loss of self esteem and confidence that are essential for successful careers. And vice versa. The right call can set your future self up for life.
Seeking an environment to support your deeper values? There has never been a more transparent time to check your future employer ‘walks the talk’. Probe, delve, dig deep, ask hardball questions, and uncover. If the company's narrative is an excellent life-work balance, but the expectation is to work overtime and weekends occasionally, then potentially they are not delivering what is promised. If you think this, don't be afraid to ask. Nothing is off topic nowadays. If you feel this, maybe the fit isn’t there after all.
Utilise your network, ask ex-employees, current employees, and any connections. Are their opinions congruent? Always meet with your future manager and peers and ask for examples that demonstrate the values important to you. Are there policies to support what they are saying? Simple questions such as how they have handled the pandemic and lessons learnt highlight or expose values, leadership qualities and more.
Research and more research! If considering startups or new ventures, enquire about funding, team longevity, the quality of the board and the leadership team. Check out their credentials and background as well. At a cursory level, this is easily done through LinkedIn and other social media. Twitter uncovers a lot! For any organisation, always ask about employee turnover, internal promotions, lateral moves, etc. Don't accept generic answers — look for detail and authenticity in the dialogue.
Before you accept any role, does it align with your present self and take you to where you ultimately want to be? Or is it a detour? Detours are OK as long as we recognise them for what they are and are not. Refer back to the roadmap and check if what was important to you is being achieved. Most importantly, ensure the dealbreakers haven’t surreptitiously crept in!
One last word of wisdom from this seasoned recruiter and employer: these golden career and job opportunities are gifts, if you choose to see them that way. These times won’t last forever. Like all gifts, appreciate and treasure them.
Roxanne Calder is the founder and managing director of EST10
The practice of actively seeking, locating, and employing people for a certain position or career in a corporation is known as recruitment.
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