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How to Navigate a Job Change

If your expectations about what you want in a career and an employer are changing, you’re not alone. Employees are “willing to look and keep looking for a company that’s mission and culture reflect and reinforce their values,” according to Gallup research.

Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” study found 51% of employees are searching for new jobs or watching for openings, while 35% have changed positions in the last three years. Mission and culture are important considerations for job seekers. Other reasons cited in the report include opportunities for career growth, salary and benefits, and leadership.

Is It Time to Make a Change?

“If you are not constantly learning and growing your resume, your network and your confidence … you are putting more into the job than you are getting out of it,” says Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, in Forbes.com.

Ryan says there are five signs that it may be time to seek other opportunities:

  1. Your work projects cause you stress instead of professional growth or satisfaction.
  2. You don’t see opportunities for advancement in spite of your efforts to demonstrate your capabilities.
  3. You do not feel you can be yourself at work, because your real personality would not be liked by your colleagues.
  4. You look forward to weekends, then spend your free time stressed about work.
  5. You dread Mondays.

Does this list describe you? Then it may be to explore your options and determine your next move.

Identify and Research Target Jobs

Think about what you would like to do, and how your skill set fits into such a role. Free tools such as www.mynextmove.org and O*NET OnLine from the U.S. Department of Labor can provide insights into potential career paths and information on skills and knowledge needed.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has job descriptions for thousands of positions, along with information on education requirements and earning potential. Use this information and job postings to determine where you need to invest in skill improvements and experience.

Research industries or companies that complement your current firm that could make use of your skills. You never know what opportunities may arise from companies you do business with.

Figure Out How to Apply Your Skills

Once you’ve chosen a new career, identify your strengths and weaknesses – then address your weaknesses. Do you need to pursue higher education to reach your goals? Online degree programs offer flexible options for workers to earn degrees while keeping their jobs.

Another idea is to tackle a project that develops and showcases the skills you want to market to a new employer, and document the process so you can include it on a resume, wrote employer branding strategist Craig Fisher on the Society for Human Resource Management’s blog. Other interests such as volunteering can count as experience and boost your professional network.

Reach Out to Your Connections

As you are honing your skills and conducting research, don’t neglect a critical area for professional development: networking. One of the simplest ways to network is to stay in contact or reconnect with people you know from school, especially those who pursued or are pursuing similar degree programs.

When you are ready to make a move, reach out to these contacts and other knowledgeable people in the industry, and ask them to evaluate your resume and provide feedback. Ask what stands out, what may give them pause, and what their reaction would be to receiving it in response to a job opening. Consider their feedback carefully and incorporate compelling advice.

Careful planning can mean the difference between a successful career change and another dead-end job. Take your time, make connections and do your research.

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