Several times last week I was asked by people for my thoughts on whether they should be looking for job upgrades.
Spring fever? Coincidence? Low morale across the board?
I don't know the reasons so many are asking so suddenly. I do know it's a difficult time to be on the job market, but it's not an impossible time. Here are some reasons to dust off the resume:
1. You are getting a “bad vibe” at work. If your schedule was suddenly changed to one that's terribly inconvenient and the explanation for it made no sense for you or for the company's productivity, that may be a sign. It's a chicken-crap way of doing business as I believe management should be diplomatically direct with employees, but it could be a sign that things are not going to improve for you.
2. You have been demoted. Careful here. You might have been put back into a role where your skill sets will be put to much better use. If this is the case, hang in there. You might wake up in 30 days and realize you love the job and that you're contributing in a major way. But if you were knocked down for poor performance or the bosses have their eye on another rainmaker, you might be better off with a fresh start.
3. You pitched a promotion and did not get the nod. Careful here, too. Ask your boss for a warts-on appraisal about the decision. You might have been a strong candidate but someone much more ideal might have been available. If you would be comfortable continuing in your current role, by all means stay. Word to the wise here: when the new person starts in the role you pitched, know that he or she likely knows you pitched the job. Make sure you communicate your desire to be on the team and deliver on a promise to help with the transition. You don't want to be the new supervisor's biggest concern. You want to be his or her best asset! If the boss communicated from the beginning of the search, however, that there were concerns about your skills or whether you were ready for this job, you may be able to find a bigger role in another company.
There are some “good” reasons to start a job search, even in this challenging economy:
1. You have mastered that entry level job and there isn't a bigger role for you in your company. If you are mobile and can relocate, share your enthusiasm with hiring decision-makers. Communicate your willingness to relocate if necessary.
2. You know for a fact you're being paid below market value and you see a similar job posted that pays more. Apply! As you would in any job, however, do your homework. Compare apples-to-apples. If you are giving up a 401K match, vacation time or education benefits, you may not be coming out ahead.
3. You had favorable conversations with potential employers late last year or early this year about new positions they'd like to create. These jobs seemed to have your name on them, but the economy did not allow any movement during the first half of the year. I am seeing indications now that in the second half of 2011, there will be some job creation. Reach out and see where they stand.
Never give up and leave a job without another one in your pocket. That old saying your mom had is true. “It's easier to find a job when you have a job,” is correct because while you are working, you're engaging, connecting and networking with others. You are far more likely to hear of new opportunities in a job setting than you are at home surfing the web for opportunities.
Keep in mind, too, that for the unemployed, job searches are taking as long as a year. Once you hit that milestone, you might even be considered “unemployable.”
So if you fall into any of the categories we discussed today and it's “time to go” hang in there on your current job while using your off time to conduct a quiet, well thought out search. Good luck!