With the economy and unemployment the way it has been, the usual turnover of people leaving and finding new and more favorable jobs is almost nonexistent. People who would have taken moved off by this point are hanging on to jobs that they would gladly dump, if they thought they could. There is a general perception that the minute the environment changes, we’re going to see the biggest game of musical chairs you can imagine. Are you one of those just itching to jump ship and find a better job?
I’m a believer that there is no time like the present to make yourself happy. I also believe in preparing for the future. I think that even if you think your prospects of finding something better are grim, it makes sense to get started now finding your dream job. Sure, you’re working and your search time is limited. That only means you need to make time on your personal calendar to do the work. There are always arguments for not taking that first step, but you might surprise yourself with what you find. Besides, do you want to be at the head of the stampede or back in the middle with everyone else when the time comes?
I’d like to give you some thoughts for getting ahead of what will be a power curve in massive job change.
Job Search is like turning a battle ship. It will take you a while to get enough of the right things working for you to really start seeing the potential of a great job offer. That’s true for anyone launching a job search. Right now the average time to landing a job is about 6 months. That is taking into account that most of those people aren’t working and can spend much more time than you looking for a job. If we assume for a minute that you will take twice as long because you’re working, you might be looking at a year to find a job you love and get a job offer.
I personally believe that when the big job scramble happens that the ratio of applicants to openings will be as high as it is right now. That means that although the economy is better and there will be more jobs available, there will still be a high ratio of applicants for each opening for a while. Today the ratio is 5 applicants to 1 hire. 8 years ago it was just under 2 applicants to 1 hire. It’s a “buyers” market in the job market and I think until the situation normalizes, it will stay that way for close to a year after we see the economy soundly growing. In other words, it will take longer than you might think before the job market turns back into a “sellers” market (meaning you selling yourself and people clamoring to hire you). The point I’m making is that it’s really going to take you a while to find the new job, so you might as well get started right now.
You might be pursuing some significant career growth. Imagine the situation. You go to another company that you like better and you’re there just as they decide they’re going to grow and hire a bunch of people. Where will that put you? You will be positioned to ride that upward growth. Chances are high you will get more responsibility and more opportunity to grow simply because you are already there. Again, where do you want to be when the stampede happens? You have to start thinking strategically about your career. I think right now is a super time to really position yourself for a growth “spurt” in your career. Certainly, this situation could happen where you are right now, but for a variety of reasons---you don’t like your job. If your only reason for discontent is lack of growth then staying is fine, if you think your businesses industry is positioned well. But if you don’t like the boss, corporate culture, or job content then even if your company grows you need to go - NOW. Even if your company is going to grow, it doesn’t mean you will like it better than today.
Career happiness and growth are linked. Which came first, happiness or career growth? We can be our own worst enemy professionally at times. When we are unhappy with our job/career it is seriously hard to not let it show. It is also hard to create a situation where you are performing your best. If you aren’t performing your best, you are probably setting yourself up for no growth. You are lacking a sense of finding opportunities and management isn’t going to pitch a sweet project your way if your boss thinks you’re going to make a half-hearted attempt. It is a circular issue at some point, thus my philosophical question.
When you are happy or passionate about your work, you are the ultimate working machine. You are creative, productive and “see” opportunity daily. Employees in this state of being at work are a joy for the boss to have. You see opportunities to solve problems and the boss is eager to have you try. Hopefully you are seeing the point. If you are unhappy in your job and waiting out the economy, you may be doing yourself more harm than you realize. As a work associate once said to me: “If you stay in a job long enough, you will get fired”. Interesting thought, but I think it’s worth considering.
I have no crystal ball into our economic turnaround, but it does seem things are starting to slowly improve. The improvement may speed up or it may make a slow climb upward. No matter the speed, if you’ve been holding out on changing jobs you owe it to your career to get started making your move right now.