In this series we look at all the aspects you should consider in depth before searching for a new job. My aim is to help you better understand your career options and how you can give yourself the best chance of achieving them, whilst avoiding the pitfalls some people fall into every day.
The first part of your strategy in finding an ideal job for you is understanding why you are looking in the first place. In my experience, there are four key reasons why people want to move on: More Money, Career Progression, People Problems and Location. Let’s look at these factors in more detail and see how you can avoid pitfalls that can negatively affect your career.
Money is a common motivator that pushes us on in our career. However, you don’t want to become known in the market as money motivated with little interest in the tech or company values. Over the years I’ve dealt with many people who have felt that moving job automatically means a pay rise. From both the recruiter’s and employer’s point of view, this can be a negative. If more money is your driver, you need to back up your salary expectations with facts take into account your technical and business ability in relation to your peers and what the employer is looking to achieve by recruiting you. Part of your strategy has to be finding out what the going rate companies are willing to pay for your current skill set. Also, think about other aspects outside your technical skills that you can bring to a new job that justifies more pay. Remember, you are looking to realise the value of your potential from your next move, the employer is also seeking a return on their investment in you and the skill set you bring. Showcase your technical abilities right, pitch your business and management skills or potential, and you might get the pay rise you’re after.
If you don’t have a strategy or idea where you want your career to go, you can end up in serious trouble. By serious, I mean, in a dead end job, being paid a low salary, and one step away from being unemployable. Technology moves fast and you need to keep up with it, or face limited career options in the future. A relatively short time ago, I was working with a group of developers who wanted to move after working for the same employer for many years. They were all VB6 developers in their 40’s, working with old tech as their main application. These guys had no idea their technical skill set was completely out-of-date. These days, you can have 20 years development experience, but if your latest tech is VB6, you could be on the scrap heap, certainly less employable than a 22 year old with 2 years of PHP full stack experience. Employers are looking for motivated, open-minded professionals, willing to learn new skills and different ways of doing. If this doesn’t sound like you, you’ll be seen as unmotivated without that positive, creative energy employer’s love. It is essential you think about where you ideally want to be in 10 years, even 20 years’ time, and what you’d like your work-life to be like. Be aware of the Plateau. This can take two forms: Staying in your current job for too long (perception – lack of diverse skills, only knows one way of doing), and doing the same type of role for too long (perception – no motivation to progress, likes playing it safe). I have seen many examples of both, and they always end up the same – candidates not capable of landing a better job. You need to demonstrate specific and diverse experience to employers, staying with the same company for more than seven years is now regarded as negative by the majority of tech employers. Likewise, staying in the same type of role for too long, even with different companies, isn’t good either – employers want to see progression.
Let’s face it, there’s always going to be someone in the workplace that rubs us up the wrong way – right? Most of the time we deal with our differences, but what happens when we don’t? Always try to resolve issues in a mature and professional manner and not let things get so bad it has a negative impact on your career. By way of an example; in the early noughties I worked on SAP recruitment worldwide, it always amazed me when talking with consultants around the world, what they knew was happening on the ground in other offices. In our inter-connected world, remember word gets around – both positive and negative. Employers are always looking for team fit – how you will get on with your co-workers, and management. If you talk about people problems in an interview, it will be seen as negative, regardless of whether it was your fault or the other person.
No employer will have an issue if you’ve decided to seek work closer to home and improve your work / life balance – we’ve all been there. If a job is close to home it can be a real positive, especially for the employer. This is something to push home in an interview, but remain flexible, your dream job may not end up on your doorstep.
The next article in this Career Advice Series deals with Selling yourself.
By Roger Mills, Co-founder of Think IT Recruitment.
As always, if there’s anything in this article you would like to discuss, please start a conversation or get in touch with me.