New year, new job: preparing for the hunt

Answer the essential questions first – make sure you’re well prepared and targeting the best opportunities.

Most of you will have trickled back in the office by now after the break, and once again the thrill of bounding to work in the morning is rushing through the veins… Or perhaps not. A couple of weeks away from the desk basking in sunlight often sets the scene for an evaluation of career direction, satisfaction, and lifestyle. Seeking better quality of life is one of the biggest motivators for change, and there’s nothing like a summer holiday to remind us how important a good work / life balance is. Those taking a break from stressful, unchallenging, unsatisfying, or excessively demanding jobs will likely have been considering a change in pace, a change in career, or even a lengthy break to start doing all those things that have been on the ‘one day’ list for far too long. Whatever the case, it’s not uncommon for employees to return to work in January with a new perspective on their career, and a close eye on the job boards.

New positions open up as employers look ahead to the new year’s budget, and vacancies from senior and management staff who move up or out provide some good ladder-climbing opportunities. If some reflection over the summer holiday has left you with itchy feet and the desire to grow, now’s the time to make sure you know what you’re looking for, and are mentally prepared for the job hunt. Here are some questions you’ll want to have answered before you start looking seriously…

What do you want?

Knowing what satisfies you in work is essential when looking for a new job; just a change of scene in itself is rarely enough to solve any issues in the long term. Thinking about job responsibilities, technical focus, level of personal interaction, flexibility and work environment, what are the most important factors for you? Consider your short and long-term aspirations, dig into what you’ve really enjoyed in previous work, and work out what new direction is most likely to offer what you want.

What do you need?

Anything that can’t be changed outside work will have to be worked around, and may narrow down your list of potential opportunities. Do you know what salary or hourly rate you need as a minimum, and what you can reasonably request? Do you have time-specific commitments that are likely to impact your work? Have you discussed your plans with your spouse? Often employers are open to some negotiation if you have the skills and attitude they want, but make sure these requirements are clear from the start as last minute changes and renegotiations can sour a good relationship.

What do you want to avoid?

Understanding what it is about your current situation that makes you want to move on is equally as important as knowing what you want. There’s no point changing jobs if the same negative factors keep reappearing; this often leads to quick dissatisfaction and a string of short jobs in your CV. Job hopping makes interviewers wary and could decrease your chances of securing future work, so it’s essential to be clear on what you want to avoid before you go job hunting. Knowing what to check off with potential employers before you sign up will help you find a job that will appeal for at least a couple of years.

Are you ready now?

Good opportunities don’t often last long. If you find a job you like, it’ll help to be certain about your requirements and be ready to move promptly. Knowing the answers to the above questions will give you the clarity to identify the best opportunities for you and enable you to act quickly. The confidence and enthusiasm that will come across in interview from this certainty will go a long way. Once you’re mentally prepared, the next step is to get your CV in order, and form a good relationship with a recruitment consultant you can trust; someone who has been around for a while that knows enough about the technology and the industry to help you.