If you’re considering a job change, here’s a word to the wise: make sure you’re leaving for the right reasons and the right company. Grant Thornton’s 2022 State of Work in America found that 40% of people who took new jobs would consider returning to their former employer. Now, that doesn’t mean they’d be happy going back, but it does suggest they may have chosen new opportunities based on a fleeting criterion.
The driving force behind leaving a job could be one of several factors. According to the same report from Grant Thornton, of the 21% of survey respondents who took a new job, 37% cited base pay as the main issue while 27% reported a lack of advancement opportunities. It’s safe to say that these are universal motivators (as are benefits, bonuses, and autonomy in the workplace). But none of these guarantee a person’s loyalty in the long run.
Speaking of which, company loyalty as a concept seems to be eroding, giving way to a new age of restlessness in the workplace. Of all the respondents to the State of Work in America survey, 29% claim to be actively looking for a new job, regardless of satisfaction with their current role. That number jumps to an astounding 50% among employees who make more than $100,000 annually.
So how is anyone supposed to find a satisfying long-term role when considering a job change? In our experience, following these steps can help ensure you land in just the right spot.
Be Your Own Product
Employers have to sort through resumes from hundreds of competing candidates with skills just like yours. What differentiates you from the field? What are your God-given gifts? How do you use those gifts to improve the organizations and communities you touch? Distill these ideas by thinking of and positioning yourself as the end product or your own passion project.
No matter your niche in the IT world, there’s a twofold way to discuss any technical project: the laundry list of tech specs and the value add that improves the organization. Since you’re the expert for your career, you have an opportunity to create that two-tiered story across your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn page, and interview interactions.
Like any unique software or solutions product, there are situations where you’ll flourish and those where you will only make do. Though base pay is the main motivator for more than one-third of the workers surveyed above, it doesn’t account for whether the job itself will feel satisfying or maximize your gifts. What appeals to you? What energizes you? Are you looking to pioneer hot technologies or passion projects (like our Capstone Labs team members do) or are you looking for a collaborative environment (think DevOps or DevSecOps)? Do some self-exploration and then represent the sides of yourself that will attract recruiters or hiring managers for your ideal position.
A common maxim in the modern workplace states that we should bring our whole selves to the office. This is not an invitation to do whatever you feel like, but it is an important reminder to strive for authenticity. Let this be your guide during the interview process and any subsequent interactions with company leadership.
If you’ve been in the industry a while and have considerable soft skills, chances are you can tailor the way you present yourself to seemingly fit in with almost any corporate culture. This can be effective in the moment, but it could place you firmly in a position that makes you immediately look for the exits.
Strive to be your truest self in a professional environment. Though diversity is important, find organizations that align with your own values. Around half of respondents in a recent survey of North American professionals said they would consider quitting a job if their values were misaligned with their current job’s. By seeking out people who are like-minded with you and one in purpose, you prevent yourself from entering an organization that clashes with your own values, saving yourself and that company time and frustration.
Be a Mentee
If you’re lucky enough to have one, be sure to tap into the power of a trusted mentor. Few other people in your professional life will be able to see your skillset and personality for what they are. Sometimes our own assessments and judgements fall short, so gathering feedback from someone you trust implicitly can lead you toward an ideal role and help you avoid a “square peg, round hole” situation.
Whether it’s an organic connection or someone you hire, a mentor can keep you on the path of stability by weighing in on which roles appear right for you. And remember that mentors come in all forms; they don’t necessarily have to be people in traditional leadership roles. For example, you should never underestimate the guidance given by a trustworthy recruiter—like the ones at Capstone IT—whose sole purpose is to connect you to incredible opportunities. If given enough time, a recruiter’s role in your life can mature into that of an advisor who understands your skillset better than you do.
Finding your ideal job is no easy feat, and the temptation to chase financial opportunities or robust benefits packages can be intoxicating. But don’t let the degree of difficulty deter you from following the three steps outlined here. We all stand to spend roughly one third of our lives at work— a whopping 90,000 hours for the average person. Make sure your next job opportunity is one that promises to fulfill you completely, not just pay the bills.
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