job changeA recent survey from Manpower reported that up to 84% of workers are thinking about leaving their jobs. As we discuss in our eGuide, 6 Things You Can Do to Improve IT Contractor Retention, money is not always the driving factor in job dissatisfaction as this column from HR Morning also shows. Salary is still often the most important thing to many workers, while others leave for the chance to work on emerging technologies or other new opportunities. Whatever your motivation and whether you are full or part time, permanent or temporary, there are three things you should do to ensure that you make smart changes that bring you the new opportunities, recognition and salary that you desire and deserve.

Whether you are just thinking about where you might want to work next or have already interviewed and are expecting an offer, learning more is essential. Everyone recommends that you prepare for interviews by researching the company and it is important to do so and will certainly help you to perform better. But impressing the interviewer is not the only reason to learn as much as you can. In today’s uncertain economic climate, you want to be sure that your potential future employer is a strong company and will continue to prosper and grow. Check out their financials, annual report, and their stock price. Consult your local better business bureau and any related industry groups. What is being said about them in the business pages? What has their past performance been and what are they, and others, saying about their future? Can they weather a future downturn without layoffs or other strident measures? This kind of information can help you feel confident that you are headed to a stable workplace and promising future. After all, it doesn’t matter how big a raise they give you if they are out of business a year after you make your move.

If, like HR Morning reports, you are feeling unappreciated or unrecognized at your current firm, how can you know that a new company will be different? Don’t rely solely on promises made by representatives of the company, whether it’s a recruiter, HR rep, or your future boss, especially if you are someone with in-demand skills or highly sought after experience. When a company wants you they can, and will, make all kinds of promises; the smart worker will do their own research to see if those promises will be kept. Most people think of networking as a way to find out about open positions or current hiring, but it is also a valuable tool to learn more for your own benefit. Reach out to family, friends, and colleagues to find people that know the company more intimately than you do. Current and former employees will be able to give you a truer picture of the corporate culture and how the company actually works. They can tell you if it does promote from within, frequently converts temps to perms, or the level of overtime you might be expected to work and they can give you details on the benefits offered. Intangibles like this can’t be gleaned from annual reports, you need to speak with people who know the company from the inside and are willing to be honest. Don’t assume that things will be better; be sure.

Finally, although it isn’t always feasible, try talking to your current employer before making a move. No one is a mind reader. Your boss may not be aware of your unhappiness or career plans and they may be willing to make changes that will improve your situation without you having to make a move. For example, the recent recession has resulted in frozen or minimal yearly increases at many firms as high unemployment has meant a large talent pool for companies to hire from. That however is changing, slowly but surely, and depending on your skill set and experience, may now be irrelevant. If your research shows that other companies are now willing to pay more for similar jobs, take that information to your boss. Most firms understand that they need to pay competitive wages but may not be aware of what the marketplace is offering. They may be willing to match or improve on what you think you can get elsewhere. If you are looking for new, challenging projects, it is even more imperative to speak with your current employer. They are very likely unaware of your career aspirations or unsure of how they can meet them. If there is a project you want to work on or you want exposure to a new technology, ask! They may be able to offer you the opportunity to do so, or they may not, but you will never know unless you ask.

I frequently use this space to encourage people to take charge of their own careers and be proactive. Changing companies will probably be necessary at some point in your working life; I hope my advice here helps you make the right move.

Jerry Brenholz
President and CEO


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