Like many creatives, you were primarily focused on one thing during the depths of the downturn: keeping your job. But now that the economy and job market are showing signs of life, you’re contemplating a change. And that might not be a bad idea. But it’s important to look before you leap. Following are some things to consider before saying “so long” to your current employer and looking for a new gig:
Determine if the grass is really greener. Before you do anything, ask yourself one question: Will switching jobs truly make me happier? It’s easy to romanticize a new position, but there’s no guarantee another role will be more fulfilling. Consider aspects of your current job that have led to dissatisfaction and if there are ways to change them.
It may be worthwhile to speak to your boss about your concerns; he or she may be willing to help you find a solution. Be specific about what you would like to see changed (e.g., additional support to help with a heavy workload, the chance to work on more web projects) instead of just complaining about every aspect of your job. Presenting possible solutions that you’ve thought of ahead of time is also a good idea.
Do your homework. Despite your efforts, you may decide that the best option is to look for employment elsewhere. If this is the case, try to gauge the demand for your skills before jumping ship. After all, it’s best to have a new opportunity lined up before giving your two weeks’ notice. Read industry publications and talk to members of your professional network or recruiters that specialize in the creative field to determine if companies are hiring talent in your area of expertise. If demand is low, you may want to increase your marketability before testing the job market.
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Consider a former employer. If you left a company on good terms, you might inquire with a past employer to see if the firm is hiring creative professionals. Many organizations look to so-called “boomerang employees” first because managers are familiar with the individual’s work ethic, performance and fit with the corporate culture.
Be patient. Keep in mind that you may not be able to find a new position right away. While there are more openings than there were a few months ago, there also is more competition as people who were waiting out the downturn re-enter the job market. In addition, the recession has affected how companies hire. Many firms now seek candidates who match a long list of requirements, and they’re willing to wait for the perfect fit. You also may find that the interview process is longer and more intensive.
Leave on a high note. Even if you can’t wait to leave your current job behind, do your best to remain professional while you look for work elsewhere. You don’t want to burn any bridges or damage relationships before you leave. Along the same lines, avoid bad-mouthing your current employer when speaking to members of your network or hiring managers.
As the economy continues to improve, there should be even more opportunities for creatives. Just be sure to contemplate a job change from all angles before you make a move.
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