OPINION14 January 2015

New year, new job?


The most effective researchers are those perpetually seeking to advance their skills so, as 2015 builds up steam, many will be contemplating how a new role could help them get ahead. But don’t be impetuous, warns Sinead Hasson, there are steps to follow before making the leap.

A combination of factors usually triggers a desire to change jobs. Pay usually features prominently, as does seniority and progression through the ranks, but it is the opportunity to learn and develop new skills that drives the best in the business to move on.

Common though it is to earmark the winter break for ‘thinking things over’, many find the festive season action packed with parties, last minute shopping, overindulgence and recuperation, leaving precious little time for level headed career reflection. If this is you, it may be wise to take a step back. January and February, with their healthy eating, fitness regimes, resolutions and financial modesty (until January’s pay day, at least), can be a far better time to take stock.

Researchers work in the way they do because, put simply, it works. With this in mind, it makes sense to apply the same methodical rigour to the analysis of your own professional situation as you would to a new project brief. Just as with a new assignment, the more you investigate, the easier it will be to identify what it is you seek to change. Years in the recruitment sector have taught me that it’s also wise to evaluate where you have been, together with your current situation, in order to nail down your real strengths, as well as the skills that you need to focus on developing. 

Only by conducting a fair and honest self-appraisal can you set achievable career objectives, which will, of course vary hugely depending on your career and personal circumstances. Those with one eye on retirement, or with family commitments may seek less time in the office, or less professional responsibility. Those just starting out may prioritise sector diversity over flexibility.

Self-reflection accomplished, it’s worth considering how you might be able to effect change internally in order to achieve your goals. If you’re valued, your objectives will be taken seriously and accommodations (within what is practically achievable) will be made. If the conversation falls flat, that’s often an indicator that it’s time to make the break you were already planning.

A ‘full and frank’ conversation with your current employer will be appreciated more than a resignation letter

Making a confident and grounded decision to move on is one thing. Accepting a new role is quite another. Once the decision has been made, ‘flight-fever’ can easily get in the way of making the right job choices. It’s easy to fall for ‘salary seduction’ and waste your time applying for posts that are incommensurate with your skills and experience.

For each and every opportunity, evaluate whether the organisation’s values, culture and work align with your own. It’s OK to be unsure; part of job seeking is investigation, but by the time there’s an offer on the table you should already know whether you wish to work for this firm. Employee engagement is strongly linked to job satisfaction, so if you’re planning on enjoying your working life, compatibility with your new employer is essential. 

Changing positions is never easy and often becomes harder with seniority. There’s no way of knowing what the future holds, but by approaching the business of switching roles with a clear idea of who you are, what you can do and where you want to go, you will give yourself the best chance of achieving success.

Sinead Hasson is managing director of market research recruitment consultancy, Hasson Associates