November 15, 2010

When is the Best Time to Look for a New Job?

Beth Cliff

Beth Cliff

When is the Best Time to Look for a New Job?

By Beth Cliff, Executive Recruiter, High Tech Engineering Talent Manager

The old adage follows that the best time to look for a job is when you already have one.  While this may still hold true, the reality of today’s economic climate dictates that many excellent candidates are finding themselves unemployed and in the midst of a job search.  There are pros and cons to both classifications of candidates – those who are employed and those who are not, when it comes to identifying your next career opportunity.  What I have found over the years as a Recruiter is that no matter what your motivation for seeking a new opportunity, preparation and attitude are key.

As a Girl Scout Leader, our motto is “Be Prepared”!  You should always have an updated resume with your current position ready to send out, even if you are not really looking.  The chance that you have been waiting for to break into management a new role may be a phone call away, and if the opportunity presents itself, you will need to move quickly.  In addition to having your resume ready to go, be sure to have a current list of professional references.  Ask for a letter of recommendation whenever you transition from one department, or role or company to another.  In cases where whole departments have been downsized or disbanded, be sure to stay in touch with managers and co-workers so that they are reachable when you need them.   The current workforce is a very dynamic environment, so keep an updated list of references and contact information.

Timing in all phases of considering a new role will be critical.  Candidates who are not currently employed will have an obvious advantage with schedule flexibility and availability when it comes to the interview process.  Candidates who are employed will have to ask themselves if they are committed to the interview process, and prepared to take the time to interview prior to engaging in a search. 

Generally speaking, considering a new role while you are gainfully employed will give you the opportunity to evaluate and compare your current situation with the new opportunity.  If you are unemployed, it may be tempting to accept the first job offer that comes your way;, however, you need to think like a candidate who is employed so that you don’t end up in the wrong role.  Ask yourself the same questions an employed candidate would consider.  Will your skills be best utilized in this role?  Will your one, five, and ten-year goals be met by joining this organization?  Are you staying on track with your compensation history and goals?  In the long run, taking the time to honestly evaluate an opportunity will benefit you both financially and career-wise.

Another important piece to the interview process is attitude. The number one reason I hear from hiring managers as to why they chose one qualified candidate over another is enthusiasm!  Candidates who are not currently employed tend to have a leg up on enthusiasm.  It is very important for someone who is employed to bring the same enthusiasm and hunger to the interview process.  It is equally important for candidates who are not currently employed to not come across as desperate for the opportunity.  Be confident in yourself and what you are bringing to the organization.  Be prepared to discuss the company and what they do, as well as, how your experience will be an added value.

Whatever your current employment situation may be, when looking for a new job there are pluses and minuses to both sides of the fence, so take a cue from the other side.  Ultimately, you are looking to improve upon your current role, so the best time to look for a job is when you are personally invested in the process.
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About Beth Cliff:
Beth joined Redfish in 2006, and currently heads up the High Tech Engineering recruiting on the East coast. She began her recruiting career in 1995, and continues to find her job challenging and rewarding. Originally from Ohio, Beth graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a BA in Psychology. After living in NJ for a number of years, she now resides in Rhode Island with her daughter and Jack Russell terrier. Her time away from the office is spent cooking, baking, gardening, and advocating for animals. Connect with Beth on LinkedIn.

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