The economy is improving and the unemployment rate in IT remains dramatically low—2.6 percent during 2014’s third quarter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Developers, engineers and security specialists are in high demand. For tech professionals, it would seem like an ideal time to look for a new job.
So why do some hesitate?
The reasons vary, recruiters suggest. Of course, some people are happy where they are; but others who’ve kept their skills current, worked on cutting-edge projects and had a real business impact will sometimes stay in place, foregoing the opportunity to increase their salary and experience. No matter how favorable conditions seem, they can never quite get themselves to send out their résumé or even put out the word to their network.
In some cases, people trip themselves up in a quest for perfection, said Ben Hicks, a partner at search firm WinterWyman in Waltham, Mass. “Some people want everything perfect: the exact right company, location, pay, benefits, people on the team.” In other cases, they’re forever revising their résumés, believing that one more draft will get that document to some optimal point. In still others, they’re waiting for the perfect time to make a move—after their next bonus comes through, or as soon as their current project is completed, or…
The risks of falling into such patterns are evident. The most obvious is you’ll remain at your current job, possibly long past the time when it would have been right to leave. And while the economy is gaining strength now, at some point fortunes will change and the candidate-driven job market will revert to one where employers have the advantage.
This quasi-job search—where you’re perpetually thinking of moving, but not actively looking—can be distracting, Hicks points out. When people end up in a long, frustrating process, they can neglect things that are important in the here and now, such as their work, company and health.
What to Do
Does any of the above sound familiar? If you want to make a move but seem to be stalled in your efforts…
- Take a step back. Sometimes you need to pause and take an honest, self-reflective look at your situation. If you’re convinced it’s time for a move, but your résumé never seems quite right or no position looks like a good fit, ask yourself whether your expectations are realistic. Try to identify what parts of a job are the most important to you, and consider where you’d be comfortable compromising.
- Think about your long-term goals. Are you clear about the type of position you’re looking for and the kind of company you’d like to join? For example, if your heart’s in the startup world and you’re only looking at jobs with brand-name companies, that could explain why nothing’s getting you excited. Be sure that you’re matching your job search to the career path you want to pursue.
- Talk to someone. Maybe there’s a colleague with whom you can sit down, or a career coach, or a recruiter you like. Whoever it is, sometimes it helps to have a conversation about where you want your career to go, as well as your near-term goals. Hicks believes this is another way to help you identify areas where you’re comfortable compromising.
Job searches don’t always have a clear start. “Most people don’t wake up one day and decide they’re going to look for a new position,” Hicks noted. “They dip a toe in the water.” As a result, many job seekers don’t think through their objectives and compromises—even though they need to do just that.
As Hicks points out, sometimes having that conversation with yourself can lead to the realization that you shouldn’t change jobs: “Coming to the realization more quickly is better.” Doing so will save you from wasting time on a job search when you don’t really want to make a move.
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