Q: I am thinking of changing jobs. How should I plan for this?
A: The key here is the word 'plan'. So often career changes come about by chance and I am afraid there is no exact science. It is not simply a question of deciding that you are going to move and then, hey presto, you are in your new, more interesting and better-paid executive position.
I am often asked what is an ideal time in a particular job. That is difficult to answer, but I don't think it does any harm to review your career opportunities on, say, a three-year basis. You need to watch the two extremes - people don't look favourably on candidates who career hop every couple of years.
Neither do they necessarily favour people who have been in the exactly same post for more than six years.
My first advice would be to create a career checklist, which calculates the benefits of staying as opposed to moving. If you decide that you want to move, then you should:
- Polish your CV
- Make sure this is not just a list of previous employers, but highlights the achievements and the skills you can offer
- Draw up a checklist of your strengths
- Consider what your ideal move would be
- Be bold - consider very senior posts or a move into private or public sector
- Start to look at the job ads
- Don't just go for a job because it is there
- Consider what you bring to the job and if it will meet your needs in the long-term
- Send your CV to relevant head-hunters.
You also must develop your hinterland. All of us working in the voluntary sector should have outside involvement as trustees, non-executives or volunteers. There are lots of opportunities for the taking if you make the effort. Interview panels want rounded experience and interesting personalities, not workaholics who have never done anything other than work. An interest in gardening does not count.
Also as part of the increased networking you should:
- Expand your attendance at seminars and conference and exploit opportunities to speak or write to get your name around
- Make use of professional associations
- Develop a systematic database of all your contacts.
But a final word of warning. If you decide to go actively after jobs, don't let this demoralise you in the current position.
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