Q: I have been in my current job for six years. Should I start looking for a new one? If so, how should I go about it?
A: Yes, you probably should. But there is no golden rule about how long you should be in a job, except two years is too short and 10 years is too long.
But a warning. The best time to look for a job is when you are happy in your current one - only then can you be dispassionate enough to assess other jobs carefully. Otherwise there is a danger you will get into a rut, and feel that you have to move on and then jump at the first offer.
The New Year is a good time to take stock. Take some practical steps:
- Review your current job (positives and negatives)
- What job would suit your particular skills?
- Review your CV
- Start looking at jobs in the papers (there will be lots at the start of the year)
Once you have done all these, you might start applying for posts, but you should not jump too quickly. Please don't send your CV off on spec in the vague hope something might happen. You are about to make a serious investment for another five-or-so years of your life, so don't be a hostage to fortune.
When you apply, and certainly when you go for interview, check out the organisation. Find out what the people are like, especially your new boss and the CEO, and look at the website and annual report and ask around about them. Amazingly, people spend more time on average buying a new TV than checking out a potential job.
Do not be put off by an interview. I realise many organisations make you feel that you are there for their pleasure, but you are not - it is also your chance to make your own assessment of the organisation and whether it feels right for you.
It goes without saying you should prepare for an interview. This is something you can practise now with a mentor or friend. So in the New Year, as part of your 'health check' on your job, think about ways you can improve your saleability. Look at your career hinterland for example. What work are you doing outside your job in terms of trustee positions, school governorships and the like? Forget hobbies - do public work!
And of course, network - network like mad. Use your contacts, get out to events, and exploit opportunities to write and speak where you can.
So now you know what your New Year's resolution will be, don't you?
- Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.