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3 Career Questions to Ask Yourself Right Now

3 Career Questions to Ask Yourself Right Now

Do you find yourself getting so caught up in day-to-day work that you forget about what you really want to do and how you are going to get there? Instant gratification of the to-dos and the right-nows make it easy to continue putting off the necessary time to really think about your long-term career goals. Between balancing life, work, family, friends, activities, it seems as if there is simply no time to think about your career goals.

Unless you want your professional growth and career to take a backseat forever, you must step back from the daily grind to really reflect about the bigger picture.

We highly encourage you take just a moment to answer these three career planning questions to reach your goals:

What are skills that I’ve improved in the last month, quarter, year?

Think of this as a self performance review. Taking time to write a genuine self-assessment of your skills and contributions to your organization can really help you see where you are in your career journey. Let’s say your long-term career goal is becoming a Controller for a large corporation. What are the necessary skills to continuing advancement to this level?

Qualifications for a Controller might include a combination of technical and soft skills – strong background in financial management, reconciliations, analytical thinking, interpersonal skills, Microsoft Excel, etc.

What are you doing now that will help you to get there?

Tip: Create a running list of all the technical and soft skills needed to get you to your long-term career goal and rate your skills from needs improvement to skills that you feel you’ve mastered. Focus on ways to improve, seek out mentors and jot down notes about experiences that demonstrate you’re improving. Update and review this list either bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

Am I making strides in my career trajectory the way I imagined?

It’s essential to reflect on all facets of where you are now and where you want to be. Are you on your career trajectory? Are you happy with it? Is it important to you? Is it one that you still want to be on? If so, great, a congratulations is due! If not, it’s time to turn things around.

Assess the values of your life – relationships, family, hobbies, religion, fitness. Where does your career fall in importance? If your vision is to become Partner but you realize that you value family time and hobbies more, you may need to rethink your career trajectory.

Things aren’t always what they seem. What do you really think you enjoy at work now? How can you have a fulfilling job that makes you happy? Recalibrate your vision and stay on the path that is right for you based on your interests, values and passions. If you’re thinking that you would benefit from a complete 180 career change, listen to your gut and do it (but talk to us first)!

Does my current role support my long-term career goals?

Another way to phrase this question: Are there growth opportunities at my current company that could help me progress? If not, we suggest that you run, not walk, to another position that will help you get there.

The entry level and midlevel points in your career are the most important regarding positioning yourself to reach your goals. These are times of great growth and development in terms of experiences and responsibilities. At the Senior level there are even still ways to improve. Take every opportunity to keep learning and growing.

Either way, this is the most important question to consider. Returning to our first example…let’s say your ultimate career goal is to become a Controller for a large corporation. Are you in a position at a forward-moving company that promotes internally? Are you in a position with a large corporation already doing some operational accounting? Either way, you could be on your merry way to the Controller level.

Remember, it’s nearly impossible to plan your career out at every single step but being intentional and taking time to consider the bigger picture can get you closer to your goals in the long run. Accountants One thinks that keeping you at your career planning best is a win so keep these questions in mind!

 

 

Private vs. Public: Questions To Consider Before Making the Switch to Industry

Private vs. Public: Questions To Consider Before Making the Switch to Industry

April 17th, 2019

First off, congratulations! With April 15 behind us you can take a deep breath and relax now that busy season is finally over!

We encourage you to take time for careful self-reflection before choosing to make a career change. Sure, there may be aspects about public accounting that you love and others that you wish you could change, but how you answer these questions will reveal a lot about yourself. A little introspection goes a long way.

Private vs Public
Career Building Steps for Staff Accountants

Career Building Steps for Staff Accountants

 

The stable accounting foundation, skill set and experience that comes along with a Staff Accountant role will provide you tremendous value once you decide you are ready to grow your career. This is why most individuals choose the Accounting & Finance industry in the first place, right? For great characteristics like interesting career possibilities, salary, and professional growth? These are enticing and certainly make this industry a hard one to pass up. Use the career building steps below to get ahead of the competition.

If you are at all systematic or meticulous when it comes to your career, chances are, you’ve thought about future job opportunities including Senior Accountant, Accounting Manager, Controller and beyond.

The best advice from accounting & finance job recruiters

It’s the time to be proactive! Getting ahead while you are in this mid-tier Staff Accountant role is essential for continued career progression.

Let’s face it, you’re up against stiff competition in today’s job market. Make sure your qualifications that you’ve worked on for years don’t slip between the cracks. You must always, and we repeat always, keep improving yourself.  It will give you the competitive advantage when you are ready to make your move.

Side note: We’ve seen Staff Accountant job opportunities in Atlanta area triple even in the last few months. Employers need strong Staff Accountants both in the public and private sector. Use the 3 career building steps below to get ahead of the competition. Please click here to view available Staff Accountant job listings for direct hire, temp-to-hire, and contract.

3 career building steps for staff accountants

1. Develop Your Skills

Staff accountants must master a wide variety of skills to exceed in their profession. While most of these skills are obtained over time and through on the job experience, you can take proactive steps to better yourself.

Receiving training, asking for help from a mentor, & continuing education are all great places to start. Considering a CPA or CMA certification may be an option based on your role and career goals. Be vocal if there is something you want help with or feel you need to improve on to get to the next level.

2. Show Leadership

Showing leadership is especially important if you are hoping to progress internally within your current company.  Although this is considered a soft skill, it is an important skill to sharpen and perfect! Think about it, once you decide it’s time to make a career move, you will be asked to lead a team  — maybe one, maybe four, maybe ten!

Helping your current managers with daily tasks, making their priorities your priorities, and helping the entire team will get you a long way. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and volunteer for the next challenge. Be proactive! Even if you aren’t planning to stay at the same organization you will receive an exceptional reference from that former supervisor!

3. Use Your Resources

There are several resources available that you should fully utilize once you are ready to begin exploring opportunities.  Resources include, but aren’t limited to, previous mentors, supervisors, former class mates, job boards, peers that have grown their career, and recruitment agencies. Recruitment agencies serve job seekers as a special ‘one-stop-shop’ resource and help professionals with strategic career planning. Accountants One partners for the long-term and gives you a number of advantages including:

  • Access to jobs and companies that you may not necessarily know about
  • Industry expertise regarding culture, salary, in-demand skills, etc.
  • Host networking events and offer continuing education (CPE)
  • Relationships with hiring managers across a variety of industries
  • Advice on career path including transitioning from public to private and switching industries

Ready to start advancing your career?

Whether you’re in Public or Private, real estate or healthcare, there is a high demand for your accounting & finance skill set and experience.

Don’t be opportunistic with your career path. Be intentional and persevere until you get where you want!

Career building steps for accountants infographic

 

How to Prepare for a Successful Interview

How to Prepare for a Successful Interview

 

This article features the expertise of John Davis, a professional recruiter with over thirty years of experience in the Atlanta market, 19 of those with Accountants One.

There’s a lot to consider as you prepare for a job interview.  Here, Accountants One recruiter John Davis shares his expertise, having conducted thousands of exit interviews between candidates and their employers during his career.

John encourages job candidates to contemplate several considerations.  For this article, he shared four areas that are critical:

  1. Know your primary objective of interviewing
  2. Be prepared to answer key questions
  3. Be prepared for the “Money” question
  4. Understand the dynamics of your post-interview follow-up

Let’s roll up our sleeves and learn from John’s vast experience:

Primary Objective of Interviewing

Your primary objective as a candidate should always be — to get a job offer!   Concerns, such as “what’s in this for me” questions, can be addressed after the job has been offered.

So, how do you get the offer?

First, focus on THAT job – don’t look ahead to your next promotion.  Remember the company is hiring you to solve their immediate pain Now – the current position as described – not what you can do for them in the future.

Secondly, make a positive impression.  This begins by being authentic.  After all, the person they experience in the interview should be the person that’s going to show up for work — just make sure it’s the very best self you are capable of being).  In this initial interviewer, your job is to let the interviewer know that you are well-qualified to do this job.

This means you need to be mindful of how you present yourself.  Speak up, smile, be as outgoing and enthusiastic as your personality will allow.  You will be amazed how many times an employer will get enthusiastic about you if you show genuine, outgoing enthusiasm.

Look, act, and be professional.   Wear a business suit or business casual attire.  Leave the cologne and perfume at home, as some clients might be allergic.  And, remember, it’s not just what you wear, it’s what you bring.  Along with your enthusiasm, be sure to have an extra copy of your resume in-hand!

Finally, be aware of the importance of how you communicate.  Communication skills rank second only to job knowledge as factors crucial for business success, and those ‘skills’ encompasses a host of qualities, both verbal and nonverbal.  You communicate through your speech patterns, vocal tone and quality, gestures, attire, your posture, your eyes, your facial expressions, your listening skills, your sense of humor, the questions you ask.  Together, these factors make up your professional image and how those in power view you.  Remember, there’s only one chance for a first impression!

Be Prepared For Key Questions

Believe it or not, the interview is not all about you.  (That should be a great relief, by the way.) The purpose of the interview is to address the hiree’s concerns. Interviewers often come into the process from a Mindset of Fear (“What if I make a mistake and hire the wrong person!”).  It’s up to you to alleviate that fear by positioning yourself as their problem solver.  You do this by being prepared beforehand to give concrete examples from your own business experience to answer the interviewer’s four core key questions.  Mind you, they won’t ask these questions directly, but these four questions are the subtext behind almost every query they have for you:

Why are you here?

To answer, ask yourself: What does this job involve?. 

What can you do for us?

To answer, ask yourself: Do my skills truly match this job? 

What kind of person are you?

To answer, ask yourself: Are these the kind of people I would like to work with, or not?

What distinguishes you from the 19 other people who have the same skills as you have?

To answer, ask yourself: Can I persuade them there is something unique about me that makes me different from these other people who can do these same tasks?  Have your own stories and accomplishments from personal experience that demonstrate your skills and how you can solve their problems.

Everything you do and say must answer these questions to the employer’s satisfaction.  Needless to say, speak the truth!  It is one thing to get the job but then you must keep it.  Exaggerating your skills or “enhancing” your experience will backfire every time once you have to perform.

And, though it may not seem like it while in the hot seat, an interview is designed to be a conversation, not an interrogation.  Relax and engage.  Be an active listener and strive to answer questions directly in the first sentence of your response, only elaborating after that as needed.  This approach keeps the conversation focused and on-point for both parties.

You should have several well-thought-out questions prepared as well.   Have your questions written down and in a portfolio folder or small notebook.  It’s best to ask general questions designed to draw out the interviewer so you can better determine what they are looking for in this position, such as:

  • What are the most important skills you are looking for in this position, both technically and personally?
  • What do you wish you had known about this company before you came to work here?
  • How will you measure my success in this position?
  • What is it that I can do to make your job easier?”
  • Has anyone who’s worked for you failed, and why?
  • Has anyone who’s worked for you really succeeded, and why?
  • Who are the company’s “Star” employees, and what are they like?

Needless to say, you must also have several specific questions about that company and that position.  The goal is not to give a good performance but to build real rapport with the interviewer and create a relationship that lasts beyond the interview, and to address the employer’s concerns.  It’s not about memorized answers or any fancy footwork, but overall fit that you’re going for.

THE MONEY

Wonder why we buried this important topic way down here?  It’s because salary and compensation are very literally the LAST thing that you want to discuss (and do all you can to avoid it in any initial interview).  The more time the employer invests in you — in interviewing or lunches or revisits or reference checking, etc. — the more you have helped to “tenderize” them when it comes to how much they will offer in compensation.  Time is definitely on your side in this area so relax and don’t bring it up, ever — the employer will not forget to address this subject!

However, what if the employer asks you to commit to compensation first, like filling out an application that asks “desired salary”?  If you must commit something to writing how about “it’s negotiable”; or if you can’t get away with that one gives a very broad range, from the lowest you will seriously consider in base salary to the top of their range as you understand it.

If the compensation question is asked directly to you by an interviewer, you can say something like “while salary is important to me, the duties and responsibilities, the team, the company, the opportunity, etc, etc, are MORE important; so, I’m sure if we can come to agreement on these things, compensation will take care of itself”.  Or my personal favorite: “I am here because I believe there is real opportunity for both of us, so I WILL CONSIDER YOUR STRONGEST OFFER”.  Of course, you want the employer to lay their cards on the table first and commit themselves to a figure. This helps to insure you don’t leave any money on the table that could have been yours.

Post Interview Follow-up

After the interview, what then?

A short “Thank You” email, of course.  Just make sure it looks and reads like a business letter – no time to get sloppy; this is a chance to highlight your written communication skills with a brief letter-formatted email that (1) basically thanks them for the interview and 2) states you are confident you can handle this position because….. (just a very short phrase or sentence — don’t oversell), and 3) you hope to have the opportunity to meet with them again.  If something personal came up during your interview that allows you to make a “human link” – you found out you went to the same college, have kids the same age, etc., this can be a good personal touch.  Again, just don’t overdo it.

Following these tips will not guarantee any offer, nor the perfect salary or perfect position; but it will build your self-confidence and certainly improve your chances of success if you find yourself face-to-face with what might just be the Best opportunity in your career.

The Value of Working with a Recruiter

The Value of Working with a Recruiter

Should you work with a recruiter?

Ten hour workdays. Back-to-back-to back meetings. Looming deadlines. Sound familiar? When your current job keeps your hands full, it can be challenging to reach for that next rung on your career ladder. You don’t have time to check your email, much less check job boards.

This is where a professional recruiter becomes an invaluable partner. A recruiter can navigate channels on your behalf, allowing you to continue doing your job, because they’re doing theirs. In fact, teaming up with the right recruiter arms a candidate with a number of distinct advantages. Let’s look at some of the ways an ethical, engaged, capable recruiter can help you further your career.

It’s a Career, Not a Job

Notice that last paragraph ended with the phrase “further your career”. That’s because, while some recruiters merely attempt to find you a job, the best ones help you plan your career. That’s a huge differentiator.

There’s nothing more deflating than being so hungry for that next gig that you accept it, only to find that it isn’t a true fit. Now you’re stuck between the security of a paycheck and a daily sense of duty to something that doesn’t bend toward your life goals. The right recruiter will work with you to ensure that your next job is part of your career path, not just a place to tread water while you wait for the tides to shift.

Beyond the Boards

A recruiter will also have access to jobs you may not know exist if your main resource is the go-to cache of job boards. Companies often prefer going through recruiters to onboard talent because they know it will save them time, resources, money, and buckets of Extra Strength Tylenol. They know a recruiter can help them resource the best talent quickly, without the challenge of mining through hundreds of online applicants themselves.

A Private Affair

If you’re searching for a new job, the last person you want finding out is your current employer. Job boards, however, leave candidates wide open to discovery, and companies are known to fish around the internet to see who is planning to leave their payroll for other opportunities. With a recruiter, you’ll have the confidentiality of a professional who understands that you prefer discretion.

A Focused Approach

Not only will a capable recruiter lead you to jobs that are not in the public domain, they’ll also help you target specific companies that are a fit with your skills and goals. They also will be more likely to have an understanding of the cultures inherent in these businesses, so you can be aligned with an organization that will feel like home. Because, as we said, your goal should be enriching your career path, not just landing a job.

A True Investment

Run, don’t walk, from any recruiter who tries to charge you for service. Great recruiters make their money from companies enlisted to find talent. Thus, it’s important to find a recruiter who you feel has your best interests at heart and will truly go to bat for you. That kind of relationship can provide invaluable peace of mind as you wait for the right opportunity to become available.

So, what should a candidate look for in a recruiter? Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you seek out your recruiting partner:

  • Find a firm that has an experienced team. Years in business are a good litmus for measuring if a company has been doing the right things consistently over time. Also, a firm that boasts a cohesive team means more mindshare and collective human experience than an independent recruiter functioning in a silo.
  • Find a firm with a solid reputation. Ask around. Have they placed others you know? What does their client list look like? What companies do they serve? How are they regarded in the industry? Do they know their success rate?
  • Find a firm that will tell you what you need – not just want – to hear. That means finding someone willing to honestly compare you to the market and set expectations with you; someone you trust to give you candid feedback and tips designed to make you a more viable candidate.
  • Find a firm focused on the future. Again, you want someone to help you build your career, not just get your next job. A good recruiter will want to support a long term vision for the candidates they represent. That means even after they’ve placed you, they’ll remain your partner, ensuring you are happy where you are, and making you aware of other opportunities down the road if you ask them to do so.

It’s also worth mentioning: you should also actually LIKE your recruiter. This is someone that you will ideally partner with for years. Ask yourself: is this person someone you would grab coffee with?

Finding Your Fit

If you want to sit down with an interviewer for your dream job, your journey begins by doing your homework. Find recruiters who fit the criteria above and schedule a time to chat with them – better face-to-face but a phone call will work. Ask them the tough questions, do your due diligence and find out who the best fit for you is.

Not looking for a job right now? Perfect! This is the time to get started with a recruiter. Just as you want to have your own doctor before you get sick, you’ll want a relationship in place with a recruiter before you are contemplating a job transition.

If you have any questions about the recruiting process, please fill out the contact form below and we will be happy to follow up regarding your inquiry.

In our next installment, we’ll share insights on how companies can benefit from engaging a recruiter. (Hint: It’s not just about filling a position, it’s about partnering for long term success).

 

Planning on changing jobs? Here are the steps to take.

Planning on changing jobs? Here are the steps to take.

Changing Jobs?

Ten Steps to Consider…

It is a great time to think about a job change. The economy is strong. Unemployment is low. Salaries are high. Perhaps 2017 is your year to consider a job change.

But before you throw your hat in the ring, here are ten steps to consider as compiled by the team at Accountants One. We hope that insights from our 43 year-old Accounting and Financial Recruiting Firm bring you value.

Step 1 – Break out that old T-Chart

In Accounting you listed debits on the left and credits on the right of the T-Chart. In this version of the T-Chart you are creating a pro-con list – “reasons to stay” on the left, and “reasons to leave” on the right.

You might think this sounds basic, but you would not believe how many people start a job search without thinking it through. Some people don’t even really know what they are looking for out of their next position.

Sit down and take the time to list out the positives and the negatives of changing jobs. If you find that “reasons to stay” outweigh “reasons to leave” then commit to staying and making the most out of your current role. You have done your due diligence. You can move forward in your current job without looking back.

Be objective here. If you are mad at your boss because he or she turned down your request for a three week trip to Bora Bora during busy season, this might not be the best time to construct your T-Chart. Wait until you can be as rational as possible.

If you have an accountability partner, share your thoughts with them. Ask them to poke holes in your reasoning. Promise to listen with open and objective ears.

Once you have objectively filled out your pro-con T-Chart, you need to sit back and come to a carefully thought out conclusion. If you make the decision to change jobs, you are not done with your T-Chart. You are going to use it for inspiration to see through your decision. Keep it on hand because changing jobs is not going to be easy!

Step 2 – Map it out

Now that you have worked through your T-Chart, it is time to map out your plan of execution. Take time to do this thoroughly. Sit down at a desk. Whether you use pen and paper, laptop, or your phone, give it your full attention and allow yourself to become of one purpose.

Many people spend more time planning their next vacation than they do planning their career. Your career is probably the biggest investment of your life. You owe it to yourself to carefully manage your career on both a short and long-term basis.

Here are some questions for you to answer:

  • What am I good at in my job? What are my strengths? How can I do more of this?
  • Where do I bring value to the organization I work for? How can I do more of this?
  • What are my weaknesses? Do I want to lean away from my weaknesses or work to improve them in my next role?
  • What areas would I like to get into? Is there some area that I would like to explore in my next role?
  • What is my ideal NEXT title?
  • Management? Am I looking for more management experience? Less? The opportunity for management down the road?
  • What industries am I the best fit for? What industries interest me?
  • Size of the company? What is the right size of my next organization?
  • Public or Private?
  • My dream list – this is especially impactful – sit back and brainstorm. Ask: What are my top 10 companies? What companies have I always wanted to work for?
  • Am I ready to relocate for the right job? What cities?
  • Location? (I am writing this in Atlanta where a 15 mile commute may take 2 hours. Think about your location and your commute tolerance).
  • Salary? What is my ideal salary? Am I willing to go lateral or even take a salary hit to derive more meaning or change industries?

Note that we left salary for last. That was on purpose. Whether you believe it or not, at the end of the day salary isn’t what makes you happy. Sure, salary should be part of the total package, but so much more goes into building the career / life you deserve.

Mapping out a career trajectory also means you brush off that resume – clean it up. Do some research to make sure that your document is in line with current standards, and print it out on nice paper (yes, hiring managers still care about resumes on nice paper).

Step 3 – Start Your Career Journal

This may sound corny, but trust us on this. Get yourself a Career Journal and commit to it.

Open it up and start writing. Create the habit of writing for 5 minutes every day. This helps you to document your progress while keeping you focused on the BIG GOAL. You’ll use the Career Journal to help you remember why you started down the path and review your thinking when times get tough.

And by the way, the Career Journal doesn’t have to be anything fancy. We recommend one of those Mead Composition books that cost $1.80 at the drug store.

The purpose of the Career Journal is simply to document the path on which you are embarking. In reviewing your Career Journal you will be able to review your mistakes, but you will also be able to reflect upon the things you are doing well. You will be able to use it for inspiration as well as a place to work out your frustrations.

Step 4 – Stay Working

There are some people that quit their jobs in order to find a new job. From a best practices standpoint, this is not the best path. The reality is that the value of any candidate is higher when employed. For the sake of brevity we will leave off the economic, psychological and philosophical discussion that could easily sprout form this assertion. However, please trust our combined experience when we suggest that whenever possible it is best to stay employed.

If you have been laid-off or have recently re-entered the job market – take a flexible contract job and / or volunteer in your area of specialty. By showing that you are a valued member of the work force, your perceived value increases.

Step 5 – LinkedIn Coffees and Follow Up

It is time to get strategic! For the purpose of this article we limit social media references to LinkedIn, but there are other terrific sources for connecting to other professionals. The spirit of this strategy is the same.

Take your list of desired companies, and cross reference them through LinkedIn. You will find plenty of connections. For example, you might find that your neighbor works for one of your target companies. If that is the case, head next door to inquire.

Don’t ask for a job! Ask for help. Explain, confidentially, what you are doing and simply ask if they would make an intro to the highest ranking relevant person at their company. The point here is that if you are interested in being a Staff Accountant, ask for an introduction to the CFO. If you are interested in a Social Media Position, ask for an introduction to the Director of Marketing.

If you do your LinkedIn Search, and there is a person that you knew in college, but haven’t talked to in a decade – don’t worry about it. Reach out. Buy them a cup of coffee, reconnect, and then ask them to make an introduction.

Let your old friend know that all you need from them is a statement like this: “I have a resume from an old college friend of mine. They reconnected with me recently because they saw that I work here. If it makes sense for you (CFO/Director/etc.), they’d be interested in an open ended conversation regarding our organization.”

Follow up both with the person that made the introduction and the person who might be making hiring decisions. Note that you are still not looking for a job. You are only interested in an open ended, exploratory discussion. You are simply looking for advice.

Once you get that meeting, don’t forget the person who connected you. At a minimum a nice thank you note or email is expected. A nice bottle of wine, a gift card, or tickets to a concert are really classy. 

Step 6 – Invest in a Relationship with a Recruiter

Alright, I know this sounds self-serving. After all, we are Accountants One- a Recruiting and Staffing Firm that has been placing Accounting and Financial Professionals since 1973, but take that off the table for a minute. There are good and bad recruiters just as there are good and bad lawyers, realtors, fishing guides, financial planners, and chimney sweeps. The same is true of the recruiting profession.

Great recruiters care about your career. They certainly also care about fees, but the good ones are interested in long-term relationship building. The best recruiters understand that sticking the wrong person in a job just to collect a fee is bad business.

At our firm we have a saying, “we will try and talk you into an interview, but never a career.” We think this is a great mantra in terms of defining the intentions of an ethical and effective recruiter. There is nothing wrong with exploring an opportunity, but stay clear from those recruiters that attempt to talk you into a job that doesn’t fit with your goals.

The benefit of a great recruiter is that they can confidentially introduce you to a host of trusted contacts that would take you years to establish on your own. The right recruiter for you should have contacts at your target companies. To test the water, ask them who they know and what kind of placements they have made to your target client list.

As recruiters, we love it when we work with a candidate that knows what they want. Having clear goals is incredibly helpful. Our networks can be extremely beneficial to a person who has a clear job search path. In fact, chances are we can allow a great candidate to continue focusing on their current role, while making confidential introductions behind the scenes.

We suggest building relationships with recruiters far before you actually need one. The founder of our firm, Bert Erling, used to say, “The worst time to hire a doctor is when you need one.” The same is true for recruiters. Invest today so that when it is time for you to transition you have a trusted relationship.

Step 7 – Research

Every company has strengths and weaknesses. Make sure you are knowledgeable about both. As you are moving through the process of aligning yourself with another organization, be a data collector. Learn as much as you can about specific companies, specific departments, and specific managers.

A great fit in a company should be 75% culture and 25% technical. Spend time with the technical – you want to make sure you are happy doing the day-to-day work, but more importantly investigate culture. Certainly Glassdoor.com and other similar resources are a great place to start, but you also want to do your due diligence – talking confidentially to as many people as possible.

Here are a list of cultural questions we suggest you have answered before you consider making a leap:

  • How are decisions made – by consensus or leadership?
  • How do people relate to each other – in a formal or informal manner?
  • Does the organization value consistency of procedures or flexibility?
  • Is the company innovative or does it stick to its core offerings?
  • Are employees people who seek meaning in their work or resources hired to do what the company wants them to do?
  • Teamwork or individual contribution?
  • World of competing rivals or cooperation and partnerships?
  • Is the emphasis on short term or long-term value for the stakeholders?
  • Are people expected to get things done from the office or are business objectives clarified with employees getting things done in whatever manner works best for them?
  • Dress code?
  • Vacation policy?
  • Expected weekly hours?
  • Benefits?
  • Bonus potential?
  • Corporate giving – commitment to the community?

There is no BEST Corporate Culture. What matters is how YOU connect. If you are a “teamwork” person, and you find the organization that you are interested in has a philosophy of siloed individual production, then you owe it to yourself to ask some very serious questions. Dig in now, because we have found that the number one reason that people regret a job change is corporate culture.

You will also want to research the person that you would be reporting to. Each organization has a centralized culture, but different departments or divisions can manifest variations on that culture, depending on leadership.

Here are a few questions you should answer in regards to leadership:

  • What is the track record of hiring success? What is the tenure of the department?
  • What is the growth trajectory of people within the department? How quickly do they move up in responsibility and title?
  • Potential manager’s previous experience and reputation?
  • Management style?
  • Leadership style?

Step 8 – Stay Focused

Changing jobs is tough work. Many people describe the job transition process as similar to training for, and then running a marathon. You have to master many small difficult tasks on a consistent basis in order to be ready for the big day.

It is easy to let your goal of changing jobs get swept away by the daily grind. Post that T-Chart at home in a spot that you will see on a daily basis. Stay true to your Career Journal, and every day make sure that you are taking steps to get closer to your BIG GOAL.

Step 9 – Keep Score

Set mini-milestones for yourself. For example, your goal may be two exploratory coffees per week. Make it happen. Keep track of your activity. After all, it is the activity that will come together to produce the results.

Connect that activity to a physical reality – in other words, actively write down your mini-milestones in your Career Journal. Celebrate those milestones with a “self-pat on the back.” This could be a visit to the mall, a hike in the woods, a game of ping pong, or an hour of NetFlix – whatever works for you. But if you don’t take the time to thank yourself you might fizzle out.

In the case of your job search, your larger goal is the interview. This means moving from open ended discussions to focused discussions about you joining the team. Trust that if you are keeping up with your mini-milestones, these larger milestones will naturally occur.

As you get closer to the BIG GOAL, don’t forget those “self-pats on the back.” As you get closer to your goal, and you deserve to enjoy every win! Keep score and celebrate that victory.

Step 10 – Don’t Lose Your Nerve

While there is a whole world of material surrounding interview preparation (we have some great resources in this area), the main purpose of this article is to illuminate a strategy for changing jobs in 2017. With our many years of watching the hiring process, our goal was to give you a plan that would lead to results.

Of course, sometimes it takes multiple interviews with multiple companies to find your right match. Other times you can get lucky and connect with the right company on the first interview. If you have done your preliminary work effectively you will know both intellectually and at a gut level that you have connected with the right organization.

But here is where it gets REAL! You have done all this work. Up to now it has been an intellectual endeavor. Now you have to face the reality of telling your current boss that you are leaving! Don’t underestimate the difficulty of this action.

Research shows that the three most stressful life experiences are: 1) death of a spouse, 2) divorce, and 3) changing jobs! Let that sink in. Changing jobs is #3! This may come as a surprise, but what those three life events have in common is change. Change is often scary and yes, painful. So get ready for your brain to make all kinds of rationalizations: “my current job is really not so bad.” “I am just too important to my current company – I can’t leave them high and dry.” “I bet that opportunity to manage my own team is going to happen really soon.”

Don’t lose your nerve, just refocus. Go back to that T-Chart. Go back to your Career Journal. Go back to your accountability partner and face the unknown with certainty. If you have done your coffees, and collected solid data you can rest assured that you are making the right decision.

I hope you found these ten steps for securing a new job in 2017 helpful and emboldening. If you read this, and it helped you realize that the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, we are delighted. If you are inspired to change jobs, then know that while the road may not be easy, if you have your destination in mind, you are in for a wonderful and rewarding adventure.

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