Reflecting back on my career predictably brings many ‘sliding doors’ moments where I could easily have ended up on a different path.
While there is inevitably serendipity in life, I believe that on the whole, your career should be about timing and opportunity. Making the time to notice – and then to seize – these opportunities will reap great rewards.
It’s not uncommon, in these hyper-connected times, for the working week to overlap into family life (or vice versa). It’s difficult to pursue your individual goals in amongst this, and scheduling time to do so can often take weeks of advance planning. Most people see this and then give up on the idea until some quiet time reveals itself.
That said, if you’re thinking about a career change but don’t have the time to dedicate to it, then all is not lost. There are some simple steps you can take with a view to creating this time, and I’ve tried to outline as many of them as possible in this blog.
I’ve divided this into two sections: passive (before you start researching) and active (once research has begun):
Before you begin your job search (passive)
1. Procrastination is not an option
Let’s be blunt – any time spend unfocused is going to hurt your chances. Instead of social media during your commute or taking a relaxed lunch break, why not spend this time researching relevant companies or updating your work documents? Anywhere other than your work desk is potential research time – so use it.
2. Know what you’re after
Never rush into your job search and never ‘scattergun’ your applications. This might feel productive because your numbers are high, but a smaller amount of well-considered, detailed applications will increase your chances significantly. So, before you embark on the hunt itself, take the time to reflect upon what direction your ambitions and your skills should take you. Consider the following:
- What are your key strengths?
- What kind of role would these strengths best lend themselves to?
- Which applicable industries are doing well and which aren’t?
- Where would you like to be in a few years’ time?
It is also helpful to check in with any mentors/friends about these too, as we’re not always the fairest judges of ourselves! Family or friends outside of work are probably the best people to approach – you don’t want to risk your employer discovering your plan.
3. Get quick access to your key information
You will save a lot of time by having all your personal information readily available across all of your devices. By making sure your online profiles as well as your CV are all at hand, you can share them on the fly rather than having to ‘get back to someone’. (note: you can find some great tips on your online brand here, and we’ve also got some tips on refining your CV).
You can also save yourself a great deal of time by creating a few varied CV templates. How many of these you prepare will naturally depend on the scope of your job search. Create a loose CV for each role and then tailor them when applying to specific employers.
4. Cultivate your network
This should be a constant consideration for most professionals, but a large and lively network of contacts (particularly on LinkedIn) means your new job might come looking for you! Grow your network by connecting with relevant contacts and sharing relevant insights, as well as attending industry events which are of interest.
A note here - you don’t want your employer to be aware of your intentions to leave, so keep it casual. A great way to do this quietly is by asking an existing contact if they might be able to recommend you an opportunity or employer.
Once you’ve started researching (active)
1. Schedule your day
When are you most productive? The average person is most productive during the first two hours after waking up, so perhaps wake up an hour earlier than you otherwise would and get job hunting. With so much achievable on a phone now, your commute to and from work, your lunch break, and even cooking dinner can all be opportunities for this.
2. Only chase the ‘ideal’ roles
The internet is your friend during this process; it has entirely revolutionised the way we job search, and sped the whole procedure up immeasurably.
Save yourself and your recruiter time by only applying for positions that are relevant to your skillset, and which you have a real interest in. Recruiters examine job applications for a living and will realise if you’ve not put much effort into the process. Remember that submitting a few well-considered applications will land you a job much quicker than churning out a large number of hurried ones.
3. Keep your records
Collate all the jobs that appeal to you and then prioritise your applications according to which ones interest you most. Make sure to keep a record of all the positions you’ve applied for, how you applied and what sort of responses you received. This is helpful both for monitoring the status of the application, as well as refining your strategy around which approach worked best.
Keeping these tips in mind should help you realise that there is more time (and less wastage) than you might think required in your search. Keep your house in order, and stay in touch with your recruiter, and your search will be effective.
For more information or to discuss your recruitment needs, please contact your local consultant.
About this author
Mark joined Hays in 1985 as a trainee consultant. In 2000, he launched Hays Education with just six recruiting experts. By 2007, it had become the market leading education recruitment consultancy in the UK with a turnover of £70m, and employing 250 staff. He was appointed as Managing Director of Hays Midlands in 2011, and in 2015 was also appointed Regional Managing Director of Hays City of London business, based in Cheapside.