Some people are serial job seekers; they find themselves in the market for a job every few years. Unless you are the victim of unfortunate economic circumstances (which many have been), you may want to take a look at how you operate. Here are a few tips to avoid moves that can limit your career options.
Choose a path. I often see people who have no discernible pattern to their employment. Although it is attractive to have transferrable skill sets, prospective employers want to see a track record of success. You may not know exactly what it is that you would 'like to be when you grow up,’ but try to think about how your next career move affects the story you are telling. In some cases it is great to be a “Jack of all trades”; however, each time you make a move into a different industry or job function, you will most likely have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Think about how much easier it would be to progress to the next level of your career and become a subject-matter expert in a particular field. People who tell a consistent and progressive story on their resume, whether it’s in HR, Sales, Accounting or Not-for-Profit, are the people who get phone calls from recruiters.
Stay put. Again, you may not know your exact career path from day one. You might have always dreamed of being a marketing guru and started what you believed to be the perfect job, only to find out after six months that you actually completely dislike Twitter. Perhaps you do this a few more times with eight months here, one year there, and two years at another company. To a prospective employer, this says “cannot commit.” Avoiding career ADD is difficult, especially because most of us are not of the generation that stays at one company for thirty years and calls it a career. Rule of Thumb: stay a minimum of one year; but if you have to make a move, prepare to settle in at the next job for at least three years.
Never Burn a Bridge. This is crucial, especially in a smaller city, where everyone seems to be about two degrees of separation; it is so important to maintain your relationships. You just never know who could be a future employer, co-worker, or reference of client. Try to work through your issues; don’t simply get frustrated and quit your job or get angry and ‘fire your client.’ Reputation is almost as important as competency; if you burn too many bridges, it doesn’t matter how great you are if no one wants to work with you.
I hope these tips will cause you to think a little harder about the story you are telling with your career. It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what it is you want to do. If this is the case, I would suggest going on a ‘fact finding mission.’ Seek out people that you respect who are doing a job you find interesting. Ask them what they do on a day-to-day basis and what their career story looks like. This is a great way of gaining intel into a particular job without actually having to commit to it.
Allyson England is a Recruitment Coordinator at Meridia, a Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette company in Halifax. Meridia is Atlantic Canada's leading contingency recruitment firm that is focused on providing high quality, fast turnaround recruitment for professional and technical positions.