I just had my year-end review at my job, and it’s had me thinking a lot about what a wild ride my work life has been over the past couple of years. I left a job I’d had for years for a new role in the same company; gave it six months; absolutely hated it; stepped down to a different role; then three weeks later quit altogether for a new company!
I went from a role, schedule and company I’d known for nearly a decade, to a completely new schedule, doing a new type of work, at a new company. To say it was a major change is an understatement!
It sounds like I made some fast moves there, but I really didn’t. I had applied for several jobs in February and March 2018. I just didn’t actually get to put in my notice until nearly mid-April. I’d actually been job-hunting off and on for years. I was fed up with lots of things about the culture at my job and didn’t feel I was being paid enough, but I stayed on, year after year.
Why? Basically, change terrified me. There was a constant list of what ifs that ran through my head: what if I dislike the work? What if the schedule sucks? What if my boss is a jerk? And before all that, there’s the most frightening of prospects, the dreaded job interview.
They say you can’t make a move until the discomfort of sticking with something outweighs the discomfort of the change, and that was so true for me. I was unhappy at my job for years before I left. Now I wish I’d made the switch sooner! If I could tell my younger self something about switching jobs, I would say that it doesn’t have to be scary, as long as you follow these tips.
Brush up on your resume and communication skills.
There are so many resources online (just browse Pinterest) to help you format your resume and polish your e-mail skills. There’s just no excuse for sending a poorly worded resume or not replying professionally to an email from a potential employer.
I initially struggled to craft my resume because it was largely taken up by a single employer; I had one other part-time seasonal job to list, and two from high school that were no longer in business. But I highlighted the different positions I’d held with that main employer, and put a positive emphasis on how I’d worked my way up over the years in the company.
I also highlighted the work skills that I knew would translate best to the types of jobs I was applying for, since I didn’t have previous experience in those specific fields. Prior to my current job I had never worked in the financial industry, but I did bring with me a decade of strong customer service experience and communication skills. I also highlighted the importance of daily compliance checks in my old role as a supervisor, since obviously the ability to follow practices to the letter is important if you’re going to work in banking!
Observe good interview etiquette.
The old saying “dress for the job you want” exists for a reason; it shows you’re taking the interview seriously. If everyone at the job dresses uber-fashionably, or wears jeans and boots, let that be your guide; otherwise, when in doubt, you can’t go wrong with slacks, a blazer, and ballerina pumps. Don’t wear strong perfume (in case your interviewer has allergies), cover tattoos as much as possible, and wear comfy shoes in case you have an impromptu tour of the job site!
It goes without saying, but: be on time for the interview, silence your cell phone, don’t chew gum, don’t swear…but I don’t have to tell you all that, right? Riiiiiiiight?
As for communicating with your potential employers, be courteous. Their time is valuable, so answer phone calls and emails promptly. Post-interview, it’s great to send a follow-up email or note to thank them for their time.
Practice your interview questions.
These are tough for one of two different reasons: either it’s a bland question and you’re struggling to come up with a colorful example, or it’s a question that makes you squirm. I can’t over-recommend searching “tough interview questions” on Pinterest for some ideas about the off-the-wall questions you might encounter.
A few pointers I want to throw out here. First, employers sometimes ask you for examples of situations you encountered in a previous job, but you may not have any. If so, it’s fine to admit that you don’t have a work-related example, but you do have one from a school or volunteer experience.
Second, if you’re asked to describe something you struggled with in your last job, be honest, but reinforce that it was a learning experience and you gained ____ in the process. Grace and positivity are key.
Third, prep a few questions of your own. You’ll probably be asked if you have any questions about the position and/or the company. This is a great time to ask things like “What growth opportunities will I have in this job?” or “How would you describe the culture at this job?” It shows that you’re interested in sticking around for the long-term.
Do you have any tips for switching to a new job? What’s the toughest interview question you’ve ever been asked (and how did you respond)? What wild job-related stories do you have to share?
(image by RawPixel via Unsplash)