Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last six months, you’ve probably heard mention of the ‘Great Resignation’.
Millions of people are quitting their jobs post-pandemic – some leaving the workforce all together, and many more looking to change their job or move career.
According to economists, the Great Resignation is a worldwide event. In the USA, over four million people have quit their jobs according to the Department of Labour. In the UK, job vacancies have soared to over a million for the first time.
HR software company Personio suggested that in the UK and Ireland, around 38% of those employees plan to quit in the next six months to a year. Moreover, a Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 global workers showed that 41% of workers were considering quitting or changing professions in the next twelve months.
In the language of the pandemic, the level of job-switching and mass quitting may seem unprecedented. But when you think about it, so much of the last eighteen months has revolved around our work – and like so many other areas of life, we’ve been forced to think about it in very different ways. Suddenly, how much time we spend doing our jobs has been thrown into sharp relief.
We’ve reconsidered our roles – and our employers – in the light of our priorities and values. And whilst those jobs may have seen us through the pandemic, not all of them are ones that we want to commit to for the rest of our careers.
It’s also fair to say that many people experienced burnout as a result of the pandemic and working from home. With the boundaries between work and personal life blurred beyond recognition, finding a healthy routine and sustainable balance has been harder than ever – and many have decided that now is the time to take a much-needed career break.
As Ross Seychell, Chief People Officer at Personio said, “It’s not surprising that people are looking to move roles as the economy improves, as many people have stayed put and put job changes on hold while the labour market was more uncertain.”
“However, now, as the economy recovers and people have more confidence in the job market, not only will people have more opportunity and confidence to leave their jobs for pastures new, but burnout and frustration with lack of employer support during the pandemic may push them out the door.”Ross Seychell, Chief People Office ar Personio
Now if any of this sounds familiar – if you’re thinking of handing in your notice or if you’ve already done so and now need to pursue a job hunt – then we’re sure you’ve got some questions.
Like what can you do to make yourself stand out from the thousands of others who are also switching jobs right now? How do you choose where to go? Or is it really possible to gauge things like culture and lifestyle when so much is still remote? What about if now is really the right time for change?
Here we have some ideas for you as well as tips from the experts.
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1. How to know if it’s time to switch jobs.
There are many reasons to consider a role change or job change, or even a shift in career.
Perhaps you’re a technologist thinking about retraining as a teacher, a marketer who wants to open a deli, or someone with a nine-to-five who’d prefer the flexibility of freelance work.
Perhaps you simply feel stuck in a rut where you are, are looking for a new challenge, or want a promotion that you can’t achieve where you are.
As Kate Ng writes in the Independent, “The shift in priorities varies from person to person. For some, lockdown allowed them to put their families before work, while for others, it made them realise life’s too short to stay in a job they don’t love.”
The fact is most of us want to feel fulfilled and challenged in our jobs – particularly as we enter our prime earning and spending years. We want to feel not only that we’re developing in terms of skills, understanding and so on, but we also want to be in roles where we can thrive.
When we’re not feeling these things, we feel like we can’t thrive in our role. It impacts all areas of our lives, leaving us dissatisfied and stressed. But really the question of whether it’s time for you to take a holiday, arrange a career break, or look for a new job comes down to questions around your current role, employer, and sector.
2. How to make your CV stand out.
Given just a quarter of CVs are ever read by a human, according to Richard Poulin, author of Resume Hacking, it’s essential to craft a competitive CV – this means not just thinking about your credentials but how you present and format them too.
Tailor your CV, not just your cover letter
Everyone knows that best practice when job hunting isn’t just to send the same letter and resumé to every potential company on your list. You need to tailor them for every application, making sure that all key details are front and centre.
One trick here can be to think of the job spec as a comprehension paper, with your CV addressing each of the requirements in response. Draw on the same language, reflect their needs back to them and how you can answer them.
“This sounds really basic and simple but trust me, so many people just don’t do it,” says Shoshanna Davis, founder of the Fairy Job Mother (@thefairyjobmother). “But recruiters can tell from a mile off when somebody has made zero effort. When there are hundreds of applications to go through, recruiters are looking for quick reasons to say no, so make sure your CV has the right information and highlights exactly what the company is looking for.”
Make sure you highlight your experience
If you’re applying for a role, I’m going to hazard a guess and say that you know you have the qualifications and skills for the job (or at least 75% of it). You also suspect that you’d be a good fit and hope that the same goes for the company. You need to emphasise why in your CV – for example, including a core skills section to give an instant snapshot of your talents can be an invaluable way to quickly show why someone should bring you into the room for an interview.
Use examples where possible
This is particularly useful stats or figures that prove your value. This could be related to business development or results that you’re able to publicly share, the whole point is simply to show the tangible impact you have made and could do so again.
Reach out directly
Finally, Davis notes that you can also stand out by reaching out directly. “Linkedin is incredible. You can find any person in any role at any company – use this to your advantage,” she says. “Reach out directly to recruiters and hiring managers and let them know exactly what value you bring and why you are a great candidate.
Make sure you have a complete LinkedIn profile with a key-word optimised headline so that recruiters can also find you.”
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3. How to find the right post-pandemic job for you.
Finding the right job opportunity is almost never simple – even more so if you’re considering a step change into a completely different field.
Start by asking yourself questions about what you liked and disliked about your last job
Was your team an issue or was it more to do with the company? What about the role or sector?
Also consider your values
How did the job align with the things you care about and prioritise? Once you’ve considered these elements, you can work out what kind of job you’re looking for – because it won’t just be a title. It’ll be the opportunity to use certain skills and knowledge, the freedom to work in a certain way and grow into new things.
Speaking to a recruiter can also help
If you’re able to speak to them candidly about the sort of things you’re interested in and give them a steer on your values as well, then a good recruiter will be able to sift through the opportunities available and match you to places that should be a good fit.
The key here is to take your time and be picky about the recruiters you work with. Good recruiters will listen to your needs and work with you to find the right thing, rather than foist a whole load of jobs on you that don’t actually meet your criteria.
4. How to gauge workplace culture remotely.
Remote working has so many benefits, but it’s fair to say that remote interviews aren’t one of them. Without the contextual clues of coming into an office, seeing what the place is like and how people are working, it’s very hard to see what kind of culture a company has.
Start by assessing the language used in job descriptions
Does the way that they’re speaking about the job appeal to you? Compare this to their core values if this is available to you. Do your research and be truthful about what kind of role you really want. If words like “fast-paced” and “self-starting” send up red-flags, perhaps look for companies where the emphasis is perhaps on “health” and “balance” instead.
Before interviews, ask yourself what culture you would thrive in and what values you subscribe to
You can then use these to talk to your interviewers about their culture and see how that aligns to your needs too. This is particularly useful if you have more than one interview with different people – if you ask similar questions, you can see if their cultural values sound aligned or if the team is more disjointed.
Some questions that can help include:
- “What does success look like for an employee in this role?”
- “What are you proud of about the culture / team here? What would you change if you could?”
- “How are you working to hire diverse and culturally intelligent teams?”
- “Can you tell me about a time where you’ve seen your workplace culture at play?”
Shoshanna Davis of The Fairy Job Mother also reminds us not to forget the great information available online. “Websites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn are great for learning more about what an employer’s culture is really like. If you really feel unsure, try reaching out to ex-employees – people are usually more than happy to help.”
Whether the time is right to switch jobs is a matter of your perspective.
The important thing is to consider your options, to review the opportunities that come your way and your timeline for moving.
If you’re interested in taking a career break before reentering the job market, then you may also find it useful to read our article about sabbaticals and extended time off. If you’re more focused on an immediate change, then hopefully this article has given you food for thought.
Ultimately, only you can decide if you want to embrace the Great Resignation and change your job – and even your life and lifestyle.
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