There is a noticeable increase in the number of executives reaching out to us to discuss the job market. Select market turbulence appears to be among the culprits.
At some juncture in these discussions, attention turns to the executives’ desired path going forward. In some instances the individuals are impressively prepared, thoughtful and laser-focused. They crisply answer every conceivable where, why and how question posed to them. In other instances however, executives ramble through a seemingly haphazard collection of desired roles, contexts and industries, some ringing plausible, others not. To be fair, for some, this ‘spray and pray’ approach is an attempt at hedging should the job market prove challenging. They want to generate multiple opportunities from which to consider, whether they are likely to be considered strong candidates or not. The reality for others however is that their scattered approach is a symptom of the struggle to navigate a transition where few resources are readily available by which to prepare.
If you are facing or contemplating a job transition, consider some of the following issues before venturing into the market…
Money: Ask yourself how important financial considerations will be to your next job decision. If a certain compensation level is a key consideration this will force you down certain decision paths and options. It will also dissuade you from looking at certain jobs, or possibly even sectors such as not-for-profit. It will also temper your decision-making if you are considering switching industries, a move that often requires an initial step down in responsibility or pay as you learn a whole new world.
Meaning: How important is the sector in which you will work, the products or services the company offers? Some executives tell us they are tired of working for companies whose products or services mean nothing to them. Others specifically want more ‘purposeful’ work, perhaps with a focus on the environment, healthcare or public service. If meaning is an important consideration going forward this will guide your search process and the decisions you take. If meaning matters a great deal, and money less so, then firms like Habitat for Humanity or Environmental Defence become intriguing possibilities.
Security: Executives love or hate the roller coaster world of high risk start-ups. Some find the ride exhilarating while others frightening. The latter may be willing to trade money or meaning for security. Executives coming from long careers at large companies will often admit that they prefer the security of such entities and covet similar organizations going forward. Security is often tied to life stage, the realities of children, tuition and mortgages. It is a variable to be considered carefully before applying concurrently to both early stage start-ups and Canada Post.
Leisure: Our family cottage is located in the Gatineau Hills just outside of Ottawa. Many of our neighbors work in the public sector. While they may or may not enjoy the work they do (like everyone else), there are certain undeniable lifestyle considerations that have factored into their career choices. These include defined hours of work, generous vacations, rich benefits, pensions and on and on. While the tech sector executives and consultants in the neighborhood regularly burn late night candles, many of their public sector neighbors can be found skiing or cycling alongside their families. How important are such considerations to you in your next job and what trade-offs are you prepared to make for them?
Passion and Interest: Identifying and pursuing a career that aligns with your passions and interests can lead to a more fulfilling and engaging professional life. When you genuinely enjoy the work you do, it becomes easier to stay motivated, learn continuously, and achieve excellence in your field. Are there emerging fields that attract you?
Skills and Strengths: Assessing your skills and strengths is essential to understand how well a particular career matches your abilities. A career that leverages your natural talents can lead to better performance, increased job satisfaction, and quicker career advancement. Take stock of what those are. Then, talk to people who know you, have worked with you and whose opinion you value to get validation of those skills, strengths and development needs. Ask them what they suggest as a next step for you and why. Does this align with your self assessment?
Work Environment and Culture: The work environment and company culture will impact your overall job satisfaction. Consider whether the workplace values what you value, be it collaboration, innovation, decision-making, diversity, and/or a healthy work-life balance. An aligned work environment contributes to your professional growth and well-being.
Opportunities for Growth and Advancement: A successful career is often characterized by continuous growth and learning. Assess how important such opportunities are for you when considering your next step.
Ethical Considerations: Consider whether the career/company/industry aligns with your ethical values and principles. Working in a sector that conflicts with your moral compass can lead to internal conflict and dissatisfaction. Think this through beforehand.
Geographic Location: The location of your work can impact your overall quality of life. Consider whether the career requires you to relocate, and assess whether the new location aligns with your lifestyle preferences and family needs. Also carefully consider the benefits and costs of joining an organization remote from where you reside.
Health and Well-being: A career that takes a toll on your physical and mental health is not sustainable in the long run. Prioritize careers that promote well-being and allow you to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Future Trends and Industry Outlook: It’s important to consider the future prospects of the industry you’re entering. Is the industry growing, stable, or facing potential disruption? Understanding the trajectory of your chosen field can help you make a more informed decision.
Considering issues such as these can help immensely in planning your path forward. It also pays dividends when asked to explain one’s rationale, as that heavy lifting has already been done. More focused, effective and impressive, you will increase the chances of your transition being short and the position you secure well aligned.