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Want to switch jobs? Do these things first

on Wednesday, October 29, 2014
This article was first published in Marketwatch on October 28, 2014
Sital Patel (@Sital) interviewed me on how to start a job search in the current environment, and be innovative about it....
As the job market improves, it’s tempting to jump at the next best offer. But career coaches say don’t jump before considering some important factors.
Stalk trends, and be the panther in your job search!
Illustration: Srushti Hebbar
“We work on a series of assumptions at work and at home,” said the career coach. 
Before making any dramatic changes, focus on what you are doing, what you want to change and what the best way is to change that, said Roopa Unnikrishnan, career consultant with Center10 Consulting.
“Be ready to make the jump by looking at the options out there and the capabilities you have been building over the last few years,” says the career coach. 
Unnikrishnan says there are a few important steps to consider before taking a leap.

Evaluate your situation

Before you do anything, you need to dig deep and understand your situation and why you want to switch jobs, said Unnikrishnan. Ask yourself whether your lack of fulfillment in the situation you are in or the lack of motivation from yourself to make the most of the opportunities presented by the role you’re in, said Unnikrishnan. “Be thoughtful about your current situation.” You don’t want to leave opportunities on the table. In digging deep, if it turns out it’s time for you to leave, you have your motivations and goals clearly thought out for when you speak to a potential employer, she said. It will be a more thoughtful story, where you have learned, delivered, can do more, says the career coach. Figure out what you are passionate about. “When push comes to shove, it helps to be convinced about the product or service you are providing or interested in.”

Assess your capabilities and passion

Next, ask yourself if you have the capabilities and passion to stay and grow in your work at your current job, says Unnikrishnan. Capabilities are divided into emotional and technical. Emotional capabilities are about working with people. Technical skills are about being able to do the core of what you want to do. “It can’t just be about a job on LinkedIn that has your search terms in it,” said Unnikrishnan. “What you want to do is it start from a core of “what am I here to do on this planet.” When looking at a position, think about whether the job could be done better, faster and maybe even cease to exist at some point. “With every move, you are making some bets,” said the career coach. “You are going in wanting to believe it will work out, but put on a skeptical hat” before you take it.

Be like a panther

Third, Unnikrishnan says visualize yourself as a panther. It’s about watching and waiting, she said. Once you have realized what you’re passionate about and what your goals are, stalk the trends and gather information, she says. It’s impossible to know everything out there, but look at trends around you that pertain to your career, she says. Whether you are talking to people, reading the papers, walking down the street, it’s about recognizing trends. For example, if you can’t go to industry conferences, look up the agenda and look at the topics of discussion for trend ideas in your space, says Unnikrishnan. “But don’t expect it to happen in a moment. This is about 25 things happening over time, that will [lead to] your light bulb moment,” said Unnikrishnan. Once you start seeing trends that could affect your career, ask the question: Why is this relevant? Why could this be relevant? Says Unnikrishnan.

Start the job hunt

Once you have done all of this, then you can hunt, said Unnikrishnan. Pretend you have been offered the job and think about what a week in that position would look like, she said. Consider what the routine of your day will look like so when you go into an interview, you can ask the questions that you need to, said Unnikrishnan. Don’t just focus on achieving a bunch of goals, think about how it all will work together. Imagine what your life will be like and if you’ll like it. “If you like to do things fast, maybe a start-up is the right place for you,” she said. 
The last step is to “live it,” says Unnikrishnan. Network, meet up with people in the industry to gather more information, she says. And don’t just ask them to tell you about it, have them walk you through it so you get it, adds the career coach. Start living in the space before you start actually looking for a job in that space, said Unnikrishnan. For example, if you are interested in a chief innovation role, look up the top five chief innovators on LinkedIn and talk to them . You must build a relationship with them before you can ask them to spend the time with you, said Unnikrishnan. “You can really test and be ready in a much more meaningful way for your new role.”


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