If you want a new job talk to the cat

leadership Jul 04, 2022

Maybe it’s the effect of the pandemic and working from home but lately I’ve been talking to an increasing number of people who are looking for a new challenge. All of them are smart, successful people but many of them have not looked for a job in many years so this is a step into the unknown.  This advice is for them.

Where do you start when looking for a new job?

It’s obvious, isn’t it?  Polish the CV, go and talk to a head-hunter or two and wait for the interviews to roll in. This is the wrong place to start.  Generally, you either find yourself in a job you really don’t want, or you find that the job you dreamed of just doesn’t exist. For many people, (even senior and experienced people) looking for a new job is a frightening experience. Many have not interviewed for years. Often they have been promoted to more senior roles internally and the idea of having to sell themselves is daunting.

  1. Why are you looking for another job?

There are two audiences for this question. One is a future employer/headhunter; the other is you. You need be sure that you want to, or have to, move. Possible reasons might be:

  • You have lost faith in your company’s strategy
  • There is a reorganisation, and your role is disappearing
  • You have learnt all you can in your current role/company, and you need to move on
  • There are external reasons (partner/location etc.)

Before you make your move be sure that you have good reasons for doing so.

The grass is not always greener.  Are there ways of making your current job more interesting?  Could you make your life outside the job more interesting to compensate?  Would a sabbatical recharge your batteries.

If your conclusion is that you must leave for good reasons then make sure you can talk about those reasons in a positive way. If your departure has been bitter, and rather public, make sure you have got over the bitterness and can be gracious before you go job hunting. Do not be like the ex-CEO I spoke to a few months ago who managed to spend half an hour explaining to me exactly why he had left and how badly treated he had been. It may be how you feel, but it’s not attractive to a potential employer.

  1. Think through what type of role you are looking for?

You need to be specific and realistic. Do not under or over-value yourself.  Do not think about roles for which you are only loosely/not qualified. Look at your skills and your experience and write down what your strengths and great experiences and achievements are and then rehearse talking about each of them.  Talk to a mirror, talk to the cat; or if you can, find another human being who will listen to your rehearsal.  You can never practice enough.

Now you should be in a position where you can talk confidently about yourself and your past experience, and convincingly about why you want a new job and in particular why you want this new job.