Episode #21 – The Best Time To Look for a New Position

The Best Time to look for a New Position

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help organizations acquire top talent, while helping professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about the best time to look for a new job. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, I’m glad to be here today.

Sharita: As we’ve done before on this podcast, today we’re going to shatter some of the conventional wisdom about the employment marketplace and the process of building your career. Specifically, we’re going to discuss how a professional should view their employment and when they should look for a new opportunity. It used to be that people worked for the same organization for nearly their entire career, but that it is certainly not the case anymore, is that right?

Stacy: That is 100% correct. The days of working for the same company for 30 or 40 years and retiring with a gold watch are definitely over. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that long-term employment at the same company can actually hurt your career!

Sharita: Hurt your career? How is that?

Stacy: It can hurt your career in a couple of different ways, and I have a case study that illustrates the first way.

I recently worked with a candidate who was with the same company for 17 years, but I had difficulty placing him because hiring managers were concerned that he would have a hard time adjusting to a new culture.

Since he had worked for the same organization his entire career, they believed that he had only seen things done one way and didn’t have the advantage of seeing how other companies operate and do things. I think that was something he wasn’t prepared for. More than likely, that would be the case for anybody who had worked for the same company for 17 years.

Companies no longer frown upon candidates who have changed jobs every three to five years. They used to call these people “job hoppers.” Now they view them in a positive light, and it’s the candidates who have worked for the same company for an extended period of time that they view with doubt.

Sharita: Wow, times certainly have changed. What’s another way that long-term employment could hurt your career?

Stacy: That would be the amount of compensation that a professional earns over the course of their career. Ever since the Great Recession ended, professionals who stayed at the same organization have received a 3% raise every year at best. However, when you factor in inflation, those raises are actually “cost of living raises.”

Sharita: What does that mean, a “cost of living raise”?

Stacy: It means that even though you received a raise, it was only enough to cover the rising cost of living. So in essence, you really didn’t receive a raise at all.

Sharita: So if you didn’t receive at least a 3% raise, then you are not really getting ahead?

Stacy: That’s exactly right. Unfortunately, there are some people who are not aware of these dynamics in the employment marketplace.

Sharita: Now I know that we’ve talked about this before in recent podcasts, but people who change jobs more frequently these days earn more than people who stay with the same organization. Why is that?

Stacy: Once again, it’s a matter of motivation.

In order to hire the candidates they want, companies must attract those candidates. This includes offering a salary and compensation package that is more than what the candidate is earning at their current employer, and in some cases, significantly more.

Not only that, but let’s say somebody changes jobs on a consistent basis, about every three to five years, in search of better opportunities and career advancement. Each time they move, they receive a salary increase from their new employer. That has a cumulative effect throughout their career.

Sharita: What kind of effect?

Stacy: It means that the “job hopper” could be earning $20,000 to $30,000 more per year in salary after making four job changes in 20 years than somebody who’s worked at the same company during those 20 years. And that is a conservative estimate.

In fact, in a recent podcast, we referenced an article in Forbes magazine that stated staying employed at the same company for over two years on average is going to make you earn less over your lifetime by 50% or more.

Yes, loyalty is noble, but times have also changed. Companies want talent and they’re willing to pay for that talent, especially if they have a need that must be met. Because of this trend, people who actively strive to enhance the scope of their career by seeking new opportunities every three to five years earn more in salary that those people who do not.

Sharita: So loyalty can actually hurt your career?

Stacy: Yes, in some cases, it can, especially if that loyalty is not warranted and the employee in question is not being adequately compensated for it.

Sharita: Now we know the rationale for wanting to be open to new opportunities. But is that the ideal timeframe, every three to five years? Is that the best time to look for a new job?

Stacy: The answer to that question is both “Yes” and “No.”

Sharita: How can that be the case?

Stacy: It is true that these days, people typically change jobs every three to five years. This is especially the case for the Millennial Generation. However, the best time to look for a new job is when you already have a good job. In other words, you should always be on the lookout for an employment opportunity that’s better than the one you currently have.

Let’s say you get a new job. Should you ignore all other opportunities until three to five years have gone by? Absolutely not. You might be ignoring great opportunities that could take your career to the next level.

Sharita: Some people still might be thinking that doesn’t make sense. If you already have a good job, why would you be looking FOR a job?

Stacy: It’s much better to take a strategic approach to a job search. Ideally, you want to conduct a job search while you’re already employed, even if you have what you consider a “good job.” That’s because when you have a good job, it’s much easier for you to find a great job.

When you have a job and you’re in a good employment situation, you have more leverage, you have more options, and you’re operating from a position of strength. When you don’t have a job, when you’re not in a good employment situation, or when you’re unemployed, you’re operating from a position of weakness.

When you operate from a position of weakness, you’re less likely to find a great employment opportunity and advance your career the way that you want to.

Sharita: So a lot of people wait until they don’t have a job to conduct any kind of job search?

Stacy: That is absolutely the case, and that’s the worst thing you can do. Nobody ever thinks that they’re going to lose their job, for whatever reason, but obviously it happens all the time. I have plenty of stories that relate to this, and I have a couple I’d like to share today.

In 2012, I reached out to a professional to see if they would be open to exploring other opportunities. They responded to my inquiry, but they didn’t respond until nearly four years later!

Why were they responding all of a sudden? Because they found out that they were losing their job with their current employer. At the very least, they saved my contact information. Now they needed a recruiter to help them find a new position.

When you wait and procrastinate and only start to network when you’re desperate, that is a reactive and short-sighted strategy. It does not position you well for career growth.

I have another example like this one. I once received a phone call from an individual who had been unemployed for approximately nine months. During the course of our conversation, I wondered why this person hadn’t contacted me nine months earlier.

This person had sent out numerous resumes to many different companies, but with no luck. They were now expecting me to help them find a job. This was made all the more difficult by the fact they had blasted their resume out with no results.

If the person had called me nine months ago before they had attempted to take matters into their own hands, I would have been in a much better position to help them.

Sharita: It seems like this is one of those issues that people only understand after the fact. It’s not until it’s too late that they realize they should have done things differently from the very beginning.

Stacy: That’s right! One of the best books written on this subject is Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty by bestselling author Harvey Mackay. This is a book that every professional needs to read. The title of the book says it all.

When you’re thirsty, you need water now. You don’t want to wait. In fact, by most estimates, you can only live three days without water. So in a literal sense, you would have to dig your well before you were thirsty or you run the risk of death.

In the figurative sense, when you need a job, you want a job now. However, just like digging a well, it takes time to find a job. It’s just isn’t going to fall into your lap because you’re suddenly unemployed or dissatisfied in your current position.

Sharita: So when you say “dig your well,” you’re talking about doing so in a professional sense?

Stacy: That’s right, it means networking and making an effort to see what opportunities exist in your industry and within the marketplace. It can also mean contacting an experienced recruiter in your industry.

Look at it this way: a recruiter can help you “dig your well.” Sure, you’re busy. Yes, you’re currently employed, so there’s no urgent need to look for a new opportunity. However, waiting until the situation is urgent is NOT advisable.

Sharita: So when is the best time to look for a new job?

Stacy: The best time is long before you need one. In fact, the answer is today, right now, because you never know what the future may hold.

Sharita: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!