Career challenges or change of environment: is it inside or outside?

Maybe you just need to create your own hurdle instead of looking out?

I approached a candidate on Linkedin about a job opportunity for one my clients. He was open to explore as he was looking for a change of job scope. He attended the first interview, which went well. He was shortlisted for the final interview quickly afterwards. However, he told me that he will not pursue his application anymore. Apparently, he accepted an internal role which he’s been waiting for some time to be confirmed. True enough, I checked his profile and he did took on that role. 

In hindsight, although I wanted to blame the candidate for wasting everyone’s time and efforts, I considered it my fault too. As a Recruiter, I did not probe enough into his motivations and the other options he had that time.  I should have asked him this vital question: : 

“What have you done on your own so far to find your new challenge/new environment?”

Instead of telling you candidates to be considerate of other people in your decision-making, let me frame this article to benefit you instead. Time and energy are finite resources that you should spend wisely. Perhaps it would be fruitful to consider the following before launching an external job search. 

What do you want, exactly?

When candidates respond to me with “seeking for new challenges” or “change of work environment”, my follow-up questions are along the lines of “what specific opportunities are you keen to explore?” Too often, I get very vague answers like “open for anything” , “anything related to my background”, “I’m just looking at whatever’s available in the market” 

Rather than letting a Headhunter or whatever role is available define your next move, it would be productive ask yourself questions like what are my interests? Which part of my job do I enjoy the most? What kind of working environment do I operate the best? What skills do I have that I can bring into in my next job? What do I  not like about my job that I do not want to do anymore? It will give you a rough idea on what job functions you’ll be looking out for, will enjoy doing, and whether changing into that is viable given your current life situation. 

Have you tried to search for other opportunities internally? Or outside of your work?

Like our personal lives, I think we’ve also been subconsciously trained to fill what’s missing in our work life externally. Job search is a full-time job too, and transitioning to a new company can be stressful and scary. You can spare yourself the trouble of career change by starting your search on a familiar ground: your current workplace. Is there any internal job board where staff can apply? Is there a new BU that needs new staff?

In some cases, you don’t need to switch jobs. You just need to channel your energy into co-curricular activities that will add a little more fun in your work life. Are there any internal clubs or groups that you can join? Are there any upcoming activities that you can help organise? Are there opportunities to mentor junior staff or interns?

In the same vein, maybe you could find that excitement or challenge outside your work life. You could start a new hobby, or get back into an old one, or spend more time with your loved ones, nature or with yourself. Doing something else outside of work allows you to have  headspace to put things into perspective, and release the stresses and frustrations of your daily grind. 

Have you asked for it?

Ask. A three-letter word that seems so easy, but actually very challenging to do. Most of us assume that we will be perceived as demanding for asking for what we want. We think that our request will be rejected, or there’s no way we can be accommodated. A friend once told me: Just put it out there. Throw the question, but be prepared for the answer. It’s not guaranteed that a job change or a team transfer will be given to you when you ask. However, it  opens doors for possibilities. Maybe three months down the road, there’ll be an opening in another department, or a new BU will be set-up. Since you already asked the question, hopefully your manager / hr remembers and you could be transferred there. 

It seems counterintuitive for me to share these advices to you, given that my success as a Headhunter is measured by my ability to convince a candidate to switch jobs. I’d like to view this strategically: When you know what you’re looking for as a jobseeker, it will be easier for you to work with us Headhunters, because we know which opportunities to share with you. It will save your time and efforts in searching, and only those prospects that are aligned with your interests and goals will come your way. It will also save our (Headhunters and Clients) time in pursuing candidates and make meaningful placements. I’d say that’s a win-win for everyone involved. 

Have you ever felt unchallenged and sick of the same old stuff at work? What steps have you taken to liven up your career when you were stuck in a limbo? 

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