Five ways to assess a new job offer
Is it really "Time for a change"?
The U.S. unemployment rate fell to a 50-year low in September 2018, making candidates more desirable than ever. Maybe you’ve been thinking it’s time for a change. You wouldn’t be alone.
According to Ceridian’s 2018-19 Pulse of Talent report, 37 percent of respondents are looking for a new job — either actively pursuing new opportunities (20 percent) or casually seeking a new position (17 percent).
Maybe you were passed over for a promotion, or are having trouble getting along with a new boss. The easy answer would be to just quit, but it’s probably not the right answer.
When you see someone quit their job in dramatic fashion, that may look like fun (especially after a bad day at work), but there are many reasons why that’s not a good idea.
An Addison Group 2019 Workplace Satisfaction Survey of 1,000 jobseekers found 79 percent of respondents say they are likely — or very likely — to look for a new job after a single bad day at work.
One of the top reasons why that may not be the right choice is that “unemployment discrimination” is a real thing. Both research and anecdotal evidence have found it’s harder to find a job when you’re unemployed than if you’re job searching while you’ve got a job.
One recent survey measured the difference. According to “The Science of the Job Search (2018)” survey by TalentWorks, “People who showed they were currently employed (even if creatively) saw a 149% hireability boost compared to their previously-fired or laid-off competitors.”
“Creatively” demonstrating current employment can be anything from continuing to show the work experience as “To Present” on a résumé or LinkedIn profile even after leaving a job to listing a “consulting business” as interim employment.
But when a hiring manager looks at your résumé — in particular, at your most recent positions — he or she likely won’t know if you’re not there because you were fired, laid off, or you quit.
Quitting can negatively impact your chances of getting hired. And it’s not just about quitting your job — it can be about quitting your job too soon (or looking for another job too soon).
The need to demonstrate current employment is particularly important if you haven’t been at your most recent job for very long.
According to the TalentWorks research, “People whose shortest job was 9+ months were 85 percent more hireable than people whose shortest job was 8 months or less.”
Furthermore, TalentWorks found that you are more hireable for your next job if you are at your current job for 18 months or longer.
If you did quit your job, you had better be ready to answer the question in an interview about why you left your most recent position.
That’s if you get the chance to interview at all. Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for reasons to narrow down the pool of candidates they will interview. It may be worth your while to address the reason for your departure in a cover letter accompanying the résumé, because leaving that question unanswered may result in your application being discarded in the initial screening process.
Why People Quit Their Job
There are many reasons to think about making a change. The Pulse of Talent survey found the top five reasons for quitting include:
Nearly a third of employees in the same survey said they would need to leave their current position to move forward in their career.
All of these are “valid” reasons to pursue a job change, but they are not a reason to necessarily quit a job before lining up another one.
Reasons to Look for a New Job While You’re Still Employed
When you’re employed and looking for a new position, not only will recruiters and hiring managers be more inclined to interview you, but you’ll also have more money to invest in your job search. Being unemployed can be expensive!
The average job search is 13 weeks, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Could you afford to go without a paycheck for that long?
Networking takes time, as does applying for positions. You may have to wait a month for the application window to close, and candidates to interview to be selected. It can take 1-2 weeks after that to even get an interview scheduled, and the hiring decision may not be made for a couple days or weeks after that. Even if you’re available to start immediately, the company may require drug testing or have other pre-employment tasks that can lengthen the time before you actually start the job.
On the other hand, conducting a confidential job search while you’re still employed gives you time to prepare the tools required to support your job search. Having a résumé or professional LinkedIn profile professionally prepared can take 2-3 weeks.
Instead of simply quitting, you can also prepare yourself for a career move. Rather than quit right now, you might stick it out for six months, using that time to get yourself ready for the next opportunity. For example, taking classes or pursuing a certification that will better prepare you for your next job, or starting a side hustle (that might grow into a full-time opportunity in time).
Also, you want to make sure that you’re not running away from something as much as you are running towards something better. Spend some time thinking about what you do want to do next and why this particular job wasn’t a good fit.
If you’re looking to change careers, lining up your next job before quitting is even more important. Switching careers itself is more difficult than finding a job in the same industry, and adding unemployment to that equation can make the job search process take even longer.
The Costs of Unemployment
In addition to the time you’ll spend unemployed, there’s the potential costs of being unemployed. When you quit your job, you may lose benefits that will affect you financially. For example, if you need COBRA to continue to have health insurance coverage, that can be expensive. (COBRA is the temporary medical insurance named for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, the federal law that gives people who have lost employer-sponsored health coverage the right to continue their coverage, at their own expense, for at least 18 months. However, the insured is responsible for 100 percent of the insurance premium — plus up to 2 percent for administrative costs — not just the amount you were paying as an employee.)
If you quit your job, you likely will not be able to collect unemployment benefits. So even if you think you are going to get fired, it may be better to let that happen. If you are laid off or fired, you may also get severance pay or access to outplacement services.
In general, you can only collect unemployment benefits after quitting if you have “good cause” — for example, due to an unsafe work environment, or if you weren’t being paid as promised, or if you were subject to harassment or discrimination. You can check with your state’s unemployment office before quitting to determine if you are eligible for unemployment benefits. It may also be wise to talk with an employment attorney to be sure.
Why You May Need To Quit
Now, there may be some valid reasons why you may need — or want to — quit your job immediately.
These can include:
Can I Just Quit?
The answer is probably yes, depending on where you work. In the United States, all states are formally recognized as “at-will” employment states, meaning the employee can be dismissed by an employer for any reason without “just cause” and without warning, as long as the reason is not illegal. Some states also place limitations on at-will employment, which is more for the employee’s protection in the event of being fired or laid off.
Employees not covered by an employment contract are employed “at will,” meaning neither you nor the employer need to provide notice prior to ending the employment.
If you have an employment agreement, read it carefully to find out how you need to turn in your resignation. Do you need to provide two weeks’ notice? Do you need to provide notice in writing? Make sure you are following the process outlined in the contract.
It’s always a good idea to offer two weeks’ notice to your employer — if you can — even if they turn you down and have you leave immediately. Keep in mind if you quit without giving notice, you are likely burning a bridge with that employer that will lead to negative reference checks in the future.
Prepare To Quit
If you are going to quit your job, do everything you can to prepare yourself ahead of time:
One advantage of quitting your job is that you will have more time to spend on the job search, especially time to interview and network. Looking for a new job has often been compared to taking on a part-time job because of the time and energy required.
A job change may be in your (immediate) future. But don’t act without thinking or planning your next move — especially if you want to make a change in reaction to a bad day, being overlooked for a promotion, or because of a disagreement with a co-worker or manager.
How to Develop Your Positioning
To identify how to position yourself, it helps to examine a couple of key issues:
Be aware of the kind of work you are willing to do, and the kind of work you don’t want to do. Make a list of the things you like to do, and what you don’t like to do.
Look to your work history for clues to your positioning. What in your work history did you do to make things better? Look for instances where you showed leadership and accomplishments.
Check out your existing online profile. What comes up when you Google yourself? What is your social media presence? What are you known for online?
Begin with the end in mind: What job do you want? Then figure out what qualities and attributes set you apart from your competition.
Additional resources to help you identify what makes you stand out:
Research Your Profession to Identify Your Positioning
Researching your desired job can also help you identify your unique positioning. Looking at job postings can help, but you should also consider going further in-depth. These sites can help:
O*NET Online (https://www.onetonline.org/)
This website was created for the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration by the National Center for O*NET Development. The O*NET program is “the nation’s primary source of occupational information,” according to the site. It contains information on hundreds of occupations and is available to jobseekers at no cost.
Every occupation requires unique knowledge, skills, and abilities. These occupational characteristics are outlined on the site. The occupational descriptions, which include descriptions of day-to-day work, along with qualifications and interests of the typical worker, allow jobseekers to identify unique positioning opportunities for themselves in their job search.
You can also access the O*NET Resource Center, a free tool (available for immediate download) to assess your occupational interests. The tool offers personalized career suggestions based on your interests and level of work experience.
Access the tool here: https://www.onetcenter.org/IP.html
My Next Move (https://www.mynextmove.org/)
You can start your research on an O*NET affiliated site, My Next Move. The site is an interactive tool for jobseekers to learn more about career options. It includes descriptions, skills, and salary information for more than 900 professions. You can identify careers through keyword search, by browsing industry classification, or through the O*NET Interest Profiler.
My Next Move is maintained by the National Center for O*NET Development under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration.
When you identify a profession, you can assess the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for success in the role. These can often provide guidance for positioning yourself. The “Personality” and “Technology” sections also give insight into your personal positioning.
The “On the Job, You Would” information includes common job functions. Look to see if these are areas where you excel — this can be a point of differentiation.
Also check out the “Also Called” information under the occupation for related job titles you can use in your personal positioning tagline.
America’s Career InfoNet (https://www.careerinfonet.org/)
This website is affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop program. The website includes occupation and industry information, salary data, career videos, education resources, self-assessment tools, and career exploration assistance.
Occupational Outlook Handbook (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/)
The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) provides information on what workers do, working conditions, what qualifications are required for success in the position, pay, job outlook, similar occupations, and sources of additional information for research for more than 300 occupational profiles.
To find an occupation, browse the occupational group of interest on the left-hand side of the website, or use the “A-Z Index” (if you know the specific occupation). You can also enter a job title into the “Search Handbook” box at the top of the site. You can also search for occupations by pay range, education level, training, projected number of new jobs, and projected job growth rate — using the “Occupation Finder” or occupation selector drop-down menus on the home page. If you can’t find an occupation you are interested in, look in the alphabetical index, using similar occupational titles to search for an occupation.
You can also research your prospective employer to identify how to effectively position yourself to work at that specific company. Glassdoor is an excellent way to assess what is important to the employer and how you might fit in.
Dos and Don’ts For Positioning
Here are things you should do:
Here are some things you should not do:
Positioning Can Make It Easier to Find a Job
Recruiters and hiring managers need help knowing what kind of position you’re focused on. It’s harder to find a job when you don’t know what kind of job you want. Conversely, it is easier to find a job if you know what kind of job you want.
There are fewer opportunities for average performers to be found in the hiring process, but there are tremendous opportunities for stars. Positioning helps you identify where you can be a star performer and then make the case (through your work and your career communication documents) to support this claim.
The next step is to align your job search with your positioning. Make sure your résumé and interview preparation supports this and makes your case.
Build Your Personal Position Before You Start Looking for a Job
Many jobseekers develop their personal positioning when they are looking for a new job. But personal positioning can help you be more effective — and visible — in your current job.
In your current job, get attention for the work you’re already doing:
Develop your own communications plan in your current position. Increase your personal visibility by speaking, writing, and participating in social media. Once you’ve identified your personal positioning, see how you can incorporate it into your everyday work life. This will make you worth more to your current employer (remember, superstars stand out!) and make you more attractive as a job candidate when it is time for you to look for a new position.
The law and the job application forms
You’ve spent hours writing your résumé — or may have invested hundreds of dollars hiring a professional résumé writer — and maybe even drafted a cover letter to accompany it. You now have all you need to apply for a job opportunity that caught your attention — or do you? At some point in the process, you’ll be required to complete a job application, which may seem redundant. After all, doesn’t the résumé cover everything the employer needs to know?
Employment Application Basics
Despite all the changes in résumé content and style — as well as how one looks for work and applies for jobs — one constant remains: The employment application is an essential part of the hiring process. From the employer’s perspective, the application serves a number of purposes that are not addressed in a résumé (and optional cover letter). These may vary, depending on the nature of the job and the preferences of the company; however, the following always applies:
That last point is quite complex, sparking debates about what are — and are not — lawful questions, and leaving jobseekers confused and anxious.
In earlier decades, almost any question was acceptable. It was not unusual to ask the applicant’s date of birth, marital status, or citizenship. Things that were once okay are now prohibited by numerous federal laws that turned the tables in the applicant’s favor. Under these laws, employment applications/employers cannot inquire about the following:
As you can see, it’s been more than 25 years since any significant regulations were put in place to protect job applicants from discrimination. Other employment application practices that are still in place include inquiries about an applicant’s criminal history, credit standing, and salary history, all of which can negatively impact a jobseeker. Fortunately, there are grassroots initiatives taking hold, and new regulations being adopted at the federal, state, and municipal level all across the country.
Applicant Credit Checks
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) is a federal law that governs how a credit reporting agency handles your credit information. It is designed to protect the integrity and privacy of your credit information. The FRCA permits employers to request credit reports on job applicants. A 2010 study from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimated that 60 percent of companies checked some (or all) job applicants’ credit reports.
Federal law permits employers to use credit history as a basis for denying employment and even rejecting any applicant who refuses a credit check. When applying for jobs, it is important to know your legal rights regarding credit checks.
Employers using credit reports to screen job applicants must do the following:
Potential employers see a modified version of your credit report. Information that might violate equal employment regulations — such as birth year and marital status — is omitted, as is your credit score and account numbers.
As of February 2013, eight states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) have passed legislation to restrict the use of credit checks in employment, and dozens of additional cities and states have introduced bills to do so.
At the same time, however, these laws include numerous exemptions that allow certain employers to continue conducting credit checks — even when there is no evidence that credit history is relevant to job performance. Check your state’s labor department or your city government to find if you are covered by any applicable laws.
The Equal Employment for All Act, introduced to Congress in 2013, would amend the FCRA to prohibit employers from considering credit reports in the hiring process, except for jobs that require a security clearance, are in the public sector, or are related to financial services. As of November 2018, that bill continues to languish in the House Financial Services Committee.
In the meantime, there are things you can do to protect yourself:
As of 2014, nearly 90 percent of U.S. employers asked job applicants to reveal information on an employment application about their criminal histories — have they ever been arrested and/or been convicted of a crime — but the tides are turning.
As the national movement to improve fairness in hiring grows, currently 36 states, the District of Columbia, and 150+ cities and counties have adopted “ban the box” laws, which mandate the removal of criminal history questions from employment applications. These laws help the estimated 33 percent of adults with a criminal past get a fair shot at finding work by delaying inquiries about arrests and convictions until after the employer considers the applicant’s qualifications and determines whether he or she is suited for the job.
Currently, there is no federal “ban the box” law, with a bill to pass the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2017 stalled in Congress. Because of this, there is a lot of disparity and confusion about what laws/policies exist and where they apply. In some locations, these laws apply only to public government positions; elsewhere, they apply to both private and public employers.
To further compound the issues, there is little consistency in stipulations for when background checks can be used in the applicant screening process, even in places where fair-chance laws are in place. For employers with a presence in multiple states, each location is responsible for complying with local laws, even if these conflict with the company’s existing hiring practices.
Capitalizing on the “ban the box” movement, some state and local governments are adopting laws and regulations that prohibit employers from requesting salary history information from job applicants, as well as preventing asking the minimum salary an applicant is willing to accept. This growing trend is part of a push to fight wage discrimination and eliminate or reduce the gender pay gap.
Four states (Delaware, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Oregon) as well as Puerto Rico led the way by enacting statewide bans for public employers in 2017, with California, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Vermont, and Washington passing laws in 2018. Laws are set to go into effect in Connecticut and Hawaii in 2019. More than 20 states have proposed legislation prohibiting salary-related questions.
In February 2017, Philadelphia became the first city in the country to ban private-sector employers from asking job applicants about their salary history. Under this law, employers can be penalized if they ask salary questions on applications and during interviews. In October 2017, New York City joined Philadelphia in banning public and private employers from asking an applicant’s pay history. Similar laws went into effect in San Francisco in July 2018.
As privacy concerns grow and anti-discrimination issues continue to rise, employers and jobseekers are challenged to keep pace with changes in what information is lawful and unlawful to request during the application and screening process.
Currently, employers are permitted to ask applicants in all states for their social security numbers; however, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts require employers to put safeguards — like encryption — into place for online applications to protect the privacy of jobseekers.
Employers are encouraged to ask themselves what information is essential to screening and qualifying the best candidates. And jobseekers are challenged to ask themselves how much personal information they are willing to share to get the job. The answers are continually changing.
What do recruiters look for?
Recruiters are looking for candidates that are a close match to what an employer has outlined as the hiring requirements for the position. In essence, they are looking for square pegs for square holes. If your work history and accomplishments meets their current or future needs, they may add you to their database. Recruiters may contact you if they have a position that fits your profile — or they may make contact to ask you to recommend other people who might be interested in an opening they are recruiting for.
Finding a recruiter
There are many ways to connect with a recruiter. Sometimes, a recruiter will find you. This is particularly true if you have specialized, in-demand skills. If you post your résumé to an online job board, you are likely to receive contact from recruiters. Others may identify you through a professional association you’re a member of, or through mentions of your work that appear online (for example, blogs, articles, and publications).
LinkedIn is also one of the most common ways to be “found” by a recruiter. Recent surveys indicate that 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to identify candidates. You are more likely to be found on LinkedIn if you have a complete profile that is optimized with specific keywords and accomplishments. Recruiters are always looking for good candidates to add to their database.
But you don’t need to wait to be found to work with a recruiter. Proactively making a connection with one or more recruiters can be a good strategy, even if you are not currently looking for a new position.
LinkedIn can be an effective way for you to make a connection with a recruiter. Use the “People Search” function on LinkedIn to find recruiters in your field or specialty.
Search the “Keywords” or “Title” field for recruiter and keywords and industries relevant for your field, like “engineering,” “manufacturing,” or “technology.” You can then narrow down the search by other criteria, like location. You can continue refining the results until you come up with a few names to contact.
Google can also help you find recruiters. Search Google (http://www.google.com) using a search such as “IT Recruiter Las Vegas” or “Engineering Recruiter San Antonio.” You can also search Google and job boards for jobs posted by recruiters. If you find postings for positions similar to the one you’re interested in, you can contact the recruiter and present yourself for other opportunities.
You can also use a résumé distribution research firm to identify targeted recruiters to contact. For example, Profile Research (http://www.profileresearch.com) can research and develop lists of recruiters that are looking for candidates with your qualifications and expertise. For a fee, they will identify the recruiters and distribute your résumé and cover letter to these individuals (either via e-mail or offline).
You can use free and paid online directories to access recruiters as well.
Custom Data Banks (https://www.customdatabanks.com/) maintains an online directory of recruiters.
Online Recruiters Directory is another resource that you may want to explore here:
One free directory option is SearchFirm (http://www.searchfirm.com). Designed to help executive search firms connect with corporate clients, jobseekers can search the database by specialty, geography, and recruiter name.
NPA (The Worldwide Recruiting Network) - Jobseekers can also search the online directory of The Worldwide Recruiting Network (http://www.npaworldwide.com/DIRECTORY/) to find member firms.
The NPA website also has a job search to tool for jobseekers to view listings posted by recruiters within their network. Search the NPA Job Board by job title, keywords, and/or specialties (https://npaworldwide.com/for-job-seekers/ ).
Often the best way to find a recruiter, however, is through a referral from someone you know. Talking with co-workers in your field to see who they have worked with is a great way to find a recruiter. If there’s a specific company you want to work for, you can also make a connection with someone in their human resources department and ask if there is a specific recruiter or recruiting firm they work with often. Learning proven networking strategies will always help you be more effective.
Research your recruiter. See if he or she has been involved in any high-profile searches in your industry (these are sometimes profiled in industry publications). Google your recruiter’s name and see what job postings he or she has listed online. You are trusting your personal information and reputation to your recruiter, so trusting him or her is essential.
I am a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Recruiter with three decades of experience in assisting jobseekers, working with employers, and writing effective resumes. I am well-versed with Applicant Tracking Systems. I use the right keywords so my resumes go through ATS successfully and without complications