I have been in all three situations, many times over the years. Looking for a new job because I had to, looking for a new job because I was miserable and doing a career change. Although the situations are different, they share some similarities. So here are some truths I have learned about looking for a new gig:
Salary Cuts and Title Changes Are Inevitable
Accept the fact that you might be looking at a salary cut. Of course if you REALLY need a job, having something coming in is better than nothing coming in. If you are thinking about trying to find something you really love doing, realize the money you are making is going to probably be decreased. You may have great experience, but if you want to try something new, there might be some “dues paying” time. When I switched from working in contact centers to working for a software company, the money wasn’t what I was used to. Knowing I was eventually going to be laid off from my gig at the time and feeling like I needed something new meant I had to suck it up. It wasn’t easy, but I look back at it as being one of the best career decisions I have ever made. The change has opened up a lot of opportunities and the money now is way beyond what I could have been making if I had stayed with what I was doing.
Here is another thing that doesn’t get brought up enough. Job titles are pretty meaningless in the reality of making a living. They may look great on your resume, but don’t necessarily relate to salary, particularly if you change industries. I went from being a supervisor in the financial business to being an analyst in the water business, a definite drop down in the food chain. For that title change, I ended up making 15,000 MORE a year. I still remember doing a dashboard happy dance in my car when I got the offer letter!
Speaking of titles, you technically can put any title you like on your resume. I have a friend who has been doing some of the job duties of the new career he wants to move into, so he has added the title of the job he is hoping to find on his resume. Let’s face it, if he hadn’t, when his resume goes through a keyword search, he would be immediately rejected, so this can be a smart move.
However, once you get to the point where you are filling out a job application, you need to enter the actual titles of past jobs. If they run a background and employment verification, you will have officially lied on your application and that is something you never want to do. Hopefully, by the time you are filling it out, you are getting ready to do a fabulous interview! An employer may overlook what your past titles have been if you can convince them you can handle the job.
Pond Size Matters:
There is tremendous differences between working for small, medium and large companies. I have worked for all three and they all have their pros and cons. Are benefits and vacation time important? Small companies can’t compete with large companies. Do you want to be able to try different things? Maybe help the marketing person put together a campaign or conduct the next company webinar? Small companies are the place to be! There is no right or wrong answer here, but think about where you are in your life and what is going to make you happy right now. I guarantee your priorities and ambitions will evolve quite a bit during your working life.
No gig is forever
It’s easy to have second thoughts when you accept a new job, but no gig is forever. I had a boss one time who said something to me that I have repeated many times over the years. “I was looking for a job when I found this one.” Just because you accept and start working at a lower pay than maybe you are worth, also doesn’t mean you stop looking. I literally accepted a job once and started back job hunting after the first week. It took about a year, but I found something that turned out to be one of my favorite gigs of all time!
You are never stuck in any job forever, just as there is no guarantee that you will be employed forever. Although that can be stressful, you need to accept it and do what you can to learn, grow and never stop looking for something you love doing.