As we see a return to the pub, high street shops re-opening and life feeling that little bit more normal – we have also seen a similar change in the recruitment market. As we creep towards a more “normal” life, we have found that both clients and candidates have been more open to discussing new opportunities.
Having recently conducted a series of polls regarding personal and career development, this increase in candidate interest has got me thinking about the recruitment process more broadly, especially from the candidate’s perspective. What’s the best way to ensure that your career is always moving in the right direction and how do you make sure that you are fairly rewarded for the work you do?
Before you do anything…
Everything starts with you. In order to drive your career forward, you need to form a clear idea of what you want to be doing in your job both now and in the future. I find that thinking about what you enjoy most and any career goals and aspirations you might have is a good starting point here.
In addition to this exercise, you also need to ask yourself, “am I happy with how I am being paid for this work and is it a fair representation of my market worth?”. When asking about this in my polls, more than 50% of people felt they were underpaid by 5% or more and the same percentage got a salary increase of 2% or less in their last review.
Now, it can be difficult to benchmark your salary accurately with advertised job budgets only giving partial insights so speaking with trusted recruiters can be beneficial here. We can give you an insight into how your current skill set and exposures compare to your peers in the market and therefore offer a more precise benchmark. Additionally, recruiters will be able to help you to create a career map and offer insights as to what employers are most interested in or the skills you will need to develop to achieve that next career step. By sharing this information with them, they should also be able to help you more effectively in the future too!
Now, if after going through this process you are happy then congratulations – you can stop here and get back to enjoying your work! For the rest of you sticking with me, it is time to put together a plan!
Your current employer
If these initial questions identify any gaps then, before you consider anything externally, make sure you speak to somebody at your current company – whether that’s your current manager, team lead or career coach.
Believe it or not, in a vast majority of cases, your current employer actually wants you to stay with them and most will want to see you personally grow and develop whilst working for them! Bring your development points to them and discuss their viability before making any decision regarding your future. Make sure you agree actions, set timelines and actually discuss the financials associated with this too. It might seem a daunting prospect to many but just the act of articulating these points and setting out a plan will help you to actually achieve your goals, especially with the support of your company and managers behind you! More importantly, by identifying these points, you now have a way to hold yourself and your employer accountable for your development – if either of you move away from the agreed actions then you have something to refer back to!
What if this doesn’t work?
Having exhausted your internal options, you now need to look elsewhere and consider a new role. Call me biased but speaking with a specialist recruiter at this stage would a great starting point! Job opportunities will of course be advertised through job boards like Reed, LinkedIn and through company websites but a recruiter will be able to cover jobs across all these platforms (and are often the ones posting on them anyway!).
In pretty much all professional areas, you will be able to find a specialist recruiter who can support your job search but make sure you invest some time to get to know them and to understand their capability too. By setting aside the time to speak properly, they will be able to form a better understanding of your current skill set, future career goals and salary expectations meaning that, in return, you should receive jobs that are much more tailored to your search and ambitions. They will also be able to tell you how realistic your ambitions actually are! It is rare to be able to move into your perfect role but taking a first step towards it is a great start!
Crucially, this process will also give you an idea of how you feel about working with this person or company moving forward – remember that they are representing you to your next employer, so it is important that you feel they understand you and your search properly!
The job search
Having gone through the process of finding new opportunities either online or through recruiters, make sure that your application is representing you as strongly as possible. Read your CV and ensure it properly reflects your capability offering tangible examples of your work but also take time to tailor it to each role. For example, if you want to move into a role more focused on reinsurance, make sure your CV includes any reinsurance experience you have gained to date. It sounds obvious but you would be amazed how often this isn’t done!
Next will be preparing for interviews. This is another area where you can have huge influence and take control of your own pathway from the outset. Firstly, make sure you do your preparation – understand all you can about the company, role and team beforehand but don’t be afraid to ask questions about these areas in the interview too! Additionally, make sure you identify the information about the role that is most important to you – what do you need to know to feel good about progressing with this opportunity?
Use the opportunity to feedback as well. If you have concerns then raise them! Unlike finding a new house, where your choice is fixed, a job’s responsibilities or development areas can be tailored around you! This is something I have started to see much more over the past few years – where roles might not be perfect for a candidate initially but, by the time it is offered after a couple of interviews, it has been transformed into an ideal next step!
This negotiation period when interviewing and choosing to accept a new role is another area where a recruiters prove useful. Being able to represent your best interests with their client, they can save you from having potentially difficult conversations with your potential employer and allow you the opportunity to be completely frank and honest with your thoughts without fearing the repercussions!
Leaving your old role and starting anew!
Having found a new role that is better aligned to your career goals and received an offer you feel is better matched to your experience and skill set, it will now be time to resign. This is something that most people dread and, increasingly at present, also leads to the tricky situation of a counter offer.
As mentioned before, especially in the current candidate-scarce market, it is rare that your employer will want to lose you and so expect them to offer you more money (and sometimes even a new role!) to stay. This is where the beginning of whole process is so important and can save you time. If you don’t explore internally first, you would have no idea that this was possible. If you did follow this step though, you have had to look for a new job to achieve your career goals, so you must question why that opportunity is now being offered internally where it wasn’t before? Whilst it is flattering to receive a counter, be careful to ensure that the promises made can be delivered before you decide to stay!
Assuming you decide to make the change though, ensure you are a “good leaver”. Help where you can and handover your work properly – you never know whether you might be working with any of your colleagues again in the future!
Finally, on starting in your new role, make sure you don’t forget about this process and those original career goals and ambitions. This is a constantly evolving process, one that can hopefully see you through a long and productive career. Now it’s time to apply it afresh to your new role and employer!
I hope that this has provided an interesting insight into just one way that you can take control of your personal career, development and salary. Of course there are many ways of addressing these points so, if you have ideas that can add to this process, improve it or even if you disagree entirely, please do reach out and let me know!
Should you wish to explore your options through Arthur – whether considering new roles, discussing career pathing options or getting some personal benchmarking advice, feel free to get in touch with me or any of my colleagues directly. You can reach me on email@example.com or 0203 5877 530.
By Tom Coates
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