Why There's Never Been a Better Time to Consider Your Career Options
People often talk about reaching a crossroads in their lives — a moment of reflection before making a decision that can have far-reaching consequences.
Following a global pandemic, the rise of remote working and other changes to the way we work, perhaps you’ve reached your own career crossroad. Are you content enough in your current position to continue on the same path? Or have you been wondering if it’s time to look elsewhere?
Whatever is going through your mind these days, you are definitely not alone.
- The ultimate quiz: Are you happy at work?
- Video: Rediscover Yourself
- How to Kickstart Your Career Change
- Know Your Worth: Become an Empowered and Confident Job Seeker
European workers at the crossroads
Let's make one thing clear: there's no shame in reaching career crossroads. In fact, many have felt the need for greater self-actualisation, as the following statistics will confirm:
- A Michael Page survey of over 200 Swiss candidates found that only 7% were convinced they'd found the right job and had no desire for change.
- According to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report, just 14% of European employees are engaged at work — a figure that's 19 points lower than the U.S. and Canada (33%).
- A LinkedIn survey found that the share of Europeans changing jobs between August and October 2021 was 20% higher compared with the same period in 2019.
The Great Reflection
Plenty of catchy names have been suggested to describe this turbulence in the job market. The Great Resignation. The Big Quit. But we prefer the Great Reflection, which captures the idea that millions of people are rethinking their careers, even if they haven’t yet acted on those thoughts. Do some of these reflections resonate with you?
I need more purpose and fulfilment in my role
Perhaps you’re no longer content to be ethics-driven at home and profits-driven in the workplace? If so, you’re in good company. Three-quarters of European workers surveyed by Michael Page said they wanted to work for a company committed to corporate social responsibility (CSR). Put simply, they want their employer to “do the right thing”, which could range from promoting human rights to providing opportunities for voluntary work in the local community.
I’m looking for flexibility and a better work-life balance
You may be one of the millions of white-collar professionals (it’s important to remember that essential workers had a different experience) who were happier at work during the pandemic, when you were compelled to work from home. Our surveys show that 70% of employees would like to work remotely either some or all of the time.
I want a better manager
Leadership matters. You can have the most fulfilling duties and flexible work schedules, but if your boss treats your unfairly or ignores you in meetings, it’s almost impossible to be happy at work. When we surveyed European workers about what makes a bad manager, they named resistance to change, lack of organisational skills and criticising team members in public as the least desirable qualities in a supervisor. But don’t despair — there are plenty of outstanding managers out there, with qualities such as the ability to help workers reach their potential (the most important quality in a boss, according to our survey), respect and strong communication skills.
I want to be my true self at work
COVID wasn’t the only thing on workers’ minds these past few years. The rise of social movements like Black Lives Matter and raised awareness over topics like transgender identities have pushed organisations toward embracing diversity, equity and inclusion agendas. But some companies are advancing faster than others in this respect, and you may still feel uncomfortable about “bringing your true self to work.” If so, it could be time to look for an employer with values more closely aligned with your own.
I want to accelerate my career development
Skills are the new frontier. In today’s knowledge economy, professionals need to be laser-focused on acquiring the skills (both technical and interpersonal) they need to succeed. A full 71% of the respondents in Europe in a Michael Page survey placed training and career development among their most-wanted employment benefits, beating out more traditional perks like private healthcare and use of a company car.
I want more money
Some people are afraid to say this out loud. But there’s no shame in setting your sights on a salary that reflects your skill levels and experience, as well as the value you add to your employer. And with inflation expected to exceed 8% in Europe this year, a raise that would have looked generous in 2020 may do little to cover the costs of living now.
Taking the next steps
So, what about you? Are you still unsure about your feelings on your work life? We created a short quiz for you below to figure out if it is time to look for better things. Now is the time to start thinking positively about the changes you can make to secure a brighter future. You can count on us to guide you through the process.
Before making any changes in your career, you need clarity on what you want and what you like.
Easier said than done. Where to start to figure all of this out? Watch our step-by-step video to guide you through the process of rediscovering yourself.
How to Kickstart Your Career Change
Have you concluded that your career has stalled? And thought about the reasons why it stalled? Finally, do you have a good idea of the direction you’d like your career to move in?
If you can answer “yes” to all the above, good for you! You’re ready to kickstart your career change.
But that doesn’t mean you should apply for every hot job on the market or sign up with the first recruiter who pings you on LinkedIn. Careers are like journeys. The better you prepare for getting from A to B, the faster you will get there — and the less chance you will have of getting lost along the way.
With that in mind, here are some tips for getting your career change up and running.
Research the jobs and sectors that interest you
Ambition, drive and self-confidence are all important qualities employers look for. But in the knowledge economy, none of these will compensate for your lack of — you guessed it — knowledge. If you go into an application process without doing your homework, hiring managers may applaud your potential but ultimately reject you for being unprepared...
Start with some high-level research. To become a top talent, you need to discover and keep up with the key insights driving innovations in the sector. Subscribe to relevant newsletters and publications to stay on top of trends so that you’re comfortable discussing these in future interviews. Likewise, seek out and follow industry “influencers” on social media. Read content created or promoted by seasoned professionals on their LinkedIn accounts and engage with them in the comments section.
After you’ve built up your industry knowledge, start drilling down into the specific roles that interest you. For example, if you want to launch or relaunch a tech career, browse job postings on recruitment sites to get a sense of the qualifications, skills and educational accomplishments employers regard as must-haves.
Conduct a skills gap analysis and sharpen your skills
Skills gap analysis sounds technical, but it’s simply a way to measure your existing skills against the ones you need to advance your career...
One way to identify your skills gaps is to use an online assessment tool. Another one is to work with a career coach or recruiter. This kind of customised self-assessment will pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses, so that you can draw confidence from the former and start addressing the latter.
When considering your training needs, don’t assume you need to reinvent yourself. In fact, your skills gap analysis is likely to reveal that you already possess many of the key skills necessary to upgrade your career. These so-called transferable skills fall into two camps:
- Soft skills. These are interpersonal, communication-based or simply “people” skills that can give you an edge in virtually any profession. Critical soft skills include emotional intelligence , active listening, problem-solving, critical thinking, time management and teamwork.
- Technical skills. You may be surprised how many of your technical skills are transferable. At a time when many companies are pivoting to a digital-first strategy, hard skills provide a solid foundation for almost any career change.
Confirming what you already know should help your self-belief. Now comes the more challenging part. You may need to learn new skills or develop existing ones in your current area of employment. That’s known as upskilling. Alternatively, you may require skills in a different area altogether. That’s known as reskilling.
You’ll find a wealth of resources to help you upskill or reskill, from traditional college courses to online learning platforms. Remember, too, that many employers are just as interested in candidates with a learning mindset as people with perfect test scores and model CVs. Asking about professional development opportunities in a job interview is a great way to show hiring managers that you’re ready and willing to learn on the job.
Be prepared to take a risk
Moving to a position that matches your skills and ambitions can be hugely fulfilling, but it can also involve some costs and trade-offs...
You may conclude that these risks outweigh the rewards. But before you do, think about the best decisions you ever made, from personal relationships to career moves. Were any of them risk-free? Also, remember that the starting salary and responsibilities in your new position reflect where you are right now, not where you will be in a year’s time. If you work hard and take advantage of your new employer’s training programmes, you may find yourself moving quickly up the ranks.
Look before you leap
There are several ways to experience a job without being permanently contracted in the role if you want to test the waters first...
- Volunteering — Suppose you want to hone your database management skills but don’t have the opportunity in your current role. Why not contact some charities and NGOs and ask whether you could perform the same function for them?
- Interning — Many companies offer internship programs, either over the summer or for a set period during the year. While no company can guarantee a job offer at the end of that time, it’s not uncommon for exceptional interns to be offered the opportunity to return in a full-time role.
- Job shadowing — Job shadowing is when you follow and closely observe a professional during their workday. It could be someone in another department at your current employer, in which case you should make a request via your manager. If you’re a student or job seeker, it could be a professional in any field that interests you, in which case you should make a formal request to a company in your area.
- Temporary contract — Have you heard of temp-to-perm? These are interim roles that can become permanent if you impress the employer. It’s a two-way street since you get to evaluate the company while they evaluate you.
Don’t lose your momentum!
All these tips and tools can help kick-start your career journey. But don’t become so immersed in them that you stop moving toward your destination. Once you’re ready, read on to find out how to become an empowered job seeker and find the employer that’s right for you.
Know Your Worth: Become an Empowered and Confident Job Seeker
The aftershocks of the pandemic. The Great Resignation. The rise of remote working. These and other factors have resulted in one of the best environments for job seekers Europe has ever seen. Statistic after statistic shows that demand for skilled talent continues to outpace supply.
There's only one problem: You're not a statistic. Regardless of the market conditions, job hunting is often an emotional roller coaster. You're making a life-changing decision, and you want to be sure that your next job is a change for the better. Otherwise, you may land a new role that leaves you feeling no more fulfilled than the one you left.
Let's discuss ways to put aside those doubts and feel positive, confident and empowered in your job search.
Build your personal brand
Think about the things that make you "you". Your favourite brand of sneakers, sure. Your taste in music, definitely. And because you will likely spend around a third of your life working, your personal brand also includes the habits and qualities that make you unique as a professional. Perhaps you’re particularly well-qualified in terms of certifications and awards. Or renowned for your ability to meet tight deadlines under pressure. It could be you work for local charities or NGOs on a voluntary basis. The list of possibilities is endless.
Why does this matter? Because for most people, the “shop window” for our personal brand is the internet. Whether we like it or not, all our online activities — on LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok, plus more niche platforms like GitHub and Quora — form a searchable resource for recruiters and hiring managers. Some research even suggests that most employers have eliminated candidates based on their social media presence.
As a confident job seeker, you'll build your personal brand to impress hiring managers and give yourself an edge over other candidates. Figure out what you’re passionate about and ensure this is reflected on your resume and social media profiles. Expand your networks by connecting with people in your field who inspire you. Most importantly, tell a story. Show how your life experiences have affected your professional choices and highlight any challenges you have faced along the way.
Don’t underestimate yourself
Nervous candidates look at job posts and think, "Will this company want me?" Empowered job seekers look at the same posts and think, "Do I want to work for this company?"
How can you achieve this mindset change? First, don’t be intimidated if a position you’re interested in has a long list of requirements. Of course, if it unambiguously states that all candidates must have a Ph.D. in data science, there’s no point applying unless you have that qualification. Otherwise, recruiters and hiring managers don’t expect you to tick every box, and you shouldn’t either. Women job seekers in particular should take this advice to heart, with research showing that men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the requirements, while women apply only if they meet 100% of them.
Second, pay attention to what the company can do for you, not just what you can do for the company. Is it committed to upskilling and professional development, or does that seem like more of a vague aspiration? Does it offer flexible or hybrid working arrangements, trusting employees to be productive on their own terms? Is the language around D&I initiatives generic, or does it suggest an organisation on a mission to build a diverse and inclusive workforce?
Don't let an employer disrespect you
Remember Hansel and Gretel and their trail of breadcrumbs? "Breadcrumbing" also describes the dubious practice where employers give you just enough information and encouragement to keep you interested but never move to the decision stage. It's the flip side of "ghosting", where candidates disappear without informing recruiters or hiring managers.
Empowered job seekers never ghost — and they don't allow themselves to be breadcrumbed, either. If you feel like a prospective employer is stringing you along, give them a deadline for moving to the next stage of the process — and be prepared to walk away if one isn't forthcoming.
A note of caution. If you feel disrespected during an application process, resist the temptation to vent on social media. It will feel good for a day or so but will damage your personal brand in the long term.
Negotiate the best deal possible
Received a great job offer? Congratulations! But for the empowered job seeker, the process is far from over.
Read the offer from top to bottom and measure it against your needs and expectations. Use our salary guide for your country to benchmark the pay offer against the market average for your job title, responsibilities and experience. Backed up by this data, request an improved starting salary if the offer falls short.
Also, remember that starting salary is only one element of a compensation package. What about perks and benefits? How much paid time off will you receive per year, and will this rise over time? Does the employer offer subsidised tuition fees, employee discounts or free gym membership? The hiring manager may be unwilling to move on your starting salary, but they usually have much more leeway to adjust the standard perks and benefits package to suit your needs.
Get the support you need
Anyone can become a confident, empowered job seeker. But you may need some encouragement and expert advice along the way. Our global network of recruiters and consultants is ready to help you build your brand, assess your skills gaps and match you with exciting opportunities at the world’s best companies. Upload your CV today to find out how we can support you on your journey.