The job search: Before you quit your job, take steps to be prepared

Lenroy Jones
Lenroy Jones

I quit. Have you ever uttered those two words? It's hard to believe that someone would leave a job in our new economy without having employment, but people are.

In a speech in March, Janet Yellen, vice chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, noted "a pickup in the 'quit rate,' which also remains at a low level, would signal that workers perceive that their chances to be rehired are good. In other words, that labor demand has strengthened."

But why would anyone leave a job without having secured a new job? This is a good question given Kentucky's unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent in April from 8 percent in March 2013, according to an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet in May.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, recently reflected a five-year high of people quitting their jobs.

The pursuit of greener pastures is not always about a salary increase. CEB, an executive advisory firm global labor market study, found the top five reasons for leaving today are: stability, compensation, respect, health benefits and work-life balance.

It's great to have confidence in your ability to find new employment, but consider the following suggestions that should be critical to you before packing up your personal belongings:

■ Don't bad-mouth past employers. Resist the urge to criticize your employer and keep in mind that it's a reflection of your own character even if you were in a terrible situation. If you've had multiple issues of previous employers, the interviewer will see you as the common denominator, not that terrible supervisor.

Consider talking about the things that you enjoyed about your company and the success that you had. "Be prepared to answer the question of why you want to change jobs," said Sharon Wiatt Jones, career resource veteran and expert.

■ Don't get caught looking for a job. Your goal should be to be productive and contribute to the success of your organization. There are serious consequences when you are conducting your job search on your current employer's time — it's a no-no.

Some organizations have policies that prohibit employees from working on their job search during work hours and using equipment on personal tasks without written permission. Then you have some employment contracts that have non-compete clauses that prohibit applying for positions with competitors. On the other hand, if you use your job search or an offer to leverage better compensation at your current place of employment, that strategy could backfire.

■ Be organized. It's been said by many that looking for a job is a full-time job, so seeking employment when you're working is not going to be easy.

It will require better planning on your part, or be prepared for a long and frustrating search. So, select your favorite planner, such as Microsoft Outlook calendar, a hard copy calendar, or one of the hundred applications on your smartphone. You will need to get mentally prepared to keep track of your résumés, cover letters, follow up with inquiries and completing online applications. Get your schedule set and be consistent.

Winifred Winston, a career resource expert, said she advises clients "to be strategic in your job search; you don't have time to apply to every job you see."

"Let your network know you are conducting a confidential job search," said Winston, chief career information activist with Winifred's Winning Career Solutions in Baltimore.

■ Maximize technology. Being on top of the latest technology can give you a noticeable edge during your job search. You must keep in mind that conducting a job search is part of your brand and having a LinkedIn account is essential. Your account should be 100 percent completed with a professional picture and checked daily. Moreover, there is an application for your smartphone that you can stay on top of your connections and jobs that you applied for. You should not reveal your job search in the social media.

■ Research the company. Do your diligence by preparing interview questions and learning as much about your prospective new employer. Talk with individuals within your network who will be able to provide excellent insight about the organization. "People are likely to be more candid if they are former employees of the company, which can be tracked through LinkedIn," said Jones.

Here are a few questions to consider. How do they compare with their competitors? Who are the customers? What are the vision, mission and values? What is the reputation? What is their market share? You will want to get a good understanding of their financial stability.

Here are some excellent resources to assist you in researching organizations:

"Maintain a high level of work performance in your current job — the last thing you want to do is ruin your professional image," said Winston.

Just some good advice before you start packing.

Now, get to work on that job search.