A couple of the key obstacles to finding a new job, and that stop people from actively looking for one, are as follows:
- They struggle to get time off work to attend interviews, due to a hectic schedule or because they have used up their annual leave.
- They have a 3 months’ notice period and think ‘what’s the point? It will just rule me out!’
We can understand the frustration of course, and it’s much easier to stay put than to leap into the uncertain. But if you are not particularly happy in your current role, sooner or later you will need to face up to these challenges.
These are our suggestions, based on real scenarios that we’ve dealt with many times over the years.
Taking time off
- Firstly, accept that you will have to take time off for interviews. It’s unavoidable. If you simply can’t, you need to re-evaluate, and revisit your job search when you have more time on your hands.
- Be selective with your job applications. If it’s going to be a struggle to get time off, focus on nailing one or two interviews for jobs you really want rather than applying for anything and everything. Much better to send out 2-3 strong applications than a dozen weak ones.
- While you can’t control the interview process, you can advise the recruiter if your situation makes it difficult to get time off, and present some solutions. (eg: if you travel and stay away extensively in your current role). Be upfront. What can you do? Are Mondays/Fridays better? Early mornings? If all else fails, how about speaking via Skype? They will want to assist you – let them know at the start of the process and they will work with you to secure an interview slot that works for both you and the client.
- Find out what the interview process is. Is it one interview? Two? It’s rarely more than that with our clients. That’s a couple of mornings or afternoons off work – big deal! In the scheme of things, it’s not that hard to explain them away. See if you can work slightly flexible hours, or if the client can offer an early morning or late afternoon slot.
- Bear in mind that other candidates may drop everything to attend at short notice. If you are inflexible, it can be perceived that you are not that interested, and you’ll risk missing out.
- A little white lie might be required… stick with something believable like a doctor’s appointment, and don’t feel obliged to go into detail.
“I needed time off for a second interview at short notice, so I called my boss in the morning and told her the washing machine had flooded the kitchen. I said I needed to find a plumber at short notice, and wait at the house for them to arrive. Unfortunately it backfired as she was really concerned and told me her brother in law was a plumber and she was going to call him and see whether he could come over! It could have got quite messy but in the end I told her I’d managed to sort a plumber and she left me to it!”
Dealing with a 3-month notice period
3 months is not that terrible. We place lots of people that are on a 3-month notice period, and it’s seldom a deal-breaker. Here are some useful tips to prevent it being a hindrance to finding a new job.
- In the first instance, when you begin to look for work, check your contract, particularly if it has changed at all during your employment. 3 months is fine, as long as all parties know about it – much worse to assume that you are on 4 weeks’ notice and find out that you are not.
- Don’t assume that all the other applicants for the role will have a shorter notice period. They might, but we find increasingly that our clients would rather wait for the right person than hire someone they liked less just because they can start quicker.
- Of course, you can’t find out whether you can negotiate on your notice period without your employer finding out that you’re looking for a new job, but you can do some digging around on your own. Has anyone else left the business recently? It’s worth finding out whether anyone else has been able to negotiate their notice period, you never know. Your employer might be more flexible than you think.
- When you hand in your notice, ask the question. You’ve got nothing to lose. If you are coming to the end of a project, your employer might be happy for you to tie up loose ends and just go. Even if you think they are unlikely to be reasonable, there is little point in them having someone kicking around that is no longer invested in the future of the business. Offer to make the transition easy for them, to assist with finding and training a replacement, in return for some flexibility on your notice period.
And finally, consider why you are on a 3-month notice period – it’s inevitably because you will be quite hard to replace! Believe it or not, this is quite a positive thing for potential employers. They might have a similar policy in place for their most valuable staff. If so, they will wait, because they understand that you are worth it.
“Obstacles do not block the path; they are the path.”
-Dr Travis Bradberry
from his article entitled “10 Ways Ridiculously Successful People Think Differently”. Read it here.