No matter what the state of the job market, jumping to a new job is nearly always a difficult decision. Whether the choice to make the jump comes down to emotion (you really don’t want to stick with your current employer, for example) or practical concerns (you need more money), there are a ton of factors to consider.
According to Dice’s 2020 Salary Report, around 38 percent of surveyed technologists said they would change employers in 2020, down from 45 percent a year ago. While external factors (such as a potential recession and an election year) may contribute to more technologists wanting to stay with their current employer for fear of a tighter job market, many of the most popular reasons for jumping jobs are career-focused.
Specifically, some 71 percent of those surveyed indicated that they’d switch employers for higher compensation, while 47 percent indicated that they’d do so for better working conditions, and 32 percent wanted more responsibility. Another 26 percent would take a bet on a new employer in order to better express their creativity. Here’s the full breakdown:
Given how fewer technologists are jumping jobs, it could be time to accelerate your own job search; after all, there might be less competition out there for open roles. If you’re truly interested in landing a new job, here are some quick tips:
Develop a Strategy
Before you begin applying for jobs, sit down (with a piece of paper, or a blank document on the word-processing app of your choice) and ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want to work for a large firm (with stability), or a small one (speedier and startup-like)?
- What skills do you want to learn in your next job?
- Do benefits matter to you? If so, which ones?
- Are you willing to trade salary for equity?
- Are you looking for rapid advancement, or the chance to master a particular role or technology?
- Are you willing to relocate?
The answers to those questions will allow you to fine-tune your search. Of course, you might not know the answers to everything on that list; but the more you put down, the more efficient your job-hunt will eventually be. Next...
Polish Your Materials
Here’s a key rule for any tech search: Take the time to customize your cover letter and résumé to every position to which you apply. Yes, this burns a lot of hours, but customization always beats the “spray and pray” method of applying for jobs (and trust us, hiring managers and recruiters appreciate it). When polishing your résumé, remember to:
- Delete any and all buzzwords (i.e., “passionate,” “problem-solver”).
- Include keywords relevant to your search (reference the original job posting).
- Don’t exaggerate your experience or education (they’ll catch you).
- Emphasize the results you achieved in your previous roles.
- Make sure to cite all key skills important to your desired position (provided you know them).
Practice Your Interviewing Skills
A couple of decades ago, you wouldn’t have known what to expect when you walked into a prospective employer’s office. These days, you can review many companies’ interview setups online, thanks to the websites that allow users to post reviews of their interviewing experience. Research everything the company does, and use what you gather to craft some questions for your interviewer (because you know they’ll ask if you have any questions for them). Here are some examples of what you can ask, provided the interviewer didn’t already offer an answer during the interview:
- Is the company’s culture collaborative? How do teams maintain that spirit of transparency and collaboration? (Gives you better insight into company culture.)
- Why do people like working here?
- When people advance in this company, what kinds of roles do they gravitate towards? (Gives you a sense of professional opportunities within the organization.)
- How do employees generally receive feedback on their work?
- What’s the structure of the team I’d be working on? Who would I be working with?
- Is there the opportunity for remote work?
If you’re applying for a technical role, the interview will likely involve a testing portion, whether on a whiteboard or in front of a terminal. Some job candidates find it useful to do a few brainteasers before their interview in order to shift into the right mindset.
Also, sit down beforehand and prep the answers to the following questions:
- How does the company align with your passions?
- What problem does the company tackle that you want to help solve?
- How can your skillset help the company succeed?
- What could you accomplish for the company on a tactical level?
- How will your background help you succeed in the role?
In all likelihood, your interviewer will ask you some variation on these questions. Keep in mind that you’re much more likely to land the job if you can connect your background and skills to what the company actively needs in order to succeed.
To Jump or Not to Jump
Whatever you decide to do in 2020, there's plenty of opportunity out there for technologists with the right combination of skills and experience.