Your Career Q&A: Never Change Jobs at the End of the Year

Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column. This week, he wants to address readers directly about a common problem he has observed.

In August and September, I received a number of e-mails from gainfully employed readers who want to change jobs before the end of the year. When you are out of work, this is a valid issue. However, if you are currently employed but still want to change jobs by the end of the year, you may not be asking yourself the right questions or thinking things through.

If you move into a new job at the end of the year, in the last financial quarter, you could be damaging your earnings potential.

To put this into context: The stock market has tripled in the last 15 years, corporate profits are at all-time highs, and unemployment―at 3.9 percent―is as low as it has been in 20 years.

However, Pew Research notes in an August report that “despite the strong labor market … today’s real average [U.S.] wage (that is, the wage after accounting for inflation) has about the same purchasing power it did 40 years ago. And what wage gains there have been have mostly flowed to the highest-paid tier of workers.”

Translation: You’re getting the short end of the stick. It’s time to adopt a savvier attitude toward managing your career, especially the planning, preparation, timing and successful execution of strategic career moves.

Considerations About Money
If you are employed and make a move in the last quarter of the year, the problems of holiday slowdowns and exhausted hiring budgets might limit your choices. You may get an initial pay bump in the slightly higher starting salary in the new job, but you may also be leaving money on the table at your old job.

The highlight of the fourth quarter is often the annual performance and salary review—so you’ll miss out on bonuses and merit increases if you move in the last three months of the year. On the other hand, if you wait until January, when all the new hiring budgets open up, you could have a higher base salary and far more employment opportunities.

Increasing Your Odds of Success
Fifty percent of the success of any project depends on the preparation. Yet most people rush into a job change without adequate knowledge of the skills and tools needed to do the job successfully or without a plan of attack that ensures the widest choice of opportunities and successful execution. To be successful:

  • Identify all potential employers in your chosen geographical area to deliver the widest choice of options.
  • Fine-tune what is likely your third-weakest professional survival skill: Creating a job-targeted resume.
  • Fine-tune your second-weakest professional survival skill: Getting job interviews.
  • Fine-tune your weakest professional survival skill of all: Turning job interviews into offers.

Instead of jumping at the first offer that comes along before your review, pay raise (fingers crossed) and the new year, why not plan to use the fourth quarter to bring these critical professional survival deficiencies up to speed?

You’ll get the benefit of a review and a raise with your current employer as you prepare to make a considered change or strategic career move. Then, come the first week of January, you could have all the skills and tools in place to execute an effective job search and successful transition. Your next step will result in another raise and put you in line for a review at the end of the year, giving you three raises rather than two in the same period, plus equip you with a body of knowledge that makes you better prepared for the future.

Source: SHRM

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Categories: Personal Development

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