Over the last few months, survey after survey has revealed the growing number of employees considering leaving their jobs. Dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’ by some economists, the phenomenon is believed to have been triggered by the pandemic, which has caused many of us to reconsider what we want from our careers. Paired with the current skills shortage the world is experiencing (especially in Australia where border restrictions have prevented a significant number of migrant workers to work within the country) employees are starting to feel more comfortable in taking the next step in their careers. A Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 global workers released earlier this year, showed that 41% of respondents were considering quitting their current role or changing professions this year. In the U.S alone, April 2021 saw more than four million people quit their jobs, according to a summary from the Department of U.S Labour – the biggest spike on record (Morgan,2021).
Closer to home, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that 393,500 employees were looking to switch to a better job or wanting a change in the workplace during the pandemic. This was far below the pre-pandemic level of 520,400 for the year to February 2020 (Duke, J & Wright. S, 2021). Researchers believe that because of the economic and financial uncertainty of last year, especially in the early days of lockdown and social distancing – many employees felt reluctant to quit their jobs. According to the Microsoft survey, the majority of respondents felt they had put their own career goals on hold in order to help support their organisation through the pandemic, or simply focus on staying employed. However now, with organisations across multiple industries beginning to rebuild and the job market starting to creep back to its pre-pandemic levels, employees feel more confident that if they now leave their current role, they’ll be able to secure other work.
Another interesting impact of the pandemic was the way it forced employees to re-evaluate the particulars of their life and work-life balance. So many areas of our lives became restricted over the last year; how we travelled, how we socialised with friends and family, even how we exercised. Consequently, as our lives outside of work began to shrink, our jobs came under greater scrutiny. People started to question their work lifestyle; were they really passionate about what they did? Did they want to spend as much time as they did working? Others relished the flexibility remote working offered – especially those with young families - and realised they wanted more of it or didn’t want to return to what their job was pre-pandemic (Combs. 2021).
Regardless of the reasons, these statistics reflect a new era of work, where employees are putting more weight behind work-life balance, workplace flexibility and a passion for what they do, and aren’t afraid to go in search of it.
Deciding to leave a job and look for new opportunities can feel overwhelming and daunting, especially in these uncertain times. Fortunately, this is a topic that Design & Build has covered frequently over our 17 years in recruitment, Consequently, we’ve put together some advice to help at each stage of the job-seeking process for those looking for a career change.
Step 1 – Establish Why You’re Looking For A New Job
Before making any formal announcements, it’s important to ensure you’ve established the reasons you want to leave your current role and consequently, what you’re looking for in a new role. Knowing this will help to ensure you’re finding opportunities that are suitable to your needs and capabilities. You need to ask yourself what you want from your ideal job whether that be a higher salary, a new challenge, more opportunity for career development, a better workplace environment, or a greater work-life balance.
Job expert Alison Doyle who writes for the publication The Balance Careers, suggests job seekers initially compile their own decision matrix before starting their job search to help establish the top values or traits they desire most from a job. She suggests the key areas to focus on are job title, job security, workplace culture, financial and non-financial benefits, potential work commute, career potential and learning & development opportunities (2019). Once you’ve established your values you can then assign a weight to each value to determine how important it is to you. You can then refer to this matrix when looking through potential opportunities, to help you determine which jobs will align best with your professional goals.
Step 2 – Compile A Stand Out Resume
Your resume, or CV, is an essential tool in the job searching process. The difference between a good resume and a great resume could cost you an interview! The most important thing when writing your resume is to make sure that it’s relevant to the particular job you’re applying for. To ensure you’re catering to job requirements, it’s a good idea to make a checklist when giving your resume a onceover. Ask yourself the following questions: does my work experience and knowledge correspond with what has been highlighted in the job description? Does the job advertisement mention anything about company culture and is this reflected in my own resume?
Job advertisements will also have a number of ‘keywords’ scattered through their key capabilities and responsibility sections. Being able to match these keywords within your own resume (where applicable) will demonstrate to HR professionals and recruiters that you’ve taken the time to digest what the role will entail.
Furthermore, when listing your previous work experience, it’s important to not just list your key responsibilities in the role, but to provide quantifiable outcomes or achievements that resulted from your responsibilities. This gives you a chance to provide measurable examples of how you’ve contributed to the success of the previous companies you’ve worked for and provides evidence to support your claims. Finally, before sending off any resume, it’s important to read over it properly to ensure all formatting is correct and that there are no spelling and grammar mistakes. Grammar and formatting might seem like a trivial issue in the greater scheme of things but simple mistakes like these on a resume suggest you have poor communication skills, don’t take pride in your work or don’t have a good eye for detail.
Step 3 – Ace Your Job Interview
If you’ve made it to the job interview stage – congratulations! This is your chance to show prospective employers that you are the right person for the job. A key part in ensuring you make a great first impression at the interview (and also minimise pre-interview nerves) is investing in the right preparation. This includes researching the company you’re interviewing for (looking at their website, press releases etc), preparing hypothetical answers for common interview questions they’ll ask and also ensuring you arrive on time for the interview (if in person). Double-check the address beforehand and ensure you know how to get there ahead of time – because arriving late for an interview will automatically set you at a disadvantage and is something that can be easily avoided!
Alternately, if your interview is online it’s important that you’ve double-checked the technology you’ll be using and that your internet connection is secure prior to the interview, to minimise the risk of disruptions. You should also look for a spot with good lighting where there are minimal distractions so that your interviewer can easily see you and won’t have their attention drawn away from what you have to say.
Finally, when it comes to the actual interview itself, a useful thing to remember is the STAR method: a structured approach to answering behavioural questions that demonstrates how a candidate used their previous work experience to overcome a particular problem (Indeed, 2021).
It involves the following:
The Situation- sharing the context around a particular work challenge you faced;
The Task- describing your situation or role in that situation or challenge;
The Action- explaining how you were able to overcome or resolve that challenge. If the action was carried out by a team, focus on your efforts;
The Response- summarising the outcome that was directly achieved by your efforts
When responding to questions during the interview, addressing your answers using the STAR method, will help showcase your capabilities and suitability for the particular role.
For more in-depth advice and support on the job-seeking process, you can access Design & Build’s detailed job seeker advice here. Otherwise, if you’re currently looking for new opportunities and wanting further guidance as you embark on the early stages of your job search (resume and interview prep) - especially within the construction, engineering or property space - our Design & Build consultants are always willing to help. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
 Morgan, Kate. (2021). The Great Resignation: How Employers Drove Workers To Quit. BBC. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20210629-the-great-resignation-how-employers-drove-workers-to-quit
 Duke, J & Wright. S. (2021). Workers Became More Loyal During The Pandemic But Retrenchments Spiked. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/workers-became-more-loyal-during-the-pandemic-but-retrenchments-spiked-20210707-p587mg.html
 Combs, V. (2021). The Great Resignation of 2021: Are 30% of workers really going to quit? Tech Republic. Retrieved from: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/the-great-resignation-of-2021-are-30-of-workers-really-going-to-quit/
 Alison Doyle. (2020). How Often Do People Change Jobs During A Lifetime? The Balance Careers. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-often-do-people-change-jobs-2060467
 Indeed. (2021). How To Use STAR Interview Response Technique. Indeed: Career Guide. Retrieved from: https://au.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/how-to-use-the-star-interview-response-technique