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More than a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, many American employees who have been working from home are itching to get moving again.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean returning to the office. For many, it means finding new jobs.
A survey released by Bankrate.com this week found that 55% of Americans plan to look for a new position in the next year.
Their top motivations: greater flexibility and higher pay.
Dubbed the Great Resignation, the expected influx of career moves comes as there are millions of unfilled positions in certain industries.
But before leaping at the next opportunity, workers would be wise to assess what they truly want, said Roger Ma, certified financial planner, founder of Lifelaidout and author of the book, “Work Your Money, Not Your Life: How to Balance Your Career and Personal Finances to Get What You Want.”
“The first thing I would do is figure out are you running from something or are you running toward something you’re excited about?” Ma said.
“If you’re running from something, like you don’t like your job for some reason, I would take the time to think about what you want in a job.”
In some cases, in today’s job market, you may not necessarily have to change jobs at all.
Sometimes, one small change to your current role can make all the difference, Ma said.
You may consider volunteering for a project that interests you on either your team or another team. For example, if you’re in a sales role and want to get more strategy experience, you may offer to help come up with your team’s 2022 business plan.
“That allows you to experiment to get more data to be able to figure out what you like and what you don’t like, but also might be able to help you fill any skills gap,” Ma said.
Alternatively, you may want to consider cultivating experience outside of your current role.
Oftentimes people are looking for this perfect job that offers everything from intellectual stimulation to sufficient pay to positive social engagement, Ma said. “That’s a lot to put pressure on one job to do that.”
By picking up a side hustle, you may be able to fill in some of those gaps. For example, that can be a place where you put your entrepreneurial skills to work if you can’t do that in your day job.
Many workers tend to think they can either work a full-time job or start a business.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be an either/or situation,” Ma said. “You may be able to do both, and it could be easier than you think.”
The key to success with a side hustle is to go into it with a clear intention of what you plan to accomplish and re-evaluate that along the way, he said.
Admittedly, there may be signs that your current role is no longer a fit and it’s time to move on.
“There’s not really an ideal job where you’re going to get everything,” Ma said. “So it’s important to prioritize what are those two to three ‘need-to-haves,’ non-negotiables in a job, and what are the ‘nice-to-haves.'”
Deal breakers may include limited growth opportunity or poor work/life balance.
Keep in mind that “musts” you had in your 20s may significantly change in your 30s and 40s, so it’s important to periodically reevaluate those ideals.
“There’s seasons in your career,” Ma said. “Those ‘need to haves’ can and do evolve over time for people.”
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In the current job market, it may be tempting to consider leaving your job before you find a new one.
“I would caution people from making those kneejerk reactions,” Ma said.
How much financial runway you have should be a key consideration before making such move. To calculate that number, take your savings and divide it by your monthly expenses to see how long you could fund your current lifestyle.
Also keep in mind that even though the job market has tipped in employees’ favor, some realities still hold true.
It’s generally easier to find a new job if you already have a job, Ma said. Plus, it puts you in a better position to negotiate your salary.
Other financial planning tips to help your job search include:
- Calculate the minimum salary you need. Add up your monthly expenses and your savings goals to figure out the minimum salary you need. Online salary calculators can be helpful to figure out what your take home pay would be if you relocate to another city, Ma said.
- Identify where you can trim your budget. If you’re planning to transition to another career, streamlining your expenses can help smooth the change. See where you can cut down on areas like rent or cable subscriptions. “Maybe that helps fund the gap,” Ma said.
- Look for ways to negotiate a better deal. If you leave your job now, you could forfeit a year-end bonus. You may be able to make yourself whole on that by negotiating a full bonus rather than a prorated bonus, for example.