The job market is still running hot, with unemployment hitting just 3.5%–the level it was at in February 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States–and over 10 million job openings still available to workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In July 2022 alone, the job market added over 500,000 jobs.
This is all to say, despite worries of an impending recession and a slow down in hiring, there are still millions of opportunities out there for job seekers to make a change and find their right career path.
Korryn Williamson, director of DE&I at Insight Global, talked to Focus Atlanta about what job seekers can do to make a career change in the current job market. She listed four primary things you can do to find the career path and company for you.
1. Find Your Passion
The first step in making a career change is to figure out what you’re passionate about. Williamson referenced a book called Good to Great by Jim Collins as a source that tied together what job seekers should be looking for in a career.
The three pillars of someone’s career should include a mix of:
- What you’re passionate about
- What you think you can be the best at
- Something that has an “economic engine”
That last one is vital, as you need to have a way to make money off doing something you’re both passionate and good at.
“If you can find an intersection of those three things,” Williamson said, “you will feel really fulfilled with your career.”
2. Find the Right People
Another important part of finding the right career path is finding the right people to work with.
“I think it’s important to have strong leadership teams, strong relationships, and a place where you have strong trust and communication,” she said.
These are all linked to employee retention. If a company has excellent leadership teams, strong relationships among its workers, and there is open trust and communication among the employee base, there is a decent chance that company has a strong culture and retention rate. If a company doesn’t have these qualities, you may find yourself in a position where quiet quitting becomes your go-to.
Even if you work remotely, you still communicate with and have to trust people on a daily basis. You want to enjoy working with these people, and you also want to make sure they are invested in you as a person.
It’s hard to find all of this out beforehand, though, so that leads to the next point that…
3. Make Sure Your Values Align
“Figure out what an organization’s values are and what your personal values are,” Williamson said.
As far as your values, she suggested writing them down on paper, which makes them feel more real and tangible. It also helps you rank what matters most to you personally. Don’t budge on these “must-haves when it comes to finding your next opportunity,” she said.
Must-haves from a company may include things like a:
- DE&I plan
- Positive company culture
- Commitment to sustainability
- Wellness program(s)
- Parental leave options that suit your needs
- Flexible work environment
- Stance on certain political or social issues
“An employer may be interviewing you, but you’re also interviewing them,” Williamson said.
A lot of this can take place before an actual interview, too, so you can see if it’s even worth applying to the company in the first place.
You can conduct research on sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and ZipRecruiter that can paint a decent picture of the company’s culture. You can also conducts news searches on the company to see if they have appeared in the news for reasons good or bad.
Lastly, reach out to employees who currently work there. Ask them questions (if they’re receptive) about the company’s values and what it’s like working there. All of this proactivity can save you time. It clears up what companies you’d like to apply to and which ones you wouldn’t.
4. Start Making the Change toward your new career path
If you want to switch companies or career paths, or you’re feeling frustrated in your current situation, start making the change.
That sounds like a big task, but that start can be as small as updating your resume or reaching out to someone who works at a company you’re interested in. The small steps of change will snowball into momentum toward a new career path.
As you move from thinking of making a career change to actually it putting into work, you’ll start to land interviews and opportunities to find your new path. However, you shouldn’t accept the first opportunity for change that comes your way if it feels like you’re settling.
“The right opportunity will find you,” Williamson said, and don’t settle if it doesn’t match up with your values, passion, and what you’re good at. If the stars align, though, take that chance and enjoy your new opportunity!