Take this ten-question quiz to find out whether a job search should be at the top of your “to do” list.
1. Financial Performance: How well is your company performing financially? Even if cash reserves are plentiful or a downturn is explainable by one-time factors, many executives will be tempted to cut staff in order to keep shareholders happy. The worse your company is performing, the more likely layoffs or some other type of consolidation is near.
2. Office Politics: How much of your current workday consists of meeting goals dictated by office politics rather than company performance? The more political your office, the harder it will be for you to receive increases and other recognition based on your actual contributions to the company. When (or if) you leave your current employer, you want to be able to say you did more than attend to the Vice President’s every whim. The more office politics, the more you should consider a job change.
3. Communication: Are you notified of executive replacements before or after the general public? Do you have the straight scoop on possible layoffs, or do you learn more about your company’s downsizing on the six o’clock news than in the office? Companies worth working for treat their employees with enough respect that they receive pertinent information in a timely manner. In addition to making you feel foolish, a lack of communication will hamper your productivity and possibly have you working at cross-purposes with the new company goals.
4. Company-Based Competition: Who are the global, regional and local competition your company faces? What will prevent competitors from providing their goods or services into your markets at a cheaper, faster rate? If your company faces stiff competition, will they be able to market innovatively enough to maintain their position?
5. Location-Based Competition: Is your company contemplating a move in order to lower operating costs, such as wages, taxes and real estate? If wages and other costs are high, your company could be making plans to relocate. Would you stay with the company and move to a new location, or would you prefer to work in a different company while remaining in the same place? For instance, Silicon Valley high-tech companies might be considering a relocation to a less expensive high-tech center.
6. Profession-Related Technology: How is technology impacting your profession? For instance, the number and quality of secretarial jobs changed drastically as word processors and personal computers became standard office equipment. What steps are you taking now, in your current position, to make sure you remain competitive in the face of technological change?
7. Industry-Related Technology and Other Industry Trends: Telecommunications companies seem to be on a merger-and-acquisition frenzy. While that may make their shareholders happy, employees may be frustrated, asked to relocate or out of a job. In addition, wireless technology in telecommunications is driving the trend for consumer-type appliances and services. What technology and other trends are occurring in your industry? Should you consider a similar position, but in a different industry? For instance, should you consider another accounting position, but with a banking firm instead of a computer firm?
8. Recent Achievements: What did you achieve in 2005? Did you work on special projects, get a promotion, or work on a team that solved your company’s problems? Be sure to write down your accomplishments in a place where you can refer to them later. If all you can come up with is, “Showed up; got a paycheck,” you may want to consider a more challenging job in the new year.
9. Length of Time With Employer: Have you been with your current employer for five years or more? If you have, it’s not an automatic sign you should change jobs, but you want to be sure that you still have the sharply-honed skills and flexibility of someone just hired. This makes questions eight and ten in this quiz all the more important for you. (It also helps if you stayed with one employer, but changed departments or positions. If you have been in the same position and with the same employer for five years or more, ask yourself what you would do if you were handed a pink slip today.)
10. New Skills or Education: What new job-related skills did you learn this year? Did you take a course, learn a foreign language or work on completing your degree? How many books did you read this year? Don’t tolerate a job that does not allow you the time and space sharpen your mental skills for longer than six months, and for the six months you do tolerate such conditions, be sure you are well-compensated. Think of it as part of the regular investment you make in yourself, similar to contributing to your retirement plan.
One to two negative answers to the above questions may mean that you need to talk to your bosses, consider an in-company transfer or take some initiative to broaden your skill development. However, if you answered negatively to three or more questions, you might want to start revising your resume now.