Whenever you’re making a major career decision like searching for a new job, asking for a raise or a promotion, the first step on this route may be to look around at how the overall job market is doing in relation to your employer and your industry. This knowledge will help you predict how your decision may turn out and which way is best to take to achieve your goals.
Many may find this simple market research confusing and even unrealistic, however. For example statistics may indicate an improvement in employment, but this doesn’t seem to be the case in the number of job openings available or the overall sentiment among jobseekers.
This is in part a result of looking at only piece of the puzzle that even is not the most relevant to an individual situation. In reality, to get information that you can benefit from, you must consider a number of factors that come into play — such as your industry, location and level of employment. For example, an industry — like the financial services or construction — that was severally hit during the recent global downturn may take a longer time to show strong signs of recovery — even if the overall employment is picking up.
There are several steps that can help you get a clear picture before you make a decision regarding your current employment. Here are a few points to consider:
Make sure the information you’re getting from different media outlets are relevant to your specific situation. National average rates may be good to get a sense of the overall picture. But you only can make an informed decision if you’re aware of the details of your city or town. You may be surprised at the disparity between two places that are not very far geographically. In addition to your focus on your area and industry, you also must take a critical look at surveys and studies that may be produced for the advantage of its sponsors. In short, get the facts from reliable sources on your specific area and industry.
This is, again, one of the best ways to get an idea of whether things are picking up or not in your particular industry. The more faces you meet, virtually via social media or in person, the more first-hand experiences you will be able to hear and judge. This may look like a less scientific way than going through figures, data and charts, but it can turn to be a great resource in terms of providing information about employment trends, work conditions, changes in benefits or perks, etc. It also can give you a good insight into changing interviewing techniques and expectations. Even if you’re not actively and immediately looking for work, having such a network of contacts, along with the knowledge it provides, can be a great resource on the market performance.
Learning about the macroeconomics that control your industry takes more than scanning headlines or following of a blog. Try to dig deeper and understand, for example, what a potential merger would mean for your employer, which domestic and international economic issues can impact the industry positively and negatively. This takes a daily involvement and a dedicated follow up of industry news. The more you immerse yourself into the industry, the better you will be poised to make informed decisions based on facts. If your employer seems to be struggling and putting salary increases on hold, for instance, you will be able to know whether it is related to individual business circumstances, or it is a sign of a downturn in the whole industry that may be hitting competitors, as well.
Choosing the right time to make your career move is essential to avoid unnecessary risks such as not finding a job for an extended period of time or getting laid off after a short period of time. Even if you’re only seeking advancement within your current organisation, a thorough knowledge of the industry and your employer’s position can help you figure out ways that will contribute to the success of the overall organisation. Once again, you will be able to pursue your ambition in a realistic and timely manner.
Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently a journalist based in Seattle.