January often is a time for a fresh start, and it seems many of us are keen to get our careers sorted in 2024 (and fair enough - no-one should have to feel unhappy in the wrong role).
New research from LinkedIn found that 76% of women are looking to change jobs in the next 12 months, citing higher salaries as the main reason for wanting to move.
But a job switch, or even trying to improve your current position, can feel like a daunting task. And according to the data, it's us women who are most uncertain in our abilities; 40% of women believe interviewing is the hardest part of the job, while 45% of us admit that we struggle with feelings of anxiousness around the job hunting process.
We also feel knocked back more if we get turned down from a role we desperate want: 60% of women say their confidence is significantly negatively impacted more if they receive a rejection.
If you know you need to improve your working life, but don't know where to begin, try our tips for moving up in any scenario:
If you’re planning a career change
Big up your skills
Already decided that you need to try something new, but can't face a pay cut? Changing careers doesn't have to make a dent in your bank balance.
Grace Donnelly, careers expert at Reed, told us: "The key to standing out when changing careers is how well you can communicate your skills, no matter what your background is. Plenty of soft skills, such as leadership, problem solving and interpersonal skills, are transferable across different types of roles.
"If you frame it right, your unconventional background might even be seen as a strength rather than a weakness."
Charlotte Davies, a career expert at LinkedIn, agrees: "Think about your core skill set and how that aligns to the career you want and if there are any areas you might need to upskill. When it comes to applying for roles… cross reference your skills to the job description and make sure you highlight them as part of your CV.
"Add context by listing them within a specific job, experience, education or project which shows employers what you can do and the value you can bring to their organisation. Remember you don’t have to tick every box and job descriptions should be used as a guide - be sure to highlight transferable skills and a willingness to learn."
Examine your priorities
If your motivation is at an all-time low, it could be worth looking for a low-stress job that pays a lot, because what better way to inspire yourself than with a great pay cheque? Otherwise, you could make a list of companies you aspire to be a part of; here are the most popular ones in the UK, and some have vacancies as we speak.
Worried about a lack of experience? Make the switch easier by trying one of the 20 jobs that have the least competition, which include secondary teaching and veterinary nursing.
Master your CV
Once you've decided on the roles you want to be applying for, you'll need to prepare yourself for an interview. Perfect your CV with these small tweaks to make you more employable, then read up on the dos and don'ts of interviewing, according to managers.
Davies argues it's important that you make your CV pop, particularly when the job market is competitive. "The latest LinkedIn data shows competition for jobs has doubled, with four applicants for every one role," she explains. "It’s the first point of contact with a recruiter or potential employer so it’s worth investing the time to get it into top shape.
"It's important your CV is eye-catching. There are plenty of free and interesting templates online or use the CV template in Microsoft Word.
"Make sure you’re highlighting your achievements, goals and skills that will make you stand out for that specific role. We understand the process is time-consuming, but tailoring is critical - sending out a generic CV can limit your chances of making the cut."
Think about your digital CV too: you might want to start preparing yourself for job-hunting by perfecting your LinkedIn profile. Oh, and those buzzwords ('experienced' is a key one) you thought made you sound super-professional? Turns out employers really hate seeing them.
Rehearse before an interview
Alex Cheatle, the CEO of Ten Lifestyle Group plc, told us that honesty is always key: “We like to ask interview questions that demand honesty to see what the reaction is," he explained. "An example of this would be why someone’s moved around a lot, why they’ve changed career, have gaps in their CV or even whether there are any historic relationships that they’ve maintained."
Interviews are daunting, so Davies believes it's best to rehearse some questions out loud. "You’ll likely be asked questions like: ‘tell me about yourself’, ‘how would you describe yourself?’ or ‘can you tell me about a time when you overcame a difficult situation at work?’ Have responses ready to hand and don’t be afraid to sell yourself - it’s up to you to tell your interviewer about your strengths, accomplishments and why you’d be a great fit for the role," she explains. "If you struggle with this, approach the interview as though you’re advocating for a friend."
"Rehearsing can take the pressure off and can make you much more confident in what you’re saying. In particular, ask the person you’re rehearsing with to ask tricky questions. And, if you don’t have anyone to help, try recording yourself and watching it back or try an online course for a confidence boost."
If you want more from your current job
Seek out your stress points
Feeling frustrated in your role is normal occasionally, and you shouldn't have to quit to achieve job satisfaction. Before you do anything drastic, try to identify what you can do to help ease the stress.
Consider the financials
If you think you aren't being paid as much as you deserve, take a look at how your salary compares to the rest of the UK. If it turns out that your suspicions are correct, it could be time to ask for a pay rise. Pip Jamieson, founder of The Dots says: "The classic mistake is to whinge that you're not being paid enough and, or that you need more money for your social life. Instead, prepare a little script ahead of your chat highlighting the value that you bring to the business, how you love what you do, but feel that you're now worth more."
Davies says there are a few things to be wary of when asking for a payrise: "Have the conversation face to face if possible, and prepare for all possibilities (check comparable salaries, have a list of your achievements and a figure you’d be willing to compromise on).
"Try not to let a ‘no’ derail you and when the time is right, feel free to pick up the discussion again. Consider waiting at least six months if you’re new to a role and only asking once a year as a general benchmark. If you feel like you're not progressing or getting the recognition you deserve it might be time to look elsewhere."
There are other things you might want to consider; asking for flexible working can make a difference to productivity levels and help improve your work-life balance.
Tweak your schedule
According to Gov.uk, any employee has the right to make a statutory application for flexible working if they have been with the company for a minimum of 26 weeks. To do so, you will need to make a formal request in writing, and you can only make one request in any 12-month period. Find more info on how to make a statutory request here.
You may also consider requesting a sabbatical to take some time for yourself and help assess what motivates you.
If you need to focus on motivating yourself at work
Is it... you?
Sorry to say it, but sometimes it’s not the job; it’s you. If you’re feeling like you hate your job, try taking some steps to improve things before you make any snap decisions.
Those after-work wine nights where everyone bashes the boss definitely aren't helping, says Amy Cooper Hakim, PhD, coauthor of Working With Difficult People. “When you need to get it out, speak to a significant other, or a friend outside work,” says Hakim.
Celebrate small joys
She also points out the importance of finding small joys. "When you look for something to be grateful for, your workday becomes so much better," Hakim says.
Feeling under-appreciated is a common reason for employees leaving their role, but your boss might be completely unaware that they're not giving you the credit you deserve. Remember, everyone is different, and your boss' way of expressing themselves could be different to yours. The best thing to do if you're unsure of your performance? Request a review.
If you’re a graduate
Joining the workforce after you've finished studying is seriously daunting, but that first job doesn't have to pave the way for your entire career - so don't put too much pressure to land your dream role immediately.
If you have no idea where to start, make life simpler by looking for work in one of the easiest industries for graduates to find a job - construction and education are both up there.
If you want to focus on your personal or family life
Finding the perfect mix of working hard and enjoying your free-time can feel impossible in some roles - these are the best companies to work for in the UK when it comes to work-life balance.
There are also companies that can cater to your other personal needs - here are the best ones to work for if you're LGBTQ+, if you want time off to plan a wedding or if you want a great maternity package.
And when you land your dream role
The hard work doesn't stop there, of course. Follow our tips for starting a new job, and make sure you present yourself well on social media.
Apart from that? Enjoy it. If you spend a third of your life working, it should at least be rewarding for you.
Want more job tips? Visit our careers section for the latest news and advice.
You Might Also Like