How to know when it's time to job hunt

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How to know when it's time to job hunt
Bryony Kelly

How to know when it's time to job hunt

As the tech market becomes more buoyant, more people are considering swapping jobs. But is now the best time to take the plunge? And if not now, when?

After almost two years of instability, business is booming again.  The ONS recently announced over one million vacancies were recorded between June and August – the highest since records began – as well as that employee numbers had bounced back to pre-pandemic levels. 

In July 2021, almost a third (31%) of people felt stuck in their role due to economic uncertainty. But as the market becomes more buoyant, candidates are beginning to emerge from hiding. The question is: should you join them? 

Yes: what are you waiting for?

After almost two years of deprivation – clamping down on spend, issuing furloughs and redundancies, and pressing pause on important projects, businesses are finally realising they can’t stay static forever.

Recruitment went into overdrive in 2021. In May, tech hiring hit it a five-year high, with over 132,000 recorded vacancies. As well as businesses rushing to catch-up to strategy, almost 20,000 new tech businesses were created in 2020 – or two every hour. More vacancies naturally means more interesting opportunities and better odds to get the role you want (check out our live vacancies here). After all, even though more candidates might be looking to move, the volume of opportunities still far outweighs supply – leading to that supply-demand imbalance which famously tips in the candidate’s favour.

The pressure to find and keep talent, as well as the growth of digital strategy seen during the pandemic, means that businesses are also more willing to negotiate for the right candidate. Recent research from KPMG and APSCo revealed that between a 23 year high for talent demand, and less available candidates due to concerns over job security, pay was accelerating. In fact, the report uncovered a 14-month high for starting salaries, and an 18-month high for temp pay growth.

But it’s not just cash that’s on the discussion table. Over the pandemic, companies were forced to adopt more flexible working practices. While many businesses are still finding their feet in the ‘new normal’, hiring managers will be more receptive to having conversations about flexibility, remote working, and benefits packages up front. Be prepared for an element of uncertainty – many HR departments haven’t made their decisions on hybrid just yet – but there has never been a better time to have an honest conversation about what you expect in your next role.

No: bide your time

It’s true that today’s market could snag you a good deal – a better job, better pay, and better benefits. But it’s also important to see the market for what it is at the moment: frantic. 
The last two years has seen a significant amount of change for both businesses and individuals. Many companies will have lost talent (through their choice or someone else’s), restructured, and re-strategized. That means a lot of exciting opportunities. 

But we’re not quite out of the woods yet – the UK’s furlough scheme has only ended recently and there’s already been talks of what a winter COVID-19 strategy could look like (including a last-resort lockdown). 

Companies are currently playing catch-up after two years of hunkering down – if the market seems fast and chaotic, that’s not necessarily a good sign. This is when rushed, desperate decisions are made (on both sides). This could end up affecting you in a new role if the rush to get people in isn’t properly thought through. Naturally, this goes for culture too. While now is a great time to negotiate your contract, don’t forget that many companies are in flux right now. Their excellent work from home policy might not stick, nor may the culture, people, department, or need. 

Another reason to bide your time is internal mobility. You won’t be the only one weighing up your options, and other companies aren’t the only ones rethinking their strategy. If you’re otherwise happy at your company but looking for something more – maybe progression or a change in direction – now might be the best time to bring that conversation up, when your business is conscious of the talent-crunch and in acceleration mode.

So when is the best time to job hunt?

How long is a piece of string? Moving jobs is never an easy decision. 

The market at the moment is incredibly candidate-driven – there’s no doubt that there are more opportunities out there than ever before, more flexible, and open-minded companies, and more exciting projects happening. But it’s also true that we’re in a period of change, and change can be unsettling – for everyone. Whether you stick or twist, job security is never 100% guaranteed. 

So, with that in mind, the best time to move jobs is based on a number of things – whether you’re being challenged, whether there’s room for growth, and whether you enjoy what you do. Culture should also play an important role in your decision-making, especially as companies respond to changes in climate. You should also be aware of your situation, such as the importance of location, flexibility, work-life balance, and benefits in your life. 

It never hurts to keep your options open and to see what’s on the market. To get started, make a priority list of what’s important in a role for you (taking your existing role out of the equation). Check against what you currently have, what you want, and what you think you can get. Then take a look at what’s out there. At the very least, exploring options outside of your current company will enable you to benchmark your skillsets and understand what you should reasonably be able to ask for, even if you decide not to move. 

If something catches your eye, don’t be afraid to put your CV in and even attend an interview. Think of it like the step from window shopping to trying something on – you don’t have to buy anything, and it might even help you work our whether you want someone new or if what you have at home actually fits perfectly. You might even find a role you would have never even considered before. 

Check out our live vacancies to see what roles might suit you or read our blog on interview tips before you start applying. 

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