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Transition Time

In many industries, January and February are the peak hiring months. If you're looking to start 2020 with a new position or vocation, it might be time to talk to a recruiter.

Michele Chiappetta
Sarah Eliza Roberts
December 28, 2019

So, you want a new job for the new year. You’re not alone. Moving jobs or switching careers is a common New Year resolution. And with an estimated 7 million job openings around the country as of September 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s tempting to think leaving one job and finding another will be easy. But it’s a strategic process, and finding your way through it takes persistence and savvy.

One Tulsa company that helps people find new placements is Switchgear, headed by owner Dixie Agostino and CEO Liz Brolick. A local, women-owned business that celebrated its ninth year in October 2019, Switchgear specializes in recruiting largely for areas such as engineering, manufacturing, and information technology. Its goal, says Brolick, is to put the human back into human resources and be a true partner with the clients and businesses they serve.

Everyone has needed to find a job at one time or another, and the team at Switchgear takes that seriously. “It can mess with someone’s ego and sanity to not have people who are being true partners in their job search,” says Brolick. “We try to talk to candidates we think we can help. Even those we can’t help — we send people out with a toolkit for job searches.”

As a recruiting firm, Switchgear concentrates on working with companies in the Tulsa area that either don’t have an HR person or don’t have a local HR team to handle local hiring. “They come to us with specific needs and skill sets, background requirements, and educational requirements. When companies hire us, it’s because what they need is specific — usually, some trait or skill that makes what our clients are looking for just a little more difficult to find. We go out and find those people who match.”

Right now, she says, the hiring market is competitive, especially for people with specialized skills such as engineers, software developers, and architects. It’s a candidate-driven market at the moment, which means it’s a good time to start looking for something new.

So, what should you do if you’re ready to make a job change in 2020? Here are some tips.

Expect the process to take time
The days of applying for a job and getting hired within a few weeks are, for the most part, long past. Plan for the process to take four to six months. If you want to be in a new job by fall, start looking now, and look at job postings daily. “People can post 24/7, so you need to be looking all the time,” says Brolick. “Use the internet to help you. Set up Google alerts and send yourself notices when positions are posted on sites like LinkedIn or Indeed.”

Know your true salary
“Many people don’t have a strong understanding of how much money they are bringing home,” says Brolick. This isn’t just the number on your paycheck. Benefits such as how much you pay for insurance and how much is paid for by your employer count too, but many people forget to include that in their calculations. “The last thing you want to have happen is to get an offer that appears to be a huge raise, but it’s not a raise at all,” says Brolick. “Be able to compare apples to apples, and be sure you know what your paycheck looks like.”

Update your resume
“This is always the hardest part,” admits Brolick. No one enjoys resume writing, probably because it’s hard to put on paper what we’ve done at work. While it’s tempting to just cut and paste in your job description, this doesn’t tell employers much about you. Try to quantify what you’ve done with tangible results. Show what you can bring to the table. Brolick suggests listing accomplishments you’re proud of, things you enjoyed doing and want to do again.

Master the art of LinkedIn
“I love LinkedIn,” says Brolick. “I think it’s a great resource for people who use it well.” Keep your profile up-to-date, and be sure it matches your resume and portrays who you are as a person. It’s smart to do so, because recruiters like Brolick have special access to LinkedIn, and they use it frequently. But to appear in their searches, your profile has to be specific, complete, and up-to-date with the keywords you want your resume to pop up for.

Freshen your interview skills
If it’s been a minute since you last interviewed for a job, you may be surprised by how interview styles have changed. “If it’s been five years or more since you interviewed last, the process looks different,” says Brolick. Phone, Skype, and Xoom interviews are common, so you’ll need to be ready to use the tech. Beyond that, it still pays to prepare answers to common questions. Researching on sites like Glassdoor can help you find out the types of interview questions that may come up at your target employers.

Share your accomplishments
“When you’re talking about yourself and what you’ve done at work, the things you’ve accomplished, goals you’ve achieved and metrics you’ve met, the majority of people are uncomfortable talking about that,” says Brolick. Why? They worry it’s bragging. But in a job search, you have to talk specifics so employers know what you can do. “The piece of advice I give is, if what you’re saying is true, it’s not bragging; it’s just a fact. It is what it is.”

Don't just apply online
While online applications are easier than ever, it’s not the best approach if you’re looking to switch careers or step into a new role. In those cases, you need to find someone willing to take a chance on you. “These opportunities come about through networking,” says Brolick. “Start talking to people who are doing the job you want to do so you can identify gaps — what you need to learn, certifications you need.” In your current job, if you want to switch departments, find someone who works where you want to work and offer to help.

201 W. 5th St., Suite 300 | Tulsa