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By Sibyl McCarley – Fast Company

You couldn’t ask for a better time to move to a new job, especially if you’ve been considering a life-changing decision. People’s experience with pandemic stress and job burnout sparked a reevaluation of life’s priorities. As a result, more people than ever are considering changing jobs.

Other factors make it an ideal job transition time, too. There’s a workforce shortage that’s generating high demand for employees. The U.S. Department of Labor reported a record 9.3 million job openings in June 2021. The rate of private-sector employees voluntarily quitting their jobs also hit a record 2.8% in Q2. In addition, remote work has created new work opportunities no longer limited by physical distance.

While 2021 is shaping up to be the year of the job seeker, changing jobs isn’t without risks. There’s the uncertainty about whether you will find a new role challenging or fulfilling. You may be concerned about job security or unplanned reductions in your hours and wages. As you navigate the current job market, there are some steps you can take and signs to watch for that will help you land in the right spot.

QUESTIONS THAT UNCOVER THE GOOD, THE GREAT, AND THE RED FLAGS

The concepts of where, when, and how we work have changed dramatically. Leading employers are rethinking ways to prevent employee burnout. They’re responding with a more human-centric approach. Prioritizing employee well-being and cultivating healthier work environments in which employees feel connected has become a top priority.

What are your priorities for a new job and workplace? Keep in mind the hiring process is your opportunity to research and understand the kind of work experience you can expect with a new employer. Ask questions that will provide insight into what matters most to you in a new work situation, such as:

  • Why is this position open? Is this a new position created because of growth, or would I be replacing someone who has left? What is the turnover like in this role? High turnover should be a red flag. It could be the result of misalignment between stated job responsibilities and actual expectations on the job, or possibly a difficult manager to work for. If it is a new position, ask how it supports the overall company goals, as well as how success in the role will be defined.
  • What was/is your return-to-office plan? Do employees have flexibility in how and when they return? Organizations that value their employees and want to retain them will fully consider their people’s return-to-office preferences.
  • What is your approach to work-life flexibility? Is this a company-wide policy or is it determined by each manager? Healthy workplaces recognize that people have multiple roles they juggle on a daily basis – employees, parents, caregivers, partners, friends, volunteers, and more. They create written policies that enable employees to flex their time to take care of all responsibilities, including their own mental and physical well-being. Ask questions that allow you to determine if the flexibility a company offers can meet your needs. The lack of this type of policy or leaving the policy to be defined by each manager are red flags.
  • What resources and benefits do you offer to support employees? Organizations that prioritize their employees support well-being from multiple angles to meet employees’ individual needs. Look for mental health resources, discounted rates for nearby fitness centers, multiple forms of family leave, and flexible scheduling for childcare needs. You will be able to understand how an organization values its employees by noticing how support for employee wellness is communicated during the hiring process.
  • How do you encourage employees to recharge? Listen carefully to see if PTO is not only available but encouraged. Look for a culture that respects time away from work, one that allows employees to truly disconnect to get a mental break. Healthy workplaces value PTO as essential for employees to recharge and avoid burnout.   

EVALUATE YOUR EXPERIENCE

Creating candidate-centric hiring experiences was already a goal for many employers pre-pandemic. Now, with the high demand for workers and the shortage of candidates, job seekers can expect to see employers make hiring even more personal.

Use these questions to evaluate how potential employers prioritize you:

  • Does the company use a hiring process or platform that is efficient, helpful, and easy to navigate?
  • Is the information you provide carried forward, so you are not asked the same questions at every step?
  • Do you have the opportunity to view employee videos, meet your hiring manager and get insight from current employees about the work experience?
  • Are interviewers well-prepared not only about the role but about your background and information you have already provided?
  • Do you have the opportunity to get an honest look at the role and organization through pre-hire assessments?

Finally, consider whether the employer is inviting you into a transparent hiring process that helps you make a good decision, too. Organizations that value their employees are stepping up engagement with candidates pre-hire so that everyone involved can make an informed decision. If an organization values you during the hiring process, it’s a good sign that they will also value you as an employee.

Remember, higher starting wages and sign-on bonuses can make an employer look very attractive. Don’t lose sight of your initial reasons for changing jobs and the kind of work environment that will be most healthy for you.

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