If you're considering a job switch in the near future, you face several significant obstacles. Unemployment in the tech sector typically has one of the lowest rates of any industry — making for few existing job vacancies and stiff competition. Crowding the field are more and more college graduates bringing significant skill sets to the workplace, all of whom are poised to take lower-paying entry-level jobs. Add to that the speculation that the current industry growth rate may not last long, and you've got yourself an uphill climb.
However, all that isn't to say you can't land a better job. It just means you've got to bear down, make preparations, and do the necessary work to find one.
1. Prepare Your Finances
The first thing to do when considering a job change is to tighten up your finances. The cost of a job search is not insignificant, and you may very well find yourself in a new position with a lower salary. Therefore, it's important to implement the following four steps:
- Get yourself on a budget. Set up a strict personal budget, and make sure you are spending less than you are currently earning each month.
- Reduce monthly bills. Look for unnecessary fees in your monthly bills and work to get them eliminated. Consider cheaper plans for your cell phone, cable TV and Internet.
- Establish an emergency fund. You should aim to save at least six months' worth of living expenses.
- Maintain retirement savings. The last thing you want to do is dip into your retirement savings to facilitate a job change. If it's unavoidable, just make sure you have a plan in place to return the money as quickly as possible.
2. Educate Yourself
It's a given that completing courses, achieving certifications, or earning a bachelor's or master's degree in certain IT fields can make you more attractive to potential employers. But how do you pay for it?
In addition to the above-mentioned tips, consider an old-school approach to saving: couponing. Try apps like Grocery IQ and Yowza. Also, look for ways to reduce home energy costs — for example, if you adjust your home thermostat by just three degrees in either direction you can save up to 20%. You may even want to move to a smaller place if possible — in order to reduce your monthly rent and utilities payments. Saving a little here and there can add up to a monthly student loan payment if you're diligent and dedicated in your approach.
3. Consider Starting Your Own Business
Another great option when transitioning to a new job is to start your own consulting business. If you have the wherewithal to do this while still working at your current day job, the financial risks can be significantly mitigated.
Alert family and friends and start marketing yourself via social media. Open up business accounts on Facebook and Twitter, and interact regularly with your fans and followers. Social media enthusiasts also love participating in surveys and provocative discussions, so take advantage of them.
Alternatively, you could do part-time work for an additional income stream. The IT industry, particularly software development, can often be done remotely. This could give you experience in a different environment, improving your skill set and overall marketability. It may be easier to generate a target income by staying at your current job with part-time work than finding the perfect new job with the perfect salary, especially in such a competitive market.
4. Don't Sell Yourself Short
The tech industry wasn't hit quite as hard as other sectors during the recession, and it's doing better than many of them now, too. Research the average salary for any jobs you're considering. This allows you to gain insight into what you can reasonably expect, and it can be a significant help when the time comes to negotiate your next salary. Decide for yourself whether purchasing a paid salary report is worth the investment.
Finally, remember that proper resume preparation is critical, even if you're well-established in your field. Consider hiring a professional to assist you in your efforts. And though a job change is not a simple proposition, if you're frustrated and unhappy in your current position, exploring the option is probably well worth it.
If you're considering a job switch, are you also considering your finances?