As an avid golfer in my spare time, Iíve long been aware how important good transitions are to making an effective swing and having success on the course. From the backswing to the follow-through, how you start your move usually dictates how and where youíll end up.
If youíre an engineer who is contemplating, or is in the process of, making a move from one company to another in 2015, the same principles hold true. With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, it's certainly a good time for engineers and project managers to potentially advance their careers, salaries and benefits.
But let me say upfront, by no means am I encouraging engineers to change jobs. Remember, the grass isn't always greener on the other side. And to take the metaphor further, just like on a golf course, there may be sand traps to avoid surrounding the "green" you're shooting for. Ultimately, whether a move is successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
Kelly Engineering Resources, where I work, is the third-largest supplier of engineering talent in the US. Weíve done a lot of research on the subject of job satisfaction, or the lack thereof, on the part of engineers. According to our 2014 Kelly Global Workforce Index, 60% of engineers cite dissatisfaction with salary, benefits, and financial incentives as a reason to look for another job. Thirty-eight percent cite an inferior work-life balance as a reason to make a career move, and 20% state a lack of global or international opportunities as a reason to change jobs.
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So itís a given that a lot of you will be making moves in the future. But itís important to keep in mind that just because youíre going someplace new doesnít mean it will be forever. Think about this: Someday, you may want to make a return to your old place of employment. Social media loves to share information. Coworkers talk. You never know what will follow you from job to job.
This is why itís important not just to make the right move, but to make that move the right way. If youíve (wisely) spent time reviewing exactly why you want to make a departure from your current employer, youíll want to spend a little more time thinking about how you want your transition to be successful and go smoothly.
Once youíve committed to the move, a critical element in your transition to think about is the resignation process, one of the most sensitive aspects of transitioning to a new job. Even if youíve signed a contract with your new employer and agreed on a start date, itís crucial that you handle your exit from your current organization professionally. Remember, you donít know when youíll need a reference from your current boss or a former colleague, so do everything you can to ensure an amicable resignation process.
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For example, donít use your resignation as a way to leverage a counteroffer from your current manager. You should be 100% certain that you will be leaving your current employer, as well as prepared to leave immediately in the event youíre asked to. Handle things professionally and be respectful. Make an appointment with your manager to resign in person. State the exact date youíll leave. Volunteer no more information than necessary.
If you can, offer to help make the transition to your replacement as smooth as possible. Then follow up your verbal resignation with a written letter to your manager and the human resources department. This formally indicates the termination of your employment and will be added to your employee file. Thank your boss for the time you spent at the company. In your letter, state again that youíre willing to help make a smooth transition to your replacement and also indicate your intentions to remain on good terms.
While opportunities are everywhere, the shortage of engineers also means thereís probably a lot of work on the table where youíre going. This means youíll be expected to get up to speed right away. So try to jump right into the mix quickly because your first months at your new company lay the foundation for the rest of your career there. The sooner you can become productive, the better your job prospects and the higher your chances of a successful career. Thatís why itís important that you make the most of your orientation process, get to know the companyís culture and learn how to navigate it as soon as possible.
Transitions are a part of life, and as an engineer, they are sure to be part of yours. When Iím golfing, I try to start my swing from the top with a smooth move, connect and follow through. If you do the same with your job transition, youíll stay on course every time.
Staffing Industry Analyst, July 18, 2014
Tim McAward is vice president and engineering product leader for Kelly Services, a leading provider of workforce solutions headquartered in Troy, Mich.