Friday 22 August 2014

What's the right amount of time to stay with a company?

Asking how long you should stay with an employer is like asking how long a piece of string is: it depends on how much (time) you need.

According to McCrindle research, the average Australian employee's tenure is just over three years, and those who belong to Gen Y remain in their roles for little more than two and a half years.

While the days of starting work and retiring with the same company may be coming to an end, that doesn't mean you should scratch the two-year itch. You need to consider a number of factors before jumping ship.

Why am I considering working for another company?

A lot of people find themselves stuck in a rut and subsequently feel as though working for another company is their only escape. Common reasons for leaving include:
  • I no longer find my work challenging or enjoyable.
  • I don't get paid as much as I should.
  • I don't get along with my colleagues/I don't like the company culture.
  • I can't attain the flexibility I need to fit my lifestyle.
  • I've decided to take my career in a different direction.
If you work for a small company, the allure of working for a big-name firm can be tempting, especially if accompanied by greater financial rewards. Be sure you're comfortable with the change in culture, clients and role. Working for a big firm looks prestigious on your resume, but there may be fewer chances to make an impact or advance quickly, which could mean staying in a junior position longer.
Some employees like to switch to smaller firms because they feel they can make a difference. However, they could be giving up benefits such as a higher salary or study and travel opportunities.
Have I done all I can at my current organisation?
In many cases, the symptoms above can be remedied by a change of role rather than leaving for another company. Also think about untapped opportunities at your current workplace. Perhaps you could join a leadership program, or extend your education? These decisions may affect your willingness to move on.
With tenure you may also be able to negotiate better because you exert greater influence, so pushing for a pay rise or beneficial working conditions could become easier as time goes on.
What's the opportunity cost if I stay?
While the prospect of changing roles has its appeal, you also need to consider what you may be giving up by sticking around. This could be anything from better pay, conditions and opportunities to gaining a diversity of experience.
Starting anew may also be the easiest way to jump into a higher salary bracket, leverage beneficial working conditions, secure a new career title and expand your network rather than doing this over time in the same workplace. This makes the question of 'how long?' a question of 'how patient are you?' and 'what will you do today to make it happen?'  

Student MembershipGive yourself the edge with free Student Membership
If you are a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you progress in your career journey.

Find out about Student Membership.

Thursday 21 August 2014

Acing your interview: Commercial awareness

A job interview is about more than just how you and your skill set will fill an available role. Many employers will want to know how commercially aware you are – and that requires some preparation.
Here are some common topics you should cover, and the research you’ll need to do to ensure you are adequately prepared to answer all types of questions.

About us

It goes without saying that you should investigate the organisation that may well become your employer. This research will give you an idea of what the organisation does, as well as how they want to be viewed in the marketplace.

The company’s website is an obvious place to start. Check their ‘About us’ page, but also any newsletters, media releases and blogs from recent months to get an idea of their history and the kind of activities they engage in. Employers will appreciate a candidate who is well versed in their company’s ethos and has a firm grounding in how they operate day to day. Consider who their typical clients might be, who their direct competitors are and what the key differences between this company and their competitors are.

Also try to get a sense of their culture. You can do this directly by speaking to people who work there. This is easier if there is already someone within your network employed at the company – you can take them out for coffee and have a chat – or there may be opportunities at networking events to find someone from the organisation.

Indirectly, take a look at networking platforms like LinkedIn. Do employees tend to stick around in their roles? Are they promoted from within? Have they been given educational opportunities while at the organisation? What do they have to say about their managers and colleagues?

Public knowledge

How people outside the organisation view it is also important. You can get a sense of this from the company’s social media engagement. What sort of messages are they trying to send? How do they engage with the wider community, and vice versa? Are they socially savvy? Do they even have a social presence?

News and media coverage over the last year may also give you some insight. Use a search engine to trawl through news coverage of the organisation from the past year. Is the coverage positive or negative? If the coverage is largely different from the messages on the organisation’s website, that will also tell you a few things about your potential employer.

Industry insider

Getting a feel for the industry in general is also a good idea so you have context for where the organisation sits. Media coverage is a good indicator, but delve a little deeper for insight from industry associations, journals and conferences. If you’ve started early by getting involved in the industry as a student and attending networking functions and industry events, you’ll have firsthand knowledge to draw on.

You may also find that competitors have a thing or two to say about the organisation. Although you need to view these comments with a contextual lens, you can often get a sense of how your potential employer is regarded within the industry.

Dedicated research will allow you to see the current issues and changes affecting the industry, as well as how your potential employer compares to its competitors. Being commercially savvy means knowing why you’re interested in the industry – and why you want the job on offer.

Student MembershipGive yourself the edge with free Student Membership
If you are a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you progress in your career journey.

Find out about Student Membership.