Improving the Odds For Changing Jobs

If you’ve been marking time at work and hoping to get a new job, you’ve got company. Employment experts caution, though, that moving too quickly could land you in a new job that you dislike even more. Here are some ways to improve the odds of finding the right one.

• Re-evaluate the situation. Think about why you’re dissatisfied at your current job. If you aren’t challenged enough, there might be a way to make a change without leaving. “There may be ways that your job can be changed for the better or your role in the company expanded to offer more challenges,” says Tony Mulkern, a management consultant in Los Angeles. Scout job openings in other departments or at higher levels that you may qualify for with some additional extended education or skills and ask your manager to support your effort to get the training you need.

• Reach out. If the opportunities just aren’t there or you’re simply dissatisfied and aching to move, tap your personal and professional network for information on who is hiring. Many job postings go up with a candidate in mind already, if you know someone at the companies you are targeting—or someone in your network does—work to get personal referrals.

But be discreet with your inquiries. Keep requests off social-networking websites like Facebook and Linkedin—they can be indexed by search engines and discovered by anyone, including your current boss.

• Do your homework. When you land an interview, use the opportunity to learn about the company. You should get as much from them as they will try to get from you, says Sharon Armstrong, a human-resources consultant in Washington. Salary and benefits are important, but so is fit. It’s difficult to tell what the workplace culture is like from casual visits. Don’t be shy about calling for more information and contact current and former employees, if possible, to get a feel for the company and opportunities.

If you get an offer, before you accept, consider doing more in-depth financial research on the company. Try The Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR Public Dissemination Service ( For private firms and startups, Gail Rosen, an accountant in Martinsville N.J., says to look for a profit-and-loss statement, a balance sheet, references, a business plan and a list of where the company is getting funding.

“You may not get that all but it doesn’t hurt to ask, and they might at least give you something else you can use,” she says. Some information also can be found on fee services like Hoovers or on business blogs.

• Leap carefully. Whatever you do, don’t quit your job until you’re certain you’re hired, says Ms. Armstrong. “Even if a job offer seems imminent, there are a lot of things that can happen at the last minute.”

If your current company wants to keep you and replies with a counteroffer, keep in mind why you’re leaving. “People seldom move just for money, so don’t be swayed by a bigger paycheck if everything else stays the same,” says Ms. Armstrong. “Job satisfaction comes from a lot of different places. If the boss offers to help change the other things that are making you unhappy, that might be worth at least discussing.”