With job searches taking longer, there are more jobseekers bumping up against their severance deadline (or their own mental deadline that tells them they should have found a job by now).
A popular question that I hear often is how long you should hold out for that dream job before moving to plan B.
The answer is different for everyone:
What is your time urgency? Have you run the actual numbers on your cash cushion runs out? The shorter the time you have, the wider your net has to be. Even if your dream company/ industry/ functional area is hiring, when you have a short timeframe, you need to have multiple searches well underway.
What is your risk appetite? Some people are energized by putting all their focus on their passion. Some people would be so nervous that they couldn’t do their best work. Some people are distracted doing more than one thing at a time so they have to decide on plan A or B, but can only choose one.
What are your dream job prospects? Are you looking to break into the subprime mortgage origination business, or are you looking into alternative energy? Some sectors are hotter than others. Growing industries will hire faster. Newer industries will hire people with less experience (since by default everyone has less experience in brand new industries) and are more open to career changers.
These are just some of the issues that you have to weigh. The work involves actually thinking through these issues – calculating your financial obligations v. your reserves, examining your will, researching your target sectors. It is not a single right or wrong answer, but more of a process and series of actions. In this way, it is less about waiting and more about doing. The best jobseekers are proactive and don’t wait.
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Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of a career coaching firm for Gen Y professionals. Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline most recently headed University Relations for Time Inc and has also recruited for Accenture, Citibank, Disney ABC, and others. Caroline is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Professional Development at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs and posts at CNBC Executive Careers and Vault.com. Contact her at email@example.com.
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