Talent Acquisition

9 Questions to Ask Candidates About Career Change

It’s both the worst and the best time of year to be thinking about changing careers. The new year is only just behind us, so a change is likely to seem appealing, yet winter means we’re getting less sunlight and less likely to have a positive attitude towards work. However, your candidates probably have very valid reasons to be considering a change.

If your candidate is considering one of these points it doesn’t mean they will completely up-sticks, but if they are answering yes to at least three of the following indicators, you might want to speak to them about why they are consider changing jobs and what you can do to help them pursue a more positive working life. Some of these problems can be solved without moving jobs; they may just need a good chat with you to help them decide.

Here are the 9 questions you should be asking your candidates who may seem a little unhappy in their current job or if they have asked you to find them something else.

1. Are you checking job alerts every day?

If your candidate is searching for a job at their favourite brand then alarm bells should start to ring. It’s not a surprise really, as many of us like to check job vacancies every morning. It can just be an ego-boost, but it can also show them the types of opportunities outside of their current role, suggesting they might want or need a change.

2. Are you bored?

How long are your candidates spending on the internet a day? A survey of British workers suggests that 33% do not find their jobs fulfilling and 37% think their job is ‘meaningless’, so they’re not alone. There is, however a difference between the general boredom that comes with working 8 hours+ a day, and actual “I can’t do this anymore” boredom. If it’s the latter, a career change for them might be a good idea.

3. Do you have any work friends?

This can be a huge dampener on anyone’s day-to-day attitude. As most people spend a lot of their life at work, not having a friend they can rely on, can leave them feeling unappreciated and lonely. True, not everyone has the same social needs, but it definitely helps. Despite what you might think, the power of social relationships is more valuable to humans than a high salary. According to The Atlantic, “if you have a friend that you see on most days, it’s like earning $100,000 more each year” and a report compiled by Gallup suggests that those workers with a ‘best friend’ at work were seven times more engaged than those who didn’t. But don’t fret; you can suggest these 6 easy steps to making friends at work.

4. Are you being overworked?

How often are your candidates left feeling too overwhelmed to function? A 2016 report suggests that 19% of UK workers feel overworked, and one third feel miserable in their jobs. If their work life balance is being hindered by work related stress, the ‘life’ aspect often gets absorbed by working overtime, and looking after themselves goes out of the window. If your candidate is desperate to claw back their free time they may need to address this problem with a manager first. If nothing comes of it, it’s ultimatum time: “either things change or I leave” and you might be able to help them make that change.

5. Do you dread going in every morning?

It can be difficult to get out of bed a lot of the time, no matter how much someone enjoys their job. But when it’s every day, it’s probably not a good sign.

6. Has something changed?

a) In their life?

Has something recently changed in your candidate’s life leaving them questioning their position in their company? Has an adjustment in their lifestyle opened their eyes to new ways of finding happiness, and this job doesn’t quite fit with that? Perhaps they’ve found something new that they’re passionate about and that they’d like to pursue, leaving little room for ‘wasting’ their energy on a job that doesn’t align with their values.

b) In the company culture?

Has the company been bought out and therefore undergone a change in its practices? Has staff morale changed since a new external manager joined? Perhaps their trust has been shaken by a foreign investment that conflicts with their ethics. If this, among other issues, is getting your candidate down, then a change for them could be worth considering.

7. Are you using the right skills?

Does your candidate feel invisible or under-appreciated? Have they been sidelined and given tasks beneath them? The aforementioned 2016 report shows that 1 in 8 people believe that their job happiness would improve with an increase in ‘thank-you‘s. Firstly, you need to tell your candidate that they need to speak up – talk to HR if they don’t feel comfortable telling a line manager. If nothing changes, then they will ask you to help them look for a new job.

8. Is the commute getting you down?

When your candidate’s free time is eaten away drastically by a long and/or stressful commute, feeling motivated and engaged at work can be a real struggle. An ONS report shows that, holding all else constant, commuters are unhappier in both their jobs and life in general, as well as having higher anxiety levels. Your candidate shouldn’t necessarily expect that a new job with an easier commute will fix everything – there could be aspects from their previous job they end up missing. But, if this is a factor on top of other points, then a change could be feasible for them.

9. If you were headhunted today, would you accept?

Obviously, this depends on the type of job, but if your candidate is being head-hunted, it’s generally because they appear to be a good fit for the position in the first place. If it’s just that quitting their current job is a hassle and involves leaving their comfort zone, then a career change could definitely be on the cards. If that is all that’s stopping them then this could be their wake up call.

By Lizzi Hart

Lizzi Hart is a Linguistics graduate from the University of Sussex and a Marketing Executive at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau. She has had work published through the Guardian, the Independent, Metro, The Huffington Post and Elite Daily.