The best time to interview is when you’re happy with your job
Waiting until you’re unhappy (or let go) is too late
Lately, I’ve been responding to recruiters with a lot more enthusiasm whenever I see a potential role I might be interested in or could be a good fit for.
Most people only start this process when they’re either unhappy with their career, or if they’ve been let go. You don’t want to do this because it puts you in a vulnerable position as the job seeker. The best time to apply for jobs and explore potential opportunities is when you’re not looking for one.
It takes the pressure off you
The last couple of times I’ve searched for a job was when I was desperately looking for one.
The first time was when I had just switched from medicine to product design. The second time was when the startup I was working for was going under. In both situations, the pressure and expectation to find a job were almost deafening. Depending on your timeline and situation, it might even make you feel compelled to accept a job or compensation that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Looking for a job when the ball is in your court puts you in a better position (and mindset) to go after what you deserve and not settle for anything less. It might even make the experience a lot more enjoyable for you.
It keeps you up-to-date with the job market
Interviewing and talking to recruiters helps you get a better sense of the job market and how you measure up. This provides you with the context and data points you need to evaluate and validate whether you’re getting paid enough for your skills, experience, and expertise. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that you’re not asking for too much at your current job and is more than qualified for that promotion you’ve been asking for. Alternatively, you might be humbled to identify key areas that you can hone in and perfect.
As Jerry Lee puts it:
“No one will care for your career more than you will.”
That being said, make sure to be considerate of your commitments and the hiring manager’s time by communicating where you are in the process. I’ve found that the more honest and transparent I am with recruiters, the more they’re able to accommodate and share opportunities that are better aligned with my interests and career development.
It develops your interview and presentation skills
If you’re a designer like me, sometimes the only chance we get to practice our soft skills is during design reviews. Even then, sometimes the feedback we receive is very specific, niche, and usually from the same group of people. Interviewing gives you more opportunities to practice communicating your story, work, and process to a wider audience. In doing so, you might gain valuable feedback and insights that you might not have gotten otherwise.
It helps keep your portfolio and resume fresh
When you know a recruiter or the hiring manager is looking at your work, it forces you to pay extra close attention to your post-production and delivery. This is also the perfect opportunity for you to reflect on your impact, follow up on shipped projects, and document your achievements (along with any business-moving metrics.)
Most importantly, it revives your confidence and energy
When you see the same people and attend the same meetings daily, it’s easy to slip into a productivity and creativity slump. This might eventually lead to job dissatisfaction and burn outs. Interviewing and applying for roles you’re interested in gives your current routine a break and puts you back in the mindset where you’re feeling both desired and challenged. I’ve noticed that when this happens, I would feel a renewed sense of curiosity and energy in myself and my work.
So respond to that recruiting email or apply for that job you’re interested in, and remember:
It’s okay to feel thankful for what you have and ask for more.
It’s okay to love your job and explore what’s out there.
You might (or might not) be surprised to find that you’re exactly where you need to be. And if you’re not, at least you’re already halfway there.
As Justice Stewarts puts it,
“You’ll know it when you see it.”