Keeping your cool in a hot job market

Article Seldon-Rosser-Keeping-Cool-Hot-Job-Market

If your mobile phone and LinkedIn account isn’t burning with messages offering you great career opportunities, then you are obviously not in BD & Marketing for professional services.

The job market for BD & Marketing candidates is the hottest it has been for years,  particularly for people at manager level (generally 5-8 years’ experience) working in a major city. Competition for ‘talent’ (that’s you by the way) is fierce, resulting in often frenetic recruitment practices with firms throwing everything at getting their vacancy to the top of your in-box. With so many options and so many people wanting to talk to you, how can you keep your cool and calmly assess the right opportunity for you?

Firstly, ask yourself two questions

  1. Why do I want a new job?
  2. Do I have time to look for one?

Let’s explore these.

Do I have time to look for a new job?

Landing a new job takes time. The average interview process is 3 – 4 (one hour) meetings plus several hours of research and a few more to arrange logistics and negotiate contracts. That’s about 8 hours for each opportunity and if you apply for several then you can quickly see how getting a new job becomes a job in itself.  It is therefore essential that you assess each opportunity thoroughly to assess if it’s worth applying. To do this, the next question is key.

Why do I want a new job?

There are many reasons why people change jobs. Extenuating circumstances (such as redundancy) aside, the main reasons we see are:

  • career development
  • change of sector
  • change of location
  • improved salary and benefits
  • seeking a mentor
  • seeking a firm at a different stage of its strategic and growth lifecycle

The pandemic has affected how people prioritise their work/life balance leading to a desire to maintain or change the status quo. It is useful for you to rank the reasons above as determining the key driver which will inform the type of opportunity you can explore. Let’s break it down.

Career development

If you are seeking career development (promotion, more responsibility) then more time needs to be taken in the research and preparatory stages. Great career enhancing roles are as competitive to secure as they always were and just because it’s a ‘candidate tight’ market doesn’t mean that it’s easier to secure your dream job. Our search service (used by many clients to target / headhunt candidates) always results in shortlists that give the clients choices.

A 30-minute call with us can help you determine what career development opportunities are available / on the horizon and can help you take any necessary steps now that will improve your chances in the future (like further study or key projects / experience to put your hand up for in your current role etc).  It’s also worth noting that sometimes your next job might be the steppingstone to your dream career move. For example you might take a job that is a sideways move but gets you into a new sector, location, salary bracket – or broadens the scope of your role filling potential gaps in your experience.  Again, we can help you navigate these options.

Change of sector

Changing sector in the professional services landscape means moving between law, accounting, engineering, design and consulting businesses. Our clients often like bringing in people with a different perspective but who understand how to navigate the complex, matrix-based structures of their organisations. Changing sector can be an equitable move for both parties – you bring well-honed skills and experience in a particular field (bid management, communications, client development, marketing etc) and they offer you a new industry to learn and explore.  Such moves are great for people who enjoy the actual day to day of the job but want a change of scene. It’s much harder to change sector AND change job (so if you are a generalist BD Manager in a law firm you will find it harder to get a client role in a consulting firm) and it’s also a riskier move.

Staying in the same sector is obviously easier and can help develop a long and fulfilling (and financially rewarding) career. Key reasons to consider a move in the same industry are to join bigger teams, get more responsibility or introduce a specialist skill to a generalist background. A good example of this would be a generalist BD Manager in a small law firm moving to a larger firm to take on more client responsibility or to get industry sector experience.

Change of location

Covid-19 put a big ‘Do Not Enter’ sign on many people’s ambition to get international experience but thankfully we are seeing positive signs that overseas moves are coming back. The new UK/Australia trade agreement (that sees the relaxing of visa requirements for under 35s) is one such move that will have a major impact on career opportunities, both in terms of UK talent moving into the Australian market and vice versa – we will provide more commentary on this when it goes live later in 2022.

The easing of travel restrictions in some markets means businesses are again exploring hiring candidates from other locations. At the time of writing, we are seeing both Dubai and Singapore present themselves as the easiest markets for an international move with professional services firms in both locations pro-actively seeking BD and Bids talent from any major global market for their roles.  If an international move is on your wish list, we suggest you speak to us now to determine optimum timings and options.

Improved salary and benefits

With competition for talent increasing so to have salaries.  In some cases, by a much larger percentage than previous year on year increase. For example, we are seeing a lot more BDM roles in Sydney being recruited in the AUD160-170k package range than ever before with BDMs moving to their second Manager role commanding some of the highest percentage increases in the market (eg AUD20-30k increases).

Given rising property prices and the general increase in the cost of living, a higher salary can be a good reason to change. However, if this is your primary motive then understand that if a firm is paying you top dollar, they expect maximum return on investment. It sounds obvious but it’s worth underlining. It is also worthy of note that the highest salary increases come where candidates are bringing the precise sector / practice group (or service line) experience aligned to the role. That is, if you are moving from BDM – Real Estate in a law firm to BDM – Real Estate in another law firm, this will most likely be the best way to increase salary if that’s your key priority.

Learning something new

If seeking a new mentor, or, a firm with a different strategic or growth focus is a key driver for your move, research will be absolutely critical for each opportunity you consider. To help you focus, a conversation with Seldon Rosser can be incredibly useful to identify which firms would offer you the best step forwards in your career.

One BD&M team does not equal another, there are always different things to learn and different people to learn from. Strategic career moves might be:

  • moving from a market leader to a challenger brand
  • moving from a generalist team to one with a more sophisticated client / sector strategy
  • taking your experience from a market leading, larger team to a smaller firm to head up or drive a function
  • finding a mentor with a completely different style and approach than you’ve experienced before

Work-life balance

Work-life balance is also high on the agenda for many candidates who have enjoyed the flexibility of WFH and want to maintain this. They often think they won’t be able to replicate their arrangement elsewhere. However, we have seen an increase in jobs being offered for reduced hours and a much more flexible approach to WFH.  In most cases a new employer can match, or better what you have now, so it’s no longer a reason to stay in a job that doesn’t fulfil your ambition.

Finally, take comfort in the fact that solid skills and a great work ethic are always in demand, so regardless of what the market is doing if you put in the time to plan your career and research your options securing your next role should be a cool breeze.

For smart, strategic career advice, get in touch with Katie Rosser or Angela Maglieri.

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