Why Now's the Right Time to Jumpstart Your Career

By Damian Davila on 26 September 2017 0 comments

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' has shown an interesting trend in the years since the Great Recession: More Americans are quitting their jobs than ever.

The Bureau's Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLTS) reports show some surprising numbers. In July 2014, 2.5 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs, leaving the national quit rate at 1.8 percent. Compared to 2017, those numbers have increased dramatically: 3.2 million people quit their jobs this past July, at a rate of 2.2 percent.

You may be wondering why people are leaving their jobs in such droves. It's good news. The trend indicates that workers are finding new, better jobs, and the JOLTS data shows that more job openings and opportunities are available than in years past. How can you take advantage of this employment trend? By bettering your career path. Here's your game plan.

1. Request better workplace benefits

According to Glassdoor, three out of five people report benefits and perks as being among the top deciding factors in accepting a new job. And 88 percent of respondents to a 2017 Fractl survey reported that they would even give "some" or "heavy" consideration to a lower-paying job with better health, dental, and vision insurance compared to a higher-paying job with less impressive health benefits.

It doesn't end at health insurance, however. Job-seekers are increasingly interested in other benefits such as flexible working hours, student loan repayment, more vacation time, additional fund options in retirement plans, and free day care. As employers are competing more fiercely to attract and retain qualified workers from a shrinking pool of talent, you have a stronger case for asking for additional benefits. Generally, it's cheaper for employers to provide a benefit to an existing employee rather than hiring someone new, so the economics are on your side.

2. Seek education and development options

A college degree can boost your lifetime income by a matter of millions. The problem is that the average graduate from the class of 2016 owed $37,172 in student loans, up 6 percent from the year before. And that number keeps growing. This is why today, we're seeing more and more employers offering student loan repayment as a benefit. (See also: These 17 Companies Will Help You Repay Your Student Loan)

Even better, many employers are going one step beyond student debt reduction and are looking to prevent it in the first place:

  • AT&T pays employees up to $3,500 per year for approved courses.
  • Fidelity Investments reimburses employees 90 percent of qualifying education costs (up to $10,000 per year).
  • Nvidia reimburses employees up to $5,250 each year for qualified job-related educational expenses.
  • Smuckers reimburses up to 100 percent of tuition costs for approved college courses.

Completing a degree on your company's dollar empowers you to improve your career path within your current employer — and future ones.

3. Work on soft skills

The idea of the ultimate expert working in a dark corner is long gone. Even in the fields of engineering or programming, employers value people who get on well with others and can work as part of a team. Knowing how to get along and communicate with your peers is key for your career growth, wherever that path may take you.

Cat got your tongue? Work on your communication, public speaking, and leadership skills with Toastmasters International for about $110 for the first year. And then practice those skills every day on the job. When the next big career opportunity comes knocking, you'll have a leg up on the competition. (See also: 10 Ways to Improve Yourself for $100 or Less)

4. Become a thought leader

Information is power, but so is the ability to deliver that information in a meaningful way. Companies are always looking for subject matter experts who can make presentations, serve on discussion panels, or contribute to industry journals or publications. Depending on your company policies, you may be able to receive additional income for these activities or just the reimbursement of eligible expenses involved with those activities.

The true value of becoming the face of your organization is that you're increasing both your value to the company and building your own personal brand. Both of which may come quite handy for the next time that you ask for a raise, receive an offer from another employer, or decide to set up your own shop.

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