Who can I confide in about my job search?

Two people having a conversation outside

During your job search, you will no doubt find yourself faced with all kinds of difficult questions, from “Which is the right industry for me?” to “Should I accept this job even though it pays less?” Understandably, you’ll want to confide in trusted people – but be careful. You don’t want to end up with conflicting and confusing advice or have your own inner voice drowned out by too much noise. After all, people can have strong opinions!

Don’t get me wrong, I highly recommend turning to others for help when searching for a new job. What’s key, however, is that you are selective about who you confide in, and ensure these people are impartial, rational, and have your best interests at heart.

Here are three types of people you could confide in about your job search:

1. People with no hidden agenda

Before you ask anyone for their advice on your job search or any offers, think about whether your decision would impact them in any way. It is for this reason that I would advise you don’t speak to your current colleagues. After all, it only takes one slip of the tongue or one overheard conversation for word to get back to your boss.

Your friends and family might be well placed to give you advice, but remember that they may also have biases which get in the way of your best interests, even if they don’t realise it. For instance – a friend may advise that you join their company, because they like the idea of getting to work with you, or they receive an internal incentive for finding new people. Or if you are thinking of moving overseas – your family may discourage you, because (understandably) they don’t want to see you go.

Who do you know that can be truly neutral in their advice? Is there anyone you see as a mentor, even if this is in a very informal capacity? Perhaps you used to confide in a former colleague for advice when you worked together, or even a family friend?

You need to make your decisions based on what’s best for you, so before you seek anyone’s advice, ask yourself whether they might have any hidden agendas. And if you still want their input, then take what they say with a pinch of salt.

2. People who have been in your shoes

Who has been in a similar situation to the one you are in right now and is in a place to give impartial advice? Think about people who have been in the same job, company or industry. This could include former colleagues, friends and family, and their networks.

You can also find plenty of careers advice by looking at online blogs and forums, using the keywords relating to your situation. And if you can post anonymously, then confide in these networks and ask them your questions about the career decisions you are facing. You will be surprised at how helpful these online communities can be. LinkedIn also has a careers advice functionality where you type in the kind of specialism and sector you are interested in, and they connect you to professionals who can help you.

I would also suggest looking through your LinkedIn connections and reaching out via InMail – just don’t forget online networking etiquette. I’ve spoken about this in a previous blog, advising that you shouldn’t reach out to a second degree connection on LinkedIn independently. Rather, email your first degree contact to ask for an introduction and always offer something of value – like an interesting article that you thought they might enjoy, or an endorsement or recommendation for their profile.

3. A recruiter

Last but by no means least, speak to a recruiter. They have first-hand experience placing people in the kinds of roles you want, they know the realities of working in them, and they have to keep your search confidential.

Register with an agency, and meet with an expert recruiter to discuss what kind of roles you are searching for. Remember to provide them with key information on the types of organisations you like the sound of working for, the kind of culture you thrive in, and where you want your next role to take you in your career. My colleague Chris Dottie has written a great blog on how to get the most from your first meeting with your recruiter, and how to build an ongoing relationship here.

Confiding in people about your job search is always a good idea. Just make sure you’re talking to the right people, people with experience, credibility and who are impartial. Also remember that no-one knows you better than yourself, and no-one else has to live through your decisions. By all means, seek out good advice and take it on board, but don’t forget to listen to that little voice inside your head telling you what’s right for your career, and no doubt you will make wise and rewarding decisions that pay off long term.

About this author

Jane McNeill, joined Hays in 1987 as a trainee recruitment consultant in London and is now Managing Director of Hays NSW and WA.

After two years with Hays Jane began managing her own office and quickly took on larger and more diversified teams of people and responsibility for a region in the UK.

In 2001 Jane arrived in Perth , Western Australia and shortly after took over as State Director for WA. After six years of significant business growth she was appointed to the Hays Australia & New Zealand management board in 2007.

In 2012 Jane moved to Sydney and now oversees Hays’ operations in New South Wales with board responsibility for Western Australia.

Jane has an MA in Psychology from Edinburgh University.

Follow Jane on LinkedIn

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