Throughout the U.S., the majority of workers aren't engaged at work, according to Gallup polls. This lack of engagement is a big reason why Gallup found that more than half of all workers are either actively looking for a new job, or at least keeping their eyes open for other opportunities.
If you're one of the millions of working Americans dissatisfied with your current workplace, you don't have to accept a bad job as your fate. While you probably don't want to quit right away without a new position lined up, there are some steps you can take to maximize the chances that you'll soon be able to move on. Here are four things you should do now if you'd like to transition to a new career soon but aren't quite ready to jump ship from your current workplace.
1. Assess what you don't like about your current gig
Before you even start thinking about looking for a new job, you need to know what you dislike about your current position. Analyzing the problems at your workplace can help you focus on new opportunities that would actually make you happier. If you don't like the work, for example, that's a different issue than if you hate working for a big company and would prefer a smaller outfit. By taking some time for introspection, you can significantly reduce the chances that any career moves you make will just land you at a different job you dislike.
2. Get serious about networking
Networking has become one of the most common ways for people to find jobs -- and the time to build your network is while you're still at work, before you're actively looking for a new position. The more people you can get to know now, the better off you'll be when you eventually start your job search in earnest. And, if you've worked on building up your network early, before you start pursuing other opportunities, you'll have established relationships with more people in your industry, meaning you won't have to just start cold-calling potential contacts when looking for work.
As you explore networking opportunities, be certain to make a LinkedIn profile, join online groups, and otherwise leverage social media. The vast majority of employers -- 84% -- now use social networks to help recruit candidates, and 82% of employers do so primarily to look for passive candidates who aren't yet actively seeking jobs. By making the right connections, you could end up being approached by a recruiter before you ever have to start a job search.
3. Freshen up your resume
If you haven't worked on your resume in a while, now's the time to update it. Think carefully about current professional accomplishments you want to highlight and start building a portfolio of successes you can share with potential employers. Be sure your resume is short -- no more than one to two pages -- and contains only your most relevant work experience. Employers receive a lot of resumes and look at them only briefly, so yours needs to stand out from the crowd if you want to get noticed.
4. Start saving some cash for a job transition
Changing jobs almost always leads to a gap in getting a paycheck, even if you find a new position relatively quickly. Your new employer's payroll period may not line up perfectly with your old employer's, or you may not be able to time things perfectly when it comes to giving notice and starting your new job when your old position ends. So, it can be helpful to have some cash during this transition time.
If you start looking for work while you still have your current job, there's also the chance your current employer will find out and let you go before you've found your next opportunity. You definitely want to have a financial cushion if this happens to you. Alternatively, you may decide you need to quit before looking for a new job because you won't have time to devote to interviews if you're still working. In this situation, you'd definitely need some cash to spare.
The more you have saved up to cover your living expenses, the more limited the risk of looking for new work -- and the more time you can take to find the perfect new job, rather than being rushed into taking another position you don't love just because your money is running out.
Be strategic about considering new opportunities
Quitting your job without a safety net is high risk, as is looking for new work while still employed. However, by taking these four steps, you'll be able to maximize the chances of finding a new opportunity quickly and ensure you have a financial cushion to see you through if there's a gap between paychecks.
Don't just live with your bad job -- start being proactive today by thinking about what you want in your next position, building a strong professional network, and getting your resume ready. Hopefully, you'll be able to find exciting new opportunities and will have a new job before you know it.