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Ten Top Tips when Considering Your Next Job

by Anthony Lewis


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So, you've decided to take the leap and explore new career opportunities. The decision to change jobs, especially for seasoned professionals is a significant one that requires careful consideration. It is a potentially life changing decision and ensuring it is the right choice for you is vital. Before embarking on this journey, it's crucial to ask yourself some fundamental questions to ensure you make informed decisions that align with your professional and personal aspirations.

1. Define Your Motivations and Professional Growth Goals

Before diving into the job market, understand what's driving your desire for change. Is it financial, cultural, or a need for professional growth? Are there other hygiene factors at play? Clarifying your motivations will help you prioritise what matters most to you in your next role. Whether it's expanding your skill set, contributing to a meaningful purpose, or seeking a more conducive work-life balance, identifying your priorities is the first step towards finding the perfect role. Establishing your purpose will serve as the cornerstone for all subsequent decisions. Each person's motivators will be different, and no less valid as purpose and motivation vary widely. A recent poll we carried out highlighted that salary (39%) emerged as the top consideration when changing roles, followed closely by an employer's values and culture (29%), in tandem with the offered work pattern (29%). Not a surprise given the current economic climate. 

2. Seek Guidance from Trusted Sources

Initiate conversations with your family, trusted colleagues, and reputable recruiters. Engage with those who know you well, both in your professional and personal spheres as their insights will be invaluable. Identify individuals who can help articulate your true motivations and provide clarity to your thoughts. Crucially, involve your dependents in this decision-making process to ensure their support in your pursuit of change.

Establishing a good relationship with a recruiter who is willing to invest the time in advisory conversations will be of great assistance. Such a recruiter can provide valuable insights into specific markets, offer advice tailored to your goals, and guide you through the job search process. Remember, a credible recruiter won't push a job onto you but will listen, advise, and respect your pace. Leverage these conversations to gain a broader understanding of potential opportunities and challenges.

3. Determine Your Flexibility Parameters

Understand your flexibility when it comes to factors like salary, location, and work patterns. Are you open to relocation? What type of work environment suits you best—fully remote, in-office, or a hybrid model? If seeking a position within a local authority, also reflect on the significance of your connection to the place and community you'll serve, as this can profoundly influence your decision-making process. Clearly defining these parameters will narrow down your search and save time for both you and potential employers.

4. Assess the Cultural Add

After laying down these fundamentals, what comes next for consideration? When evaluating a job opportunity, look beyond the job description. Delve into the employer's cultural brand and values. Alignment of your values is crucial for facilitating career growth, and this congruence should play a substantial role in enhancing your professional satisfaction. Triangulate information from the job description, company website, and strategic sources, and ensure they value cultural add over cultural fit. 

5. Evaluate Organisational Realities

Look beyond the surface and assess the organisation's ability to achieve its strategic goals. Is the management structure conducive to success? How well-resourced is the organisation? Consider how your skills and experience align with their needs and whether you can contribute effectively to their objectives.

Gain a thorough understanding of an organisation's ambitions and purpose to grasp the scale of the challenge ahead. While some thrive on engaging with complex problems, others may seek an optimal level of challenge that is significantly lower. There's no universal right choice, as these preferences are personal. However, aligning your understanding of the organisation with your own aspirations is crucial. This is where speaking to a recruiter will again help you develop a much fuller picture and see beyond the job description.

6. Embrace an Open Mind

Approach job opportunities with an open mind. Employers have a cultural brand and often an employment brand that is not reflective of their current situation. It is essential to verify whether it aligns with your values and that what ‘the market’ thinks is up to date and fair. Explore the organisation's website and other sources to gauge your excitement about the role, and importantly, engage in conversations with recruiters to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the organisation and its reality. Ask the recruiter for further background and context to what has been stated publicly versus the focus of the specific role and the direction of travel for the organisation. 


7. Focus on Your Value Proposition

When evaluating a job description, think about how your skills align with the essential criteria. Don't fixate on the one thing you might lack; instead, emphasise the qualities you bring to the table. Engage in meaningful conversations with recruiters to gain a deeper understanding of the role beyond what’s outlined in the job description and how your skill set and lived experiences can benefit the recruiting organisations Such conversations can play a crucial role in deciphering the nuances of the job description and what the particular employer is really looking for. Job descriptions often use language that may be off-putting, such as the use of masculine terms that may not accurately represent the role or the broader organisation.

8. Understand Employee Benefits and Development Opportunities

Before committing to a new role, inquire about the employer's policies regarding employee benefits and career development. This could range from anything such as family friendly policies and flexible working arrangements, to training and development programmes that will help you to continue your career development. . Therefore it is important to ask if the organisation will support your specific needs and goals. A thorough understanding of these aspects ensures that the move aligns with your immediate and long-term objectives.

9. Immerse Yourself in the Local Environment

For those considering roles in local authorities, take the time to visit the place. Immerse yourself in the local area, interact with service users, and attend council meetings. This firsthand experience will provide valuable insights into the council's mission and its community impact. It will present rich information that not only helps you determine if you’d want the role, but also is a cornerstone of your research should you be interviewed for the position. 

10. Prepare Thoroughly for the Application Process

Finally, as you enter the application process, make sure you understand the specific expectations for that role and the various selection stages. Tailor your approach, whether it's emphasising a strong cover letter or highlighting relevant experiences on your CV. Understand the interview process, including the stakeholders involved and the format at each stage. This is important as allowing the requisite time for planning and preparation will give you the best chance of success. If you have a disability, flag this as it will allow for reasonable adjustment and ensure you are able to perform at your best in the process. Senior roles often involve multiple rounds of interviews, including panel discussions and presentations. Prepare thoroughly for each stage, anticipating questions related to your leadership style, strategic vision, and problem-solving abilities. Use real-world examples from your career 

The journey to find the perfect senior-level role in the public sector requires careful consideration, self-reflection, and open communication. By asking the right questions and seeking guidance from trusted sources, you can navigate the job search maze with confidence and increase your chances of finding a role that not only meets your professional aspirations but also aligns with your values and priorities.


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