U.S. Markets close in 2 hrs 30 mins

The right way to quit your job for a better one

Rick Newman
Senior Columnist
Daily Ticker

If you’re thinking about making a career change, you’ve got a lot of company.

One offbeat indicator of an improving economy is a rising “quit rate,” which measures the percentage of people who voluntarily leave their jobs every month. The quit rate, not surprisingly, plunged during the recession, as employees clung tight to any work that provided a paycheck. But it’s been rising again, and is about halfway back to where it was before the recession. And most people looking for a new job seem to be searching outside their current occupation.

“Job seekers are really looking to change careers,” Tara Sinclair, economist for the job-search site Indeed.com, tells me in the video above. More than 80% of job seekers using Indeed look for work in a different field than the one they’re in. “They see the job market changing and want to keep up with that, so they’re looking where they can have a lot of growth in their careers.”

It’s well-known that the job market is strong for so-called STEM workers — those with a background in science, technology, engineering or math. Yet as the economy slowly recovers, there are growing numbers of jobs in other fields that employers have a hard time filling.

The "experience mismatch index"

Indeed computes an “experience mismatch index” to identify fields in which employers seem to have more jobs posted than they’re able to fill. Some of those, not surprisingly, are STEM-type fields such as computers, healthcare, architecture and engineering. But there are other mismatch professions that require less training, including equipment installation and repair, restaurant work, building maintenance, management, sales, and business and finance operations.

That doesn’t mean jobs are necessarily easy to find in those fields, because location matters more than ever these days. Overall, the economy is growing but the recovery is spotty. So if you don’t live in one of the more vibrant pockets of the nation, it may still feel like a recession, with few jobs and limited opportunity to get ahead.

Still, a growing number of open jobs makes it a good time to switch fields for some people. Raises are still scarce in many companies, which means getting a new job may be the best way to boost your paycheck — one of the top reasons people quit one job for another.

Of nearly two dozen fields analyzed by Indeed, management pays the best, followed by the legal field and computers. Office work and administrative support is the field getting the most attention, likely because people looking to switch assume that’s where the jobs are.

A growing skills mismatch is one reason employers have trouble filling jobs — they simply can’t find workers able to do what they need. But some applicants may also be doing a poor job of finding jobs they might qualify for. One mistake is burying skills deep in your resume instead of highlighting them at the top, another is relying on a one-size-fits-all resume instead of customizing it for the type of employer you’re trying to snag. “Call attention to yourself,” Sinclair advises. “If people really tailored their resumes and aimed them at the employer they’re hoping to get, it would be a much better strategy.”

This might go without saying, but it’s probably a good idea to land your next job before quitting your current one, since employers may prefer a continous work history over one with gaps. Yep, it can be a lot of work looking for one job while keeping another, and difficult if you can’t free yourself for interviews or other job search requirements during the workday. But nobody said quitting was easy — yet.

Rick Newman’s latest book is Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.