There is something about the fall season that seems to bring about the desire for change. Whether it is the shift to colder temperatures, the changing of the leaves or the fact that everyone is back in the swing of things with kids and their school routine, the theme of change seems to permeate into everything we do this season.
To that extent, I have also been seeing this (need for change) a lot lately with friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Specifically, based on phone calls, emails and coffee meetings I have been having, a lot of people in my inner circle seem to be contemplating job changes. Based on the sheer number of these discussions, I thought it might be of some value to summarize the advice that I have been giving most of these folks when they are making this job change decision.
Typically these discussions start out with the person I am meeting with telling me all about this great opportunity that they have either applied for, are contemplating applying for, been approached about, are interviewing for or have been offered. I then try and take the person through an accounting exercise whereby I get them to list the pluses and minuses about the job in terms of what they see, think and feel at present. While this may seem obvious and trivial, I have found that you really need to evaluate what you are truly getting with a potential new job and sometimes you miss the less obvious things – you know, the ones that will ultimately determine if you have made the right move or not (and will happy in the new role).
Some of the factors that I try and draw people’s attention to in so far as what they need to consider, are things like:
- Does the new job represent a lateral move or upward move?
- If lateral, are you ok with that and/or is that what you want?
- If lateral, how do you explain making the change? i.e. what are your change drivers?
- If lateral, what are you gaining anything in terms of industry experience, organizational size, compensation, etc.?
- If upward, what are you gaining in terms of role size, scope, responsibility, accountability or autonomy? I.e. how will this look good on your resume and how does it enhance your personal brand?
- Are you being swayed by non-value added factors? I.e. better title, better office, better “perks.”
- Are these truly important to you and they are worth making a wholesale change for?
- What level (of person) does the job report into?
- Again, move beyond title and look at overall organizational structure and impact.
- What is the mix of strategic vs. operational (i.e. tasks) responsibility in the role?
- To what degree are you going to be able to make an impact?
- Does this represent a positive step in your mid to long term career path/objective?
- Does it represent an opportunity to increase your scope as a manager? Or how does it increase your ability to specialize as an individual contributor?
- Does the role have a local or regional flavor to it?
- If this ends up not being what you thought it was, or wanted it to be, how will you explain this to a recruiter and/or future potential employer. I.e. what is your “why” explanation?
What I try and get people to look at is whether or not they are being seduced by a nice title, a bit more pay, or a perceived “sexier” industry. This analyses becomes all the more important if someone is contemplating a change when they are unhappy in their current role, with their current company or current boss or are in fear of being laid off. We tend not to make the most objective decisions during those times of high stress.
Ultimately, the question and decision comes to deciding whether or not you are going to “gain” by making a move. (keep in mind, the definition of gain varies from person to person.) Along with the points mentioned above, there is also the consideration of whether or not you will learn a new skillset or have a chance to apply some skills that you don’t get to use in your current role. This is what is commonly referred to as the growth factor. What I advise people to not do is “lift and shift” unless it is unavoidable (i.e. lay off, avoid harassment, etc.) That is, don’t take exactly what you are doing now and lift and shift that into a new company. While the faces and places might change for you, it will only be a short term gain for potential long term pain – that is, you will be back to where you were with your old company in terms of job dissatisfaction. Again, evaluate (based on the points above) if it truly represents an opportunity for you or is it “a way out.” In the long run, a way out won’t provide the job satisfaction that you owe to yourself. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.
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