The Grass isn’t Always Greener: 4 Questions to Ask Before Switching Jobs

Posted by Brian Rudolph on 3/29/16 3:00 PM
Brian Rudolph
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You get a call from a headhunter.  Or a friend mentions that their employer is hiring.  Maybe you’ve just been keeping your ear to the ground, daydreaming about a new job. And that new job pays more money.

A tempting move?  Sure.  But is it a smart one?  Any time a job change offers more money than you’re making now, it can look like a good idea.  And maybe it is.  But what the job itself, and the work environment, career path opportunities, and employee benefits, to name just a few critical observations?  Before you say yes to that executive recruiter, be sure you’ve asked yourself (and answered) the following six questions.    

1. What are the (real) reasons you want to switch jobs?
Be honest. Does your current job really have nothing more to offer you?  Or are you just having a bad week?  Being mad at your boss, frustrated by a lost promotion, or jealous of a friend’s paycheck are real feelings.  But, on their own, they’re not solid reasons for switching employers.  What are your career goals?  What are your priorities in life?  What are your personal values?  List them out.  Next, list out what your current job has to offer.   Then list out what you know about the new job.  Where are the gaps?  If your current employer’s values are almost perfectly aligned with yours but you’re bored or unfulfilled in your current role, does the new job offer something that’s truly an improvement?  If, after this exercise, the new job isn’t looking so hot, it’s probably because it isn’t.

2. What are the pros and cons over the long haul?
If the new job still looks better than where you are now, step back from the now and consider your larger career, factoring in both past and future.  What have you already done, learned, accomplished?  That old HR recruiting trope actually applies here:  where do you want to be in five years?  Ten years?  Is this next job a leap in the right direction?  Or do you have a history of job-hopping, with more dead-ends and detours than progress toward your goals? While job-hopping itself is no longer the career kiss of death it once was, you still need to be able to explain yourself to a hiring manager.  You need a rationale.  What will yours be?  

3. Is there a way to get what you need where you already are?
Even if your bigger picture, longer-term needs aren’t being met in your current position, what about the organization?  Before jumping ship, can you look for growth opportunities there, confident that you’re in a company you respect, in a culture where you know you fit?  For that matter, have you fully exhausted the outer boundaries of your current job?  Is it possible to take on greater challenges and, with them, request a higher salary or other meaningful benefits?  If you have distinguished yourself as valued contributor, you may be pleasantly surprised by a manager’s willingness to accommodate your needs in order to keep you.

4.  Or is it simply time to leave the place where you grew up?  
No matter how good your answers to the top three questions look, you may know, deep in your heart, that you’ve hit a wall with your current employer.  This is especially true for talented people who have been with their first employer for several years.  No matter how hard you try, you may be surrounded by the old guard, the folks who remember how green you were on day one.  They like you.  But they also interviewed you, fresh out of college.  They on-boarded you and trained you.  From their perspective, they didn’t just show you the ropes in your first job.  They taught you a thing or two about being in the workforce. Sometimes, those impressions can be   impossible to shake.  If you’re stuck in a place where you’ll always be seen as “junior,” you may never be perceived as management material.  It may, indeed, be time to move on.

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Topics: For Job Seekers