Time for a Career Move?
Permanent jobs do not exist. The average person holds 11 jobs before the age of 50. It’s healthy to do a regular check-up of your own company and see if they’re meeting your needs—after all, the best time to look for a job is while you already have one.
A job change depends on more than just the Big Three (compensation, job content, and work environment). Here are some secondary questions to consider if you’ve been wondering about next steps.
10 Questions to Ask Before a Career Move
What has changed since you took the job?
Sometimes you take a job because you don’t have a better option. How did you feel when you took your current job? No choice? Needed the money? Pressure to make a quick exit from a bad situation? Or, you may have taken the job based on good expectations about the company. Did they deliver? Would you take the job again, knowing what you do now?
Things change. Your reasons for taking the job may no longer apply. Start by considering what you wanted at the start of your job, and if your company is still making good on those promises.
Are you on track with your long-term plan?
Do you have clear goals? Flourishing careers rarely happen by accident. Having no career plan is like not saving for retirement. It pays to be flexible with your career aspirations, but establishing well-defined milestones is important to your motivation and development. Choose a variety of goals that will be meaningful to you: learning a marketable skill, reaching a salary bracket, or mastering new industry software.
Exploring a career move is a good method to identify what you want out of your professional life. Interviewing with other companies will expose you to cultures, challenges, and attitudes that give you a fresh perspective on your current job. Meeting with hiring managers forces you to tighten up your resume, polish your professional image, and evaluate your skills and career ambitions. If your goals are bigger than your company, start planning a career move. Keep a written – not mental – list of your goals, and edit them regularly.
How’s your health?
Medical studies consistently find that work stress is a leading cause of health issues. Poor sleep, high blood pressure, lack of focus, muscle tension, physical and emotional fatigue, lack of drive, and general aches and pains are all symptoms of sustained high stress levels. Long commuting hours also contribute heavily to stress-related health problems, especially back pain.
Your workday should allow for friendly conversation, blowing off steam, and jokes. Companies that frown on downtime and rely on negative pressure have a flawed understanding of productivity. Healthy and happy employees do better work and keep their jobs longer. If your body is tired of your job, it’s time to change.
Do you trust your team?
Over and over, employees list poor management as their top reason for leaving a job. Excellent managers are rare, but a healthy relationship with your boss should be based on some level of trust. Additionally, you should be able to trust a majority of your coworkers to produce good work and contribute to company goals. Apart from normal highs and lows, your team’s everyday morale should be positive.
Trust is a key element in any relationship, personal or professional. A loss of trust causes a rift that often gets in the way of doing your job, even if the offense had nothing to do with work. If you don’t trust your coworkers, or if your boss has a history of letting you down, why are you still there?
Would you invest money in your own company?
Your company will make decisions based on their own interests, and so should you. Are you secure? Layoffs, deferred promotions, mergers, and buyouts are red flags for employees. Keep a finger on the pulse of your company’s financial health and long-term prospects. If you would hesitate to invest your money, consider whether it’s a good risk to invest your time and working life in your company’s future.
Are you growing more senior, or just older?
Most interviews include some discussion of career advancement. Unless you just want a part-time job or something that will keep you going, you probably don’t want a dead-end job. Pay rises aren’t guaranteed, but if your skills and experience are developing in meaningful ways, you’re in a better position to command more pay, promotions, and other changes. Advancing doesn’t always mean management. Not everyone is cut out to oversee a team. However, your manager should be able to give you a clear path of how to progress within your company, and give you the resources to move forward.
Are you there for the paycheck?
Your job should have meaningful challenges and milestones that you’re proud of. Is your job satisfaction just about the money? Inertia plays a role, and you’re likely to stay in a position for a while purely due to habit. Take time to refocus on what excites and motivates you in your position, and make changes if you can. A good manager will regularly review your job content and skills to ensure that you’re growing and being challenged. A stagnant employee is a missed opportunity for the company to grow!
Do you feel guilty leaving your team?
Replacing a team member is an opportunity to find someone with a refreshed view and energy who will drive positive change. If Apple found a way to replace Steve Jobs, your company can work it out. If your company can’t replace you, it usually won’t invest in growing you beyond your current responsibilities. Staying in a job that’s a bad fit for you is a disservice to you as well as your team. If you’re ready to leave, be honest that your job isn’t meeting your professional needs—and very likely, you’re not putting in your best work, either.
Does the company culture make sense to you?
Company culture is a nebulous way of describing the social quirks of your company. Everyone has different tastes. Some people prefer faster-paced companies with high pressure and high rewards; to others, a relaxed schedule and happy hour is very important. Feeling that you speak your team’s language is important to your productivity and building secure relationships. Culture changes slowly, if at all. If you don’t feel plugged in to the company’s way of doing things, start looking.
How and why did you get to THIS website?
If you’re reading this article, change is on your mind. Do you regularly look through job opportunity postings? Are you envious when coworkers and friends make a career change? Have you put off applying just because your resume isn’t in great shape? If you feel ready to apply when the right opportunity comes up, you’ve already made the decision to make a career change; you’re just waiting for the chance. Make a list of your goals and then develop an action plan to reach them.
For personalized advice on how to make your next career move, contact us directly at [email protected]al.com.