Considering a Job Change?

The factors that I hear mentioned most by clients who are contemplating a job change are:

  1. Their boss – micromanaging, too demanding, volatile
  2. Inadequate opportunity to advance – the organization is stagnant; people at more senior levels are deeply entrenched, training is non-existent
  3. Compensation – Raises are infrequent or hard to get; others doing the same kind of work are being paid much more
  4. Organizational culture – too political, too bureaucratic. Perhaps elements of mysogyny or racism
  5. Nature of their work – Their role has been redefined; they are reporting to too many people; work/life balance has deteriorated
  6. Impending job loss – They’ve received negative performance appraisals; the organization is downsizing or being acquired
  7. Poor fit with the team – Sometimes you’re just on a different page

Grass Is Not Always Greener

Changing jobs may seem an obvious solution to these issues, but it carries significant risk, particularly now with the massive uncertainty that has accompanied the pandemic. Here are a few factors to which you need to pay particular attention:

How solid is the organization’s financial situation?

This is an unknowable factor for many organizations, and even if the finances are solid right now, how might they be affected by a COVID-related lockdown of the economy? Or the sudden loss of a major client and its associated revenue?

Can you reliably predict the reporting structure in which you will be situated?

I’ve heard innumerable stories of people hired to work for one particular boss or in one particular group only to discover upon or shortly after starting the new job that there’s been a reorganization, or that the boss has been fired or quit. There’s simply no way to confidently know this in advance, or protect against it.

What kind of relationship will you have with your superiors and team?

Even if you “click” with your prospective boss and team members during the interview process, a few encounters (most likely virtual) aren’t sufficient to accurately judge what kind of chemistry you’ll wind up having with your work associates.

How invested will the organization be in your success?

Is there a track record of internal promotions? What kind of training/mentoring is offered?

Due diligence is an absolute necessity. As excited as you may be about a job offer, you’re better off being skeptical than merely accepting the apparent outline of your new situation as fact. Check out any press you can find. Read reviews (e.g. Glass Door, though take them with a grain of salt – like Yelp, negatives are posted far more often than positives). Most importantly, talk with people who have knowledge of the organization – past employees, or perhaps clients or vendors.

Beware of a common mistake: placing too much emphasis in embracing a new opportunity on how different (i.e. better) it is from the one that you hate in your current situation. Just like in a bad dating relationship or marriage, there’s a tendency to overweight the characteristics of the new partner that are diametrically opposed to the one you’re looking to leave.

Perhaps I’m overly emphasizing the risks of a job change. More often than not a carefully vetted job change works out well. I’m simply urging you to proceed with caution!