Career Change: How Do You Know When to Change Jobs?

Mrs Daily Minder has a dilemma. She is currently being offered two jobs and doesn’t know which one to take. We have been talking about it for days and still haven’t come to a solution so I thought I would write about it and see if we can come up with a clear process for figuring out when to change jobs.

I would love your suggestions, help and words of wisdom too.

How do you know when to change jobs?

Here is the scenario: A competitor firm is offering her a new job with some nice little bonuses. Her current job found out about this and is offering her more hours and a better deal to encourage her to stay. She has no idea which one to take. Here are some issues we have looked at:

1. Are you happy at your current workplace?
If you are not happy at your workplace and you have tried making friends, meditating at work, becoming more mindful, de-stressing and so on and still haven’t had any luck then perhaps it is time to change jobs. Regardless of how much money you are being paid, if you are not happy your life will be miserable. This is the most important question to ask yourself when deciding if you should change jobs.

2. What are your short and long term goals?
It is important to sit down and establish what your short and long term goals are. If you do not have any goals it will be too easy to float around with no real direction. However, once you write down some concrete goals you will have more of a “guide” as to which option will be better for you.

For example, if you long term goal is to earn enough money to buy a house then you should go with the job offering more money. On the other hand, if your long term goal is in a completely different area then you should take the job that offers the best deal in the short term.

Make sure your goals are in your mind when you make a job changing decision.

3. What is your gut telling you?


Creative Commons License photo credit: Paladin27

A dear friend of mine told me that the best piece of advice he had was to always trust your gut. I think this is very good advice. Sometimes we might be seduced by a financial incentive or we might be tempted by the allure of a new and exciting job. However, take some time to listen to what your gut is telling you. 90% of the time you know what is best for you – despite what the money is whispering in your ear.

4. Have you done a PRO and CON list?
Something my father always used to do before a big business decision was write down a PRO and CON list or a cost-benefit analysis. Sometimes this would be two manila folders, sometimes it would be a napkin on the kitchen bench. I quite like this approach as it is very systematic and allows you to look at the options visually. We are very visual creatures and writing things down on paper in two neat columns labeled GOOD and BAD is a great way to gain some perspective.

The problem with this (according to my father) is that it is very difficult to assign some “weight” to each PRO or CON. For example, job no.1 might offer you a great car park while job no.2 might offer you a great desk and a Christmas bonus. How do you establish which option is better? Do you do it financially by working out how much a year the car park saves you in parking costs and whether that is equal to the Christmas bonus the other guys are offering? Or, do you just go with the quantity of PROs in the column?

This is tricky.

5. Have you talked to other people?
Sometimes talking to people who already work at the place you might be going is a good idea. I just got a phone call from the Missus and she told me that she went to talk to someone who used to work at the place. They went out for a coffee and talked about all the good and bad elements of the firm. This seems to have given her some new perspective.

However, the downside to talking to other people is that you often get a lot of emotional opinion instead of facts. People’s views are swayed by their experiences and if the person had a bad experience with a manager or another staff member they might paint the firm in a bad light. Be careful of who you talk to and how much import you attach to their opinion.

6. Have you looked at the “external” factors?
Something that you need to look at are the factors that aren’t directly related to the job but will be affected if you change workplaces. For example, if you change from a 9 to 5 job to one that includes night shifts will you still be able to take the kids to work the next morning? These kinds of factors are affected when you change jobs and as such you should make sure you address them before you make the move.

Other tips and advice for changing jobs?

Now I would like to open up the comments to you all. Please share with us your experiences and stories about changing jobs. What made you leave? What did you regret? What advice do you have? Let’s see if we can compile a list of tips in the comments that might really help someone who encounters this post.

top image:Creative Commons License photo credit: mringlein

3 thoughts on “Career Change: How Do You Know When to Change Jobs?

  1. This is a great post. It’s also important to consider the fact that even when you are working for corporation, you are working for yourself. With shortened job tenures, restructuring, downsizing, and layoffs in the thousands, loyalty on the part of employers is a thing of the past. Savvy employees understand that it is a two way street – they give as much as they get at work. The savvy employee also understands that the more they can create their own brand in the workforce, the more in demand they will be. Before changing jobs it’s important to understand what you’ve gained from the job you’re in and what you will gain in personal brand value in the new job.

  2. Great post with great timing! I am currently torn trying to decide if I should job hunt or continue where I’m at…

    Some things that will help:

    – Do what’s best for you because you are the only person that is looking out for you.
    – Everyone works for a personal reason. Make sure that your job meets your personal reasons for why you are going to work (i.e. the goals example). Personally, I go to work because I want a challenge, and if I’m not being challenged it’s time to leave.
    – Interview your colleagues. Employers should be open to allowing you to talk with the folks you will be working with…make sure that you like them.
    – If there is a fringe benefit that is missing ask for it rather than asking for more money. You will be happier with the fringe over the long-run.

    Hope this helps.

    -MC

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