Career transitions are rare — and fast. Most of us move along in our jobs, do what we do, and work through the work getting done. Then, whether we decide to find a new job or get offered something internally within the company, decisions must be quickly made. Nothing happening for months or years and then, all of a sudden, your life will change in the matter of days. Or hours.
If you’re not prepared, you won’t be able to make the quick decision. Or, you’ll make a decision and you’ll discover it wasn’t the right one.
So what do you evaluate so you can make that right decision?
When evaluating your current position to another, it is a question of what is better for your work and career. It might seem obvious, but it is a comparison to your current position and opportunities within it to the new position and the possible opportunities within it. There is always a comparison and you need to ensure that you are looking at both positions and not just at the new opportunity. After all, sometimes it makes sense to say “no” to the opportunity.
So, what should you evaluate?
Lots of people would look at pay and benefits as the first criteria. Unless there is a huge difference between what you are making now with the new position, pay and benefits shouldn’t be your first criteria.
The key to producing employment security (not job security) is producing business results from the work you do. Nothing is more important than producing results. Your comparison, then, is your ability to produce business results for your current manager with the probability of producing results for your future manager.
You should be able to tell someone not only what the job is that you’re looking at, but how you will produce results that are needed by the company or manager. If the hiring manager can’t tell you how you would contribute results in your new role, be scared.
Job skills are the currency of Cubicle Warriors. As one of my former co-workers has on her LinkedIn profile, “Have job skills, will travel.”
And it is true. The more jobs skills you can acquire for your chosen career, the more qualified you are for more positions in your line of work. Your new work should provide you the opportunity to learn new skills that will help you be more marketable within and outside your company. If the new position doesn’t help you learn new job skills, you’ll fall behind others when the time comes to look again for a new position.
Company culture is the “rules of the road” you’ll need to live by to accomplish your goals. If your working style is collaborative and the new position is more aligned with individual contributors with less interactions in your work group, you’ll end up not liking the position. If your work style is to have good social interactions with your coworkers at work and outside of work and this group shuts themselves in offices, you won’t like the new position.
People consistently underestimate the power of a company culture supporting — or detracting — from the ability to get things done by individuals. Make sure the culture fits.
Okay, okay, check out the pay and benefits. Make sure your manager — who can kill your career — is someone you can work with. Check out the commute. How much travel and weekend/night work. Yeah, all that. Important stuff, for sure, but tactics. Make sure for your career transitions your focus us on your career strategy. Not tactics.