Letter for those in Job Transition
by Keith Brown, President & Owner, Siena Group.
You’ve gone through the entire job search process — résumés, job postings, emails, phone calls, interviews, second interviews, more interviews, more emails & phone calls, one more interview — but you did it! You’ve received a job offer!! It’s incredibly exciting, …
… but even though this is the moment you’ve been working for and waiting for, an unexpected flood of reservations springs up out of nowhere, leaving you thinking, “Wait … what?“
So, how do you make this decision?!?
As a talent recruiting partner, I have the unique perspective of bearing witness to both sides of the desk. My primary objective is to get a win-win for both the client and the candidate. Believe me, the wrong fit is not a good scenario for anyone and tends to be a lose-lose-lose – for the client, the candidate, and for me!
Choice + Chance = Change
It’s perfectly normal to have reservations. Change is hard. It doesn’t matter in what arena it comes – personal or professional. Making a job change is a big deal!
As you reflect and think through your particular situation, there are many things that may add layers of complexity: time in your role, loyalty, relationships, location, commute, and so many more. Your decision to leave your job strikes at the core of what and who you are as a person AND as a professional.
There are several significant considerations that are at play here.
Consideration #1 — What Does Leaving Say About You?
Make no mistake – our work lives are part of us. They define who we are to an extent. When making a career decision, there is a commitment made to that organization. “Yes, I want that promotion, and I know that it means I will need to do x, y, and z.” Or, “Yes, I will accept your offer and move to your company knowing that I’m leaving another organization behind.“ That perceived contract carries some stipulations and accepted norms. It is very common to feel like you are breaking your word and that unspoken contract that you agreed to when you signed on and came aboard. You are not alone in that feeling!
The fact of the matter is that your position (not you!) is ultimately replaceable. Most positions are. That is just the reality of it. If the company needed to downsize, it most certainly would not hesitate to terminate people to ensure the continued success of the company. (If you haven’t experienced this yet, you will at some point in your career. It isn’t [usually] a bad thing, and it unfortunately happens frequently.)
Consideration #2 — How Do I Let Them Down?
I learned this tough lesson at the outset of my career – when I had to choose between two amazing companies: Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Kimberly Clark (KC), who are fierce competitors in the marketplace. I was very fortunate to have earned a Process Engineer internship with P&G in my last summer of college. When school started back that August, P&G offered me a full-time position upon graduation in the spring. I made the decision and accepted this unexpected job offer.
When early spring hit, lots of college recruiting occurs. Following suit with my fellow classmates, I interviewed with a number of great companies. One of them was Kimberly Clark… and I was fortunate to receive an offer! I was faced with a life-changing decision: do I withdraw my job acceptance with P&G and accept this new offer with KC, or do I keep my commitment to P&G and turn down the KC offer?
As I did my research, everything pointed to KC – the role, the location, the company, and even the starting salary. It just felt right… except I had already committed to P&G! I was taught that your word was your integrity, and going back on it was just something you didn’t do. I did a lot of thinking and praying, and spoke to friends, family, and a few independent trusted people to gain their insight into what I should do. It was HARD. If I chose the KC job, I would have to call the P&G Plant Manager personally and share my change in decision. But, for me, KC was the right choice – no matter how difficult the conversation would be. Needless to say, the Plant Manager was not happy. Yet, even with all that struggle, I knew that it was the right decision for me! I needed to make sure my own interests were considered.
As you think about your current company and manager, yes, they will absolutely be disappointed and they may even be angry – just like the P&G Plant Manager. They hired you for a reason. Why would you leave now? [This is the point where a counteroffer may become part of the tough decision-making process as well.]
For a quick four-step approach on “how to spectacularly quit your job”, refer to this CNBC article on the bestseller “Designing Your Work Life” by Stanford professors Dave Evans and Bill Burnett.
Consideration #3 — What is Your WHY?
As you consider this decision, think about what made you curious about this new position in the first place: the role, the scope, the opportunity to make a big impact, the chance to have a seat at the table and be able to influence the direction of the company, the location or commute, or even the new leader you met and with whom you connected well. This is your WHY.
Here are some crucial questions to help you articulate your WHY.
- Is this new role the right fit right now?
- Can you see yourself at the new company for the long term?
- Does the scope align well with your skills & talents?
- Is there enough opportunity for you to grow and continue to develop?
- Are you going to be challenged?
- Does the culture align… on both sides of the coin?
- What are the upsides in the future, both near and long term?
- What are the downsides as well? Things won’t be all peaches & cream at the new organization, and it’s important to take these into consideration as well.
- Does the location/commute work? Relocation is tough but sometimes that kind of big change is very positive.
- How does this new role fit into your work/life balance?
- Does your total compensation improve? Yes, comp is absolutely part of the decision-making process, but it should be just one component, not the main reason for change.
- In 6 months, will you be reflecting back on a ‘no thank you’ decision… and regret not saying yes?
- Is this new role going to be better for you, both now and in the future?
If you can’t answer these questions mostly with very positive answers, then stay where you are. They all do not need to be big green check marks… perfection just doesn’t exist (just ask Dilbert). Don’t make a change just to make a change, and don’t make a change to chase a few dollars. It just isn’t worth the hassle. Choose to make a move for the right reasons that align with your needs and desires for your career.
It Really ALL Boils Down to YOU!
Yes, your word means something.
Yes, it will be difficult to move.
Yes, some people may not understand.
Yes, even with the best intentions, some bridges may be burned.
Yes, be thankful and be professional (it is a small world after all).
BUT … it should always come back to YOU!
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