A question I am often asked by so many leaders at different points in their careers is, “When is the best time to leave my current position?”
Of course if I had the perfect response I would share it with enthusiasm but the truth is, it depends. Everyone’s situation is different and each of us possesses a certain level of risk-taking and tolerance for a challenging work environment.
A week ago I was working with a young leader who was toying with making a move. He wasn’t sure what to do although his current situation was growing more and more unbearable. He was feeling unappreciated and not given much encouragement from his supervisor for a job he was in for about a year. We spent time talking about the pros and cons of leaving or taking the risk of applying for a new role. Either way the decision wouldn’t be an easy one.
Here are 7 things to think about when a job change is calling to you:
1. Ask yourself what is happening in my current role?
Taking an honest look at what has gone wrong in our present position isn’t so easy, yet major league necessary. What exactly isn’t working and why? Perhaps your boss is part of the derailment. Maybe the job responsibilities aren’t what you had imagined. And there may be some truth to the fact that you might be contributing to the problems.
2. Think if there are ways to make the job better
When we are contemplating a job move, we may want to first see if there is anything we can do to make things better.
- Are there skills I need to learn to be stronger?
- Can I talk to my supervisor about my challenges?
- How can I call on my co-workers to help?
- What changes can I make to have a higher performance level?
- What’s preventing me from excelling?
3. Take a look from your boss’s vantage point
Although not something we may want to consider, it can be a helpful exercise to try to understand why our boss feels the way she does. Identify why your boss doesn’t see all your hard work. Are we putting forth our best effort? Also, our bosses are sometimes under severe pressure to perform and some of that anxiety may spill over onto us.
4. Decide on your level of risk-taking
While some leaders look forward to change and movement, others have a more difficult time stepping outside their comfort zone. Are you comfortable taking the risk to try a new position knowing it may not work out? There are unknowns in a new job from the responsibilities to a different type of supervisor to new team members. Just consider your individual risk-taking levels.
5. Call in your support network
If you are contemplating a job or career change it can be a great idea to reach out to mentors, coaches, friends or family members to bounce off ideas.
- Come prepared to these talks with your current job concerns
- Stay open to what your trusted advisors have to say
- Be truthful about your situation
- Share your reasons for leaving clearly
- Set follow-up meetings to express concerns or questions
6. Make sure the jump to a new position aligns with your professional goals
Having a clear set of goals and core values will always keep you on the right path and warn you when the crossroad isn’t for you. If you need a more nurturing supervisor, make sure the next position offers that. Analyze whether a particular job will enrich your current experiences and knowledge. It might make sense to switch or it might not be worthwhile.
7. Don’t make a quick move – think it through
It always pays to be methodical if we can when considering a job change. If no one is forcing us to make the move, then allow yourself the time to reflect, research and ask the necessary questions. Get enough information without overthinking what’s really best.
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