Is That New Job The Best Next Career Move? A 10-Point Checklist To Help You Decide
A reader recently wrote in with this question: How do I evaluate an attractive new role for being the right step in building a fulfilling long-term career?
There are lots of ways to evaluate a job opportunity. In addition to looking at a job on its standalone merits, you need to evaluate it in the context of your career and goals. A job might be terrific but not for you. Or a job might appear to be lateral or even a step back but it could be just what you need for your development. There is no one set of criteria to measure the merits of a job. However, here are 10 questions to explore as you evaluate a new job opportunity:
Does the job meet your immediate needs?
Right out of school, your immediate goal might be the breadth of experience you get, so you prioritize a role or workplace that has variety. A few years into your career, you might be married with a family on the way, so you prioritize flexibility. Mid-career and gunning for an executive role, your immediate next step might be to get international experience. At each stage of your career, there will be different near-term goals that you have for that next job. At a minimum, the opportunities you pursue should meet these immediate needs.
Will the role contribute towards your long-term career goal?
At the same time, you want roles that will contribute to your long-term goals. If your ultimate goal is Chief Marketing Officer and you want your next role to have an international scope, then you prioritize international but still look at how much marketing exposure and skills development the role will provide overall.
Will the role complement work you enjoy?
If you are not sure what your ultimate career goal is, you should at least look to build a body of work that points to a functional or industry expertise. Yes, sometimes a next job can be a complete departure from what you have done before and in this way expose you to brand new skills, but ideally each job builds on and complements work you have already done and enjoy doing.
Will the work fill in critical skills or experience gaps?
Even as the next job builds on your past, it also gives you something new in terms of skills or experience. You might be introduced to new processes or technology. You might serve different types of clients. You might learn a new industry. If you are mid-career and driving towards a specific long-term goal, like CMO, then each next job should fill in a gap in your background that is currently missing.
Do the responsibilities scare you a little?
You want the next job to be a stretch, but notice how I said “a little." If you’re too scared, this might be an indication that the job is too big a leap or perhaps the employer’s goals are unrealistic. Notice too how I focused on responsibilities being scary and not the workplace itself. If the workplace (colleagues or senior team) is scary, this is a red flag. You want to enjoy where you are working and who you are working with.
Is the environment aligned with your values?
You want the role to scare you, not your environment. If you need to have structure, does this next workplace provide that? If you thrive on collaboration, is that how people work at this next place? There are many different structures, hierarchies and cultures, and you want to select one where you will thrive.
[Related: How to Take Charge of Your Career]
Is the offer competitive?
Notice I said "competitive," and not a specific percentage increase. It may make sense to take a lateral salary or even a pay cut. But you want to make sure the offer is competitive for the role, the industry and the value you’re bringing.
How does this job compare to other alternatives?
If you don’t have other alternatives to compare, then how do you know there isn’t something better – more challenging, more aligned with your work style, more highly compensated?
Do you feel pulled or pushed?
Are you pulled to this new opportunity or pushed out of your old one? This isn’t to say that you won’t serendipitously get a great next opportunity when you’re miserable in your current job, but you want to make sure that the next job is truly something that interests you for its merits and not just because you want to get out of a bad situation where you are. You don’t want the next job to be the rebound boyfriend/ girlfriend!
Does the job feel right?
Finally, you can and should evaluate that next opportunity from an analytical perspective, but also from a more intuitive/ feelings perspective. Are you excited and energized at the prospect of working there? Are you looking forward to starting? If the job seems right as you analyze it but doesn’t feel right, you need to do more due diligence to uncover why your gut is giving you these warning signs.
Properly evaluating your next opportunity requires that you take time and not just jump into the next thing you’re offered. Proper evaluation also requires that you know yourself – what do you want, where do you thrive, what are your talents and gaps – so if you don’t, take additional time to build that self-awareness. Finally, take enough time that you can listen to your intuition and gut feelings amidst all the anxiety and excitement of a new opportunity.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career and business coach with SixFigureStart®. She has coached executives from Amazon, American Express, eBay, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, Tesla, and other leading firms. Her latest book is Jump Ship: 10 Steps To Starting A New Career (Forbes Media, 2015). She also writes a weekly advice column on Forbes (where this post originally appeared).
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