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Do I Stay Or Do I Go? - The Pros & Cons Of A Career Move
By Kevin T. Buckley, CPC

When you are faced with a career option that may result in short-term gains or career advancement, it is important to determine what the merits of that move are. Is this in your best interests for the right reasons?

I received a call the other night from a senior person who was asking advice about what to do about the offer that he had just received. The money was excellent, the prospects as outlined to him seemed promising but something was causing him to hesitate to commit to the offer.

That was his intuition speaking, the small voice inside that cautions you to stop, reflect and consider the pros and cons of what you are about to do. Career moves are always risky propositions. It is helpful to take a measured and methodical review of what is being put on the table.

The Company:

In these times of mass lay-offs and unexpected terminations of good people, it is especially important to be as sure as possible about the company that is making you the offer. Investigate them through word of mouth, through search engines - both general purpose ones like Google and Bing as well as business specific sites that provide a clear reading on the following:

- How well their stock is doing, their dividend history
- What is their market presence - how well-known are they
- What new products or projects they have underway or anticipated
- What has their growth history been over the past 3-5 years
- What their Standard and Poors rating or other credit agencies
- What legal issues they have had to contend with; recalls,
  class-action lawsuits – anything that could affect their future
  financial stability

The Company’s Values and/or Mission Statement:

Do you identify with what they stand for?
What do competitors say about them?
What degree of respect have they earned in their particular industry sector?
What do former employees have to say about them?
How much turnover do they have?
Who among your business colleagues have dealt with them as a customer or supplier? How were they treated?
How promptly have they paid their bills?
How well-financed are they? Have they taken on a lot of debt?
Are they owned by an anonymous investor group or does senior management have a financial stake in the enterprise?

The Position Responsibilities and Authority:

How do the new position responsibilities differ in scope from your present duties?
Do the duties match the title given to you or are they a step down in authority?
What is the actual level of authority that you have to make decisions without having to seek approval from one or more senior managers?
Who do you report to on a dotted-line basis in our out of the department, region or country?
Do you have a clear idea of who your team is if you have staff reporting to you and what their functions are?
How well-experienced are these team members and how much of your time will be devoted to their ongoing training and coaching?
How will this commitment of time potentially affect the execution of your personal duties?
Are you biting off more than you can chew?
Is the company prepared to commit the money and resources required to achieve the objectives desired?
How committed do they sound to you to the department you would be joining or heading?

The Reporting Superior:

How have you been treated in the interviewing process?
Who will you be reporting to and have you met that person and established that there is a good personal chemistry?
How responsive has the hiring manager been to questions that you have?
How organized and how much in agreement are the hiring team?
Does one manager voice different expectations and objectives than his/her colleague?
Do you sense the possibility of being pulled in two different directions or having to please two very different people with different agendas?
What have they said are their expectations of performance and how will these be measured?
To what extent are you a participant in setting goals and objectives versus having them dictated to you?
How democratic is their decision-making process, generally?
Do they like to have input from their people or do they feel they just
need to have their people buy into their vision and plans?
What happened to the last person in the position and what is their attitude towards that person?

Their Expectations:

Different expectations and a lack of communication about them are two of the primary reasons for people experiencing short-term tenures and making ill-considered career moves. You need to be as clear as possible about what they expect of you and in what time-frame/s. Assumptions not grounded in reality can be fatal to your longevity in a company. When you have worked hard to achieve a good reputation and a respected position in your present employer, you don’t want to take a step backwards through a short-term job because you or they failed to establish what was expected of you in terms of results and performance.

Ask them point-blank what they expect of you in the areas of revenue-generation, improvement in bottom-line profitability of your department, cost-savings effected, process improvements realized, and any other tangible accomplishment that can be measured or quantified.

Then ask them what time-frame/s do you have to achieve these goals and objectives; are they in incremental steps or will they be based on monthly/quarterly/semi-annual/yearly results to be achieved?

Can you get them to commitment to these expectations and the consequent rewards for performance if they are met, in writing?

How restrictive is the Offer and accompanying Employee Agreement and what are they asking you to commit to? Have this reviewed by a specialist in labour law and ask what your rights and obligations are. Do your due diligence and understand completely what they are asking you to agree to.

Your Family:

Considering all issues, pros and cons, is this move going to benefit your family not only in the short-term but also in taking a longer view? Why have you decided to make a move? Is it ambition or boredom? Is it the feeling that something new would be reinvigorating for you and give you new purpose and self-motivation?

Beware of making a career decision based on feelings of excitement or any strong emotion. The prospect may be exciting but you need your wits about you to make a well-considered decision. This is difficult to achieve if you are under the influence of strong emotions.

How will this move affect your family’s well-being? We are not speaking about monetary gain but the intangible areas of family relationships, togetherness, the time you spend apart and other personal considerations like commuting, overtime, etc.

Along with improved circumstances there is either a spoken or unspoken understanding that more will be required of you in giving of your time and your energy to the fulfillment of your duties. Are you prepared to make that commitment? Have you discussed the changes that may occur with your family?

Your Present Employer:

People look at making a career move for different reasons and have different motives for doing so. What are yours? Have you reached the end of the road where you are? Is there no room for further growth and no prospects for the future? Are you moving to get out of a rut?

Consider the time you have invested with your present employer. Does the new situation present enough compelling reasons to make a move? Do the pros outweigh the cons when you put them down and compare those things that are important to you? What are the risks and are the rewards or potential rewards good enough to convince you to make the move? Will conditions improve in time if you decide to stay where you are?

Are you looking for validation from others that you feel you are not receiving where you are? Do you want to show your present employer that others see value in you to obtain an overdue salary increase? Are you inclined to accept a counter-offer if your present employer makes one to you to get you to stay? These tactics are generally based on improving your self-image or having others recognize your worth and your contributions. When you make a decision to leave it should be irrevocable. You are declaring your allegiance is no longer with your present employer. You should be prepared to follow through on your resignation and not let cold feet or sudden doubts change your mind.

These are some of the issues that you need to consider to make a career move that has been thought through carefully.

You owe it to yourself, your career and the people who rely upon you to reflect, weigh, measure and arrive at an informed conclusion based on taking all issues into consideration.

Do I stay or do I go?

Whatever you decide to do, commit wholeheartedly to the course of action that you choose for the sake of your own integrity.

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