A coworker of mine recently grabbed me for coffee and told me suddenly that they were leaving their current job for another job. He asked me if I had any advice for them and then wondered out loud whether they were making the right choice.
I have to say that’s difficult to know if you are making the right choice. A good friend of mine wondered how I was able to make the ‘right’ choice every time I switched jobs and to be honest, every time I switched jobs, I would have that sudden feeling of “oh god I made the wrong choice”. I think it’s natural to feel that way – you have a certain routine or job that you feel comfortable with and your natural instinct is to not disrupt the status quo. But disrupting the status quo can certainly be a good thing.
While money could potentially be a big concern, I thought about all the other things that I would also think about when switching jobs. Here is my list of considerations – I hope it will help you when you think about switching jobs in the future:
The amount of growth and opportunity I get from a job is something that I will strongly consider before switching to a new job. Even if I have to take less money, I know that my growth will outpace my salary and my salary, I truly believe, will ‘catch up’ in time. I have incredible confidence that the more you learn, the more you earn which is one of the reasons why I like to read so much. Plus, consider the weird correlation that rich and successful people read more.
How likely will you improve in your new job? Or will your new job force you to grow in ways that are uncomfortable to you?
Perhaps Tim Ferriss’ book The Four Hour Work Week said it best – if you are working 50 hours a week and making $100,000 a year, essentially you are making $50 / hour. Contrast that if you are working 25 hours a week and making $60,000 a year, then you are making $60 / hour. You are working less but per hour, you are making more than someone who works twice as much as you do. The new rich value this time over the total amount of money you make.
There’s nothing wrong with making tons of money and working a ton but do you have enough time to do the things you want to do outside of work? Do you have time to spend with your family? Do you have time for your hobbies? Do you have time to exercise? Travel?
What’s the per hour salary you would be getting in your new job?
Where will you be working? Is it closer to your home than your previous job? Studies say that you are the happiest when you are close enough to walk to work and not as happy if you have really long commutes (hour plus commutes). If you can take a job where you can walk to and from work every day, that’s an added bonus of getting a bit of exercise in and being close enough where you do not have to drive, worry about parking, traffic jams and all that other stress that comes with cars.
Is your new job closer to you? Easier to commute to?
Mentors / working with smart people
This tip is related to growth – do you have the opportunity to work with smart people that you can learn from? Sometimes, meeting that mentor or that incredibly smart, ambitious individual that you can befriend can make a huge difference to your career. It turns out that this is the case in consulting – attach yourself to a particularly smart manager or senior manager and as they rise up in the company or get snatched away by a competitor, they will likely bring you along for the ride, giving you the opportunity to rise up as well.
Do you have the chance, in your new job, to work with incredibly smart and ambitious people?
Contribution to the world
I once posed a question to one of my friends and someone that I considered a mentor if they did some work for a client and the client paid for the work but essentially did not use any of the work (in consulting, we call this shelfware because it ends up on a shelf somewhere), would they still want to do the work in the first place? He said no. And I can understand this – if you are putting effort into a deliverable or work product, you want to be able to showcase that work and effort and see that being used somehow to add value.
On the other hand, I said yes – for me, the fact that I can do good work is motivation in itself. As long as I know that I put in a solid effort to do the work and that it was excellent, it did not matter to me whether or not the deliverable was used or not. This, I felt, was a more sane way of looking at our outputs because realistically I knew that not all of my work would end up being used in some way.
If you look at your new job, will you have a chance to contribute in a significant way to the world? Society? To individuals? More so than your current job?
I know one individual who interviewed at a company and wanted to work at the company so much that they ended up taking an inferior job hoping to internally transfer into the job that they actually wanted. I don’t think I could do that myself but I certainly admire this individual for their persistence and grit – and whether it works out for them or not, I know they will be successful because of their work ethic.
This is just to say that sometimes you have to work your way up a company to get to the position or opportunity you want. And if you are interested in shortcutting your way to success, there’s a great book called Smartcuts by Shane Snow that you should read.
What future opportunities will this new job give you or open up for you?
Perks and side benefits
Once, in grade 12, my teacher told the class that if they liked reading, they should get a job as a limo driver. We all wondered why. She explained that as a limo driver, they are waiting around a lot and so they have a lot of time to read as they are waiting around for people to drive. I thought this was an interesting side benefit of a job.
Consider what side benefits or perks you may get with your new job. Does it align with your interests and hobbies?
Do you love to travel? One great thing about consulting, if you are up for it, is the opportunity to travel for projects. You may not always travel to a glamorous place though but you do get to travel to new places, if you want, for different projects. You may also not have the time to explore a new place but at least you get to travel on the company dime.
Do you like traveling to new places? What opportunities are there in your new job to travel?
Opportunity to be outside
Some jobs are purely office jobs. You get to work, stay in a cubicle for 8 hours and then leave. Other jobs allow you to travel to the client site, work outside or even work from home. Do you want to be stuck in a cubicle for 8 hours at a time? Or would you rather be outside from time to time, traveling to and from your work to other places?
Ideally, it wouldn’t matter whether you went to a college in a small city or Harvard but in reality, it does matter. One has a big name for a reason and with that big name comes prestige and a certain standard or level of quality that you expect from an individual attending that school.
I know a few friends of mine who have pursued certificates and degrees at big name schools precisely so that they could include those big names on their resume or CV. And I’ve also had friends get degrees from no name schools because the only thing that mattered was the education and the knowledge gained and not the name of the school.
Does it or does it not matter? It depends on what you plan on doing. If you are going into investment banking, it certainly helps you to go to a top business school. If you are doing independent consulting, having an MBA, even if it’s from a no name university (and no disrespect to any university here at all), can be fine.
Are you early in your career? You may want to have that big name on your resume. Are you looking for the right opportunity and already have lots of great experience? It probably does not matter whether you work for a ‘big’ name company or not.
What are your thoughts on these non-monetary considerations? Have you switched jobs? What did you think about when switching?