The way today’s managers approach making a job change is undergoing a transition. In some respects, it’s almost too easy. As a result, the workplace is littered with decisions gone wrong. Are you really getting what you bargained for when you decide to chase what appear to be greener pastures? Or, in the great scheme of things, would you be better off staying where you are – at least for the time being?

The above questions assume a manager is making this job change decision voluntarily. However, in the real world, this isn't always the case so we'll also look at how to manage an "involuntary job change" - being laid off.

Fairly Evaluate Both Options:
Staying and Leaving

The challenge is to look beyond the surface appeal of a new job opportunity. You need to be as critical in evaluating the new one as you are in considering the shortcomings of your current job. You need to pay close attention to what you’ll be giving up, especially if it involves leaving your current organization, and evaluate the tradeoffs. And you need to thoroughly understand what is creating your job dissatisfaction. If you change jobs for the wrong reasons, you just take the discontent with you.

Initiating a job change is a choice that deserves very serious consideration!

Are You Making a Job Change
Just Because You Can
or Because You Really Should?

Many managers are making job changes simply because they can, not because they should. Instead of expecting that doing something else for someone else will make them happier and more successful, they need to remember that, to a very large extent, any job is what they make it.

These days, it’s an unpredictable employment free-for-all. Employers are fighting for talent, restructuring, frequently resizing and changing their talent mix to fit changing market demands. Job stability, to the extent we want it as part of our work lives, and is something we personally have to engineer.

So, before jumping at a hot new job offer, be sure you’re running toward something, not from something.

Make All Job Change Decisions With a Purpose

Career Coach Richard Leider begins all his counseling sessions with the premise that each individual is born with a reason for being, and that life is a quest to discover that purpose.

Answer the ultimate question first: What is your vision of the good life?

  • Do you live in a place where you feel you belong?

  • Are you with people you care for and are your relationships working (work included)?

  • At work, are you using your talents on something you believe in?

  • Are you making decisions on purpose, fitting your overall philosophy?

There are four basic considerations in every career change decision you will make:

  • Start with yourself, not the external demands of the decision.

  • Use your “gifts”, defined as those things that make you unique.

  • Connect to your emotions and the decision will have successful results.

  • Make the decision in solitude.

Make good job change decisions using the formula: T + P + E x V:

  • Talent. Inventory your strengths and weaknesses, then focus on your strengths and manage your weaknesses.

  • Purpose. Talents develop best in the context of interest. Ask yourself what needs doing at work and in the world, then put your talents to work on some area of need you believe in.

  • Environment. For the best alignment, identify the work environment that best suits your style, temperament and values.

  • Vision. (how you see the rest of your life). Talent, purpose and environment are about work style and choice. Vision describes how work fits into the rest of your life.

Don’t sell yourself short. You spend 60% of your life working, so don’t trade off the other 40% just to have more money to spend.

  • Find motivation from without and within. For self-motivation, nothing is more powerful than the desire to demonstrate your talent.

  • Get advice from within and from without.

  • Ultimately, every decision comes from within you.

  • Find at least one or two people who can be regular sounding boards for you.

  • Make your job change decisions the way senior citizens wish they had (from over 1,000 interviews):

    1. They would have been more reflective.

    2. They would have taken more risks.

    3. They would have understood what really fulfilled them (realizing their talents, adding value, living by their values and integrity – being who they were as fully as possible).

Carefully Evaluate the Trade-Offs
Before Leaving a Job

If you are considering leaving your current organization, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you really addressed your disenchantment with your current job head-on?

  • What is it worth to leave the professional relationships, friendships and the personal credibility you worked so hard to build?

  • Are you willing to leave your workplace brand behind and build a new one from scratch?

  • Do you want to go through the stress of adjusting to a new organization?

  • Will you leave money on the table – stock options or a 401K?

  • Have you fully evaluated existing opportunities you can create in your current job?

  • Are you willing to trade all this for an unknown quantity?

  • Are you prepared to spend the next six months adapting to a new corporate culture and becoming proficient at your new responsibilities?

Probably the worst job change I ever made was one just the sake of making a change and I paid dearly for it! I was even invited back by my prior employer a couple of months later but was unwilling to admit to myself I’d made a mistake.

This is one of the most important lessons I learned that I can share with you. Please make job change decisions carefully, deliberately and consider the information I’m providing here.

Understand What Drives Your Job Satisfaction
or Dissatisfaction

How do you know what drives your job satisfaction or dissatisfaction? Take four different job and career satisfaction assessments and find out. You will probably discover that your reason(s) fall into one of the following four categories:

  • Job-related

  • Organization or industry-related

  • Career content-related

  • or Career self-related

Knowing where your dissatisfaction comes from will help you make the right job change change decision, and equally important, you'll be able to tell if you're making a job change, a career change or maybe both.

If you find you need a career makeover, I recommend you visit How To Change Careers, a site packed with ideas, suggestions and links to additional career change resources.

Managing A Layoff and
Finding a New Job

You and your organization partnered to match you to your current job. But that’s no guarantee things will stay the same until you choose to change them. Today’s headlines are pretty grim when it comes to the current employment outlook. Organizational priorities are changing due to the economic downturn. Mergers, acquisitions, buy-outs and business downturns are causing layoffs and downsizings.

Perhaps one of your most valuable management skills, one that clearly demonstrates your class, maturity and professionalism – but one we hope you’ll never have to use – is your ability to handle a layoff.

There’s no surefire way to bullet-proof your professional life, but you can be prepared in case. How? You’ll be way ahead of the game when you take charge of your own professional development!

The layoff recovery process, while difficult, can be successfully managed if you:

And while you're at it, take a deep breath of fresh air by acquainting yourself with Kenny Moore's wise, spiritual and humorous take on making a job change today.

Summary Thoughts on
Making A Job Change

There will be times as a manager when you feel stuck and it seems as if the best option is to leave your current job. (You may even think you’ve chosen the wrong career path.) These times will be fraught with emotion. So the first thing you need to do is differentiate between your emotional make-up and event-generated negative emotions.

Was there a particular event that triggered your unrest and ambivalence? Was the event unique and just made you angry or is it part of a pattern that is developing? Look especially carefully at your role in the event or chain of events. Are you doing anything that could be causing the problem? I recommend that because it may be that the events truly are outside your control, in which case you may have reached an impasse and need to do something about it.

Are there other people in the organization who are wrestling with a job change decision similar to yours? If there are, there’s a message there too!

Take your time to evaluate all your options. Take the “tests” to see specifically where your dissatisfaction comes from. Talk it over with a few people you trust. Then make your career change or job change decision.