Switching Jobs? Three Things to Consider Before Jumping Ship

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By David Hanan, CMA

Member of IMA Young Professionals Committee

Senior Accountant, Stemilt Growers, LLC

I consider myself lucky since I enjoy my job. At one point, I considered transitioning to a different company. During that process I asked myself three important questions that allowed me to evaluate whether the position and location I was considering was a professional and personal fit. In this tough economy, many young professionals in the accounting field might jump on an attractive offer from another company. But before doing so, you should consider these three questions to ensure that you accept a job for the right reasons.

1.       What is making me want to change jobs?

This question requires a true evaluation of your current situation. Ask yourself:

·      Is the corporate culture in line with my values (work/life balance, ethics, etc.)?

·      Are there limited opportunities available at my job?

·      Is the location ideal? (near family/friends, short commute, good weather, etc.)

·      How do I get along with the people I work with?

It is important to determine whether the motivating factor to accept a new position is simply out of frustration with current circumstances, or if it is really the right opportunity. If it is the former, raise the issues with your boss to see if you can come to a mutual understanding. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, consider whether the same frustrations will occur in your new position.

For example, if you have a problem with the corporate culture then jumping ship to a company whose value statement more closely aligns with yours could help. However, if you are unhappy with the core responsibilities of your position and your day-to-day tasks, then going to a new company with a similar job title won’t solve your problems.

2.       Is the location of the job somewhere I would be happy living five, 10 or 20 years from now?

Due to the weak job market, many young professionals are going to where the jobs are. While it’s beneficial to be open-minded about moving to other cities, keep in mind certain factors that will impact your happiness in the short- and long-term.

In the short-term, consider whether you can afford to move. An entry-level salary in New York City doesn’t get you as far as one in a smaller city. While this might not matter in the immediate future, consider in the long-term if you want to buy a condo or house as opposed to renting. Other factors that can contribute to your long-term job satisfaction and general happiness include proximity to family/friends and weather conditions of the new location. The area one lives in is a significant factor in lifestyle and happiness, and it is important that the area be taken into careful consideration.

For example, my wife and I were looking at moving to a bigger city and had several job offers. Certain factors deterred us from taking these offers, including housing prices, the neighborhoods of the houses we could afford and the proximity to outdoor activities. The bigger cities we looked at had higher housing prices that weren’t necessarily offset by a higher salary, and the neighborhoods didn’t feel like the place where we wanted to raise a family. On top of that, a bigger city meant a greater distance from activities we enjoy such as boating and skiing. 

3.       Does this position provide opportunities that are in line with my short- and long-term career goals?

At this point it is time to evaluate the job and whether it aligns with your short- and long-term goals. If you fully expect to switch jobs after a few years, think twice before accepting a job at a company whose value proposition is based around the long tenure of its employees and its policy of promoting from within.

Also consider what transferrable skills you will gain, and whether this knowledge will give you the flexibility to apply to positions at different types of companies/industries down the road. Many young professionals start their careers in public accounting, yet 80 percent of accountants and financial professionals work inside businesses and organizations. Consider how focused your responsibilities will be and if this will limit you in terms of where you see yourself in five years.

Everyone has different priorities, so the reasons for accepting a new job will vary from one person to the next. Remember, it is important to make sure you are keeping your own priorities in mind when deciding whether or not to accept a job offer. Changing jobs for emotional reasons can often land you in the same frustrated place you were to start with.

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