Food for Thought Part I: Five Things to Think About Before You Look for a New Job

This is a two-part series. In the first installment, we will discuss considerations for candidates to think before engaging in a job search. In the second installment, we will explore factors that firms should keep in mind before deciding to recruit.

Bonus season is upon us, which is consequently also time when many professionals reevaluate their career and when management teams assess their talent needs.  Given that this is traditionally a time of more robust recruiting activity, we wanted to take this opportunity to discuss various considerations that both firms and candidates should be thoughtful about when entering the recruiting game. During my team members’ recruiting careers, we have encountered several situations in which either the candidate or the client hadn’t fully thought through their goals before engaging in the recruiting process and, as a result, spent valuable time and energy pursuing a path that would inevitably be blocked for multiple reasons.  The goal of this article is to highlight some of the steps both candidates and clients should take before embarking on a job change or a search.

For the candidate:

One search we were working on ended with the candidate turning down an offer for her dream job; it wasn’t because of money, responsibility, or counter offer, but ultimately because of personal considerations and lifestyle. Due to legal constraints, employers often cannot address these potential  obstacles during an interview process, but they are sometimes the biggest stumbling blocks to career moves and it is important that the candidate take the initiative to address these topics for themselves before deciding to actively explore a new role. If you are even entertaining the idea of changing jobs, here are some questions you should ask yourself before you get started:

  • How will this transition impact my current lifestyle? A new job might mean more money, but it will probably mean more hours. Are you willing and able to take on longer work hours and workload?  A new job inevitably comes with more pressures, either imagined or real, so you need to factor that into your decision.
  •  Is there anyone in my life who is going to be impacted by my career change? It may sound excessive, but I would recommend thinking through every person/pet/etc. that might be impacted by a career move, and create an action plan for every possible adjustment that you might have to work through with that loved one. You should have a straightforward conversation with all potentially affected individuals before beginning the interview process.
  • What are you looking for in your move?  Think through and have concrete goals for what you need in your next role. Are you looking for more money? More responsibility? A better commute? A different lifestyle? Have a check list of what you are looking for, and do not entertain roles that don’t have the potential to meet these considerations. It is very easy to burn bridges if you waste a client or recruiter’s time for a job that you cannot realistically accept.
  • What is your timing? Know when you can realistically consider a move and only pursue opportunities that align with that timeline. We’ve encountered candidates who think that they can negotiate later start dates once they have the offer in hand. I would not approach any recruiting process with that assumption. Very often, firms are recruiting for a reason—they need someone to fill the gap as quickly as possible, so having the timing conversation earlier rather than later will save everyone valuable time.
  • Will you be leaving money or equity on the table? If so, how much and is it worth it? Candidates very often forget to factor in stock options, benefits, educational support, ability to work remotely, and other intangible benefits they have in their current role. You have to sit down and make a list of all of the perks and intangibles you are currently getting and be honest with what you can and cannot give up.  We have seen several situations where, after a client has already extended an offer, the candidate will suddenly come to light with various new needs. These new considerations often make the offer extension process much more complicated and iterative for both the client and the candidate and can easily be avoided by having the full conversation before pen is put to paper.

Evaluating a job’s long term growth and why you are looking is essential before you start your search.  I encourage you to ask yourself the personal questions  and considerations that an employer might not address during an interview process, but which are sometimes the most important ones for candidates to think through when deciding whether to make a move. Take the time upfront to think through these potential obstacles, and you will save both yourself and your potential new employer significant time and energy.

Read Food for Thought Part II: Five Things to Think About Before You Recruit >>