Seven things to consider before looking for a job elsewhere

Career development
Sarah Hobbs
By Sarah Hobbs | 10th April 2019

In financial terms you always want to make sure you get the maximum return on any investment. The same is true with your career. You invest a lot of time, effort, blood, sweat, tears and emotion into your business - and you should always think hard before abandoning this for greener fields and pastures new. Make sure that you've received the full benefit from your investment.

Our research suggests that far from the myth that successful people are job hoppers, many of them often only move organisation after eight to 15 years in one organisation (depending on the industry). This is particularly true of their early career roles. They make sure they've used up every opportunity and explored every avenue before moving - and so should you.

Here are some things to consider before you consider moving to a new company:

Have I fully activated my network for opportunities?

Are there people out there in the organisation who would help you find your next great opportunity? Your network is particularly helpful for making introductions to people in new parts of the business, and finding informal projects and secondments that could grow your CV and lead to promotion. Be aware that if you move on, it can take several years to establish a group of allies of similar quality to those you are leaving behind. If you're seeking external experience, have you considered organising a secondment with a customer or supplier of your current organisation?

Can you get someone to take a risk on you?

When you've worked internally inside a company you build a reputation and get known by a wider group of people. Often, these people will trust you to do things that your CV won't necessarily support. New organisations may not be willing to take that risk. Apply for jobs that would normally be just outside your reach - even if you are rejected, it sends a strong signal about your ambitions. You can ask for feedback about why you were rejected, and what to do to build a better case next time. Also look for opportunities to step up and perform at the next salary level - even if temporarily, and even if for free. Consider deputising for your manager while she or he is on holiday, representing the team at meetings, filling a role temporarily to cover maternity leave.

How aware are people that you are looking for a change?

Most organisations contain a diversity of opportunity - have you put it out there that you want to do some other things that are more interesting? Talk to senior people, people in HR and talent teams, and your network. Don't ask for a raise or a promotion - ask for a talk about your career. Tell people that you are now actively seeking progression and ask about opportunities they see for you. You may find that new opportunities are identified to encourage you to stay. Also, don't just rely on one person when it comes to your career. You may want to find out from HR who is involved in succession planning discussions in your area too - how visible are you to these people?

Is the grass really greener?

Recruiters and head-hunters will tell you the new role is better and the salary is bigger - but opportunities generally come with strings attached and there are often problems or challenges you may not be aware of. Salary satisfaction is often short-term. Put it aside and consider the pros and cons analytically before switching to a new organisation. What is it about the new job that outweighs the loss of your current network, the knowledge you have built up about your current business, and the reputation and track record you've acquired? Another important consideration is choosing your manager. This is much more difficult when you make an external move than when you can use your contacts to suss out your potential new boss. We all know how the right boss can accelerate our career.

Before you move, build your external reputation.

Our research shows that many of the best job moves are found via an individual's reputation. How can you work with professional societies, write articles, win awards, get patents, give talks, get your work in the news? Start to build your external profile. You may well find that being valued externally makes you more visible and valued internally! If you really want to move, don't just do it for a job that pays a bit more. A strong external reputation and network is crucial for finding a great next move; and this reputation is easier to build from the basis of an organisation you already know well.

Give your organisation a chance to make you an offer.

All too often the first time the business realises you are keen to move on, is when you tell them you've found a new job. Let people know that you are thinking about your career and the right next job. And always tell your organisation before accepting another offer. They may well make you a counter offer to stay. The more notice they have, the more likely it is that they will be able to search out a great opportunity for you.

If you do leave, make a strong effort to stay in touch.

Use LinkedIn, keep in touch with influential members of your network, maintain contact with HR. It's often possible to leave to get a broader experience - then bring that back into your former company at a higher level. This is a win-win for both parties.

Take Away: You've invested a lot in your current organisation. Make sure that you give that organisation every opportunity to keep you by helping find the right opportunities to progress.

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