Recently, I’ve been thinking about switching jobs. And I’m sure many of you would agree that deciding to switch jobs, and evaluating options when they become available, is not an easy task. It isn’t for me, at least. I think it’s a very big and important decision, the kind that could really change one’s life’s direction, and I think one needs to make this decision in the “right frame of mind”, and after asking the “right” questions.
Here’s what I mean by that: Based on just my own personal experience, I think once you are in a job, doing a particular kind of thing for some time, there’s a natural tendency to get bored and have wishful thoughts of what your life would be like if you were working on something different, in a different organization, with different people, etc. As it goes: ‘grass is always greener on the other side’. Or, perhaps the conversations in your social group have made you think that that’s what a person in your position needs to do, even though you haven’t felt that “need” yourself.
So, you might just go with the flow, and switch jobs based on the above, even when the new job or company that you join isn’t what’s best for you, or different from your current job in any significant way.
The idea is not to let one’s emotions drive this decision. Instead, the decision should be made after carefully analyzing and evaluating one’s reasons to switch and what to look for in the new opportunities, so that whatever the outcome of the decision (whether to actually switch or not, which company to join, the ultimate result of the decision, good or bad), one is satisfied that they had done the best they could in making an informed decision.
With this train of thought, I’m thinking of using the following six factors (in no particular order) to decide whether I should change my job at all or not, and if I do, which particular offer I should select (assuming I get any offers to chose from in the first place):
Learning & Growth:
Do you want to switch jobs because of a lack of learning and / or growth at your current one? What do you want to learn from your new job? What can you grow into? Note that this is not just about your professional learning and growth, but also personal. For example: Maybe you are a software developer, but want to learn surfing (something totally unrelated to your work), that your current situation doesn’t allow for, but in a new location (of your new job), you have opportunities to learn that skill. Or perhaps you want to learn about a new culture by living amongst it.
To a large extent, we are what we are because of the people around us – our families, friends, co-workers, neighbours, even the friendly guy at the shop. Your relationship with your co-workers is specially important these days, since we spend so much time with them. In many cases, we spend more time at work than we do at home, with our families (when you exclude your sleep time). So, do you want to switch jobs because you are looking for certain specific people to work with, that you want to be around, perhaps learn from? Are those people at that new job? Can your family move with you? Can you stay away from your family? Does distance have an impact on your friendships, and does that bother you? How difficult is adjusting in with new people for you, if at all?
Are you looking for better work-life balance? Are you a workaholic or do you need your “me” time? Are you looking for more “work” or more “life”? What expectations do you have from the change? Maybe you want to start your own business or take up a hobby professionally on the side, along with your main job (for the time being)? What are your thoughts about the job timings and other policies regarding leaves and work-from-home? What’s your life like on the weekends? How would you like it to be?
Is making more money the main reason for your desire to change jobs? How much are you earning currently and what’s your expectation from the new one? Can you compare performance reviews and appraisals between the two? What will be your “in-hand” or “take-home” income vs the total package (the “CTC”)? What additional benefits are available? What will be the impact on your taxes? What about adjusting for the cost of living in a different location? Do you see potential monetary benefits in the long run for a particular option? Are financials even a concern for you?
Do you want to work in a specific city? What’s the general environment like of the location? Do you want to work in a metro or a smaller city? Is it relatively safe, crime-wise? What’s the night-life like? Do you know people in that location? How much time would you be spend commuting? What’s the public transport like? How frequently would you need to travel to your “home” city to be with your family, if at all?
For this, just actually try to visualize what your life would be like in, say 3 to 5 years, in your current situation? Perhaps you’d be working with the same people in the same building, doing similar kind of work? What would you like your life to be? Is the new opportunity more in line with your vision? Think not just from a work perspective, but also about the kind of person you’d become in those 3 to 5 years if you go with a given option. This could perhaps be the most important factor, depending on the type of person you are and what you are looking for.
So there’s my list of factors (and related questions) that I’m thinking of employing in making my decision. A couple of things to note though (that you might’ve done already):
- Not all of these factors would be relevant or important for everyone. Even for the factors that are, not all of the questions may be. The idea is to give an idea about the kinds of things one might want to consider, and some sample questions that one might want to ask oneself. Everyone has to think according to what works for them.
- Things are inter-related; we can’t look at one thing in isolation. That’s because these factors just look at the same problem from different angles. For example, the decision to move to a a big metro city is influenced by all of the factors like “location”, “financials”, “people”, etc.
- We may not always have the knowledge to answer some (or even most) of the questions that we think of as relevant. Which is fine I think. As I’ve hinted at earlier, the main point is not to answer the questions, but to make sure that we’ve looked at the right questions in the first place.
This is the first time I’m seriously thinking about switching jobs, and I’m still learning and making this up as I go along. With time and experience, I’d probably have changes to this list. But till then, this is all I’ve got!
What are your thoughts? What do you look for when deciding to make a job change? As always, I’d appreciate your comments. I think bouncing ideas off each other is one of the best ways to learn, discover and improve!