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Some key questions you should ask yourself when considering moving jobs.

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As recruiters we work with candidates with all sorts of motivations for applying for a new position from the easy to understand circumstance of not currently having a job to the more complex issues surrounding the feeling of being undervalued with a current employer. In this brief article we run through a few questions you should consider when moving positions. Some of these may not apply to you in your circumstances but hopefully this piece will get you thinking about the reasons for your decision making.

Are you being fair to your current employer?

Are the frustrations you have with your current role entirely down to the employer? Have you spoken to them or have you made an assumption? Whilst there is rationale that employers should recognise staff that are feeling disgruntled and try to take steps to address these concerns it isn’t always easy to do. For example, if you want to work more flexibly but your employer doesn’t have a policy concerning this, it may be because they are against flexible working entirely or it may be that they simply haven’t considered it and would be amenable. The advantages of establishing exactly where you stand with your current employer are numerous – your experience could change immeasurably for the better meaning that the need to move evaporates; or you realise that nothing is going to change, in which case the need to move becomes starker; or somewhere between the two. In the case of the latter, this may well be important when you have secured a job offer elsewhere, you and your recruiter can anticipate any attempts to retain you by your current employer in the form of a counter offer and build that into the terms offered by the new position. It is also more likely to prevent you second guessing yourself when a counter offer comes at the final stages.

Are the reasons for moving jobs realistic?

Are you expecting too much of a new employer? Can they (or anyone) realistically deliver on the expectations that you have. Have you asked them or have you projected your hopes onto them assuming that they will deliver?

Are the assurances made by the new employer well defined?

I don’t mean the simple stuff, yes, they’ll pay you what they say on the contract, I mean the bigger picture. If they’ve said that you will be promoted in a year does this look achievable? Are any targets set to pull this off possible or fantastical? One key aspect to look for is the circumstances of the role. For example, if you join as an Audit Manager hoping to reach Partner, can you see possible reasons for demographic gaps in the partnership? Could they have retirees in the near future? Or have profits increasing significantly to justify additional Partners? How many new Partners have they created in recent years? What does being a Partner actually mean to that firm in terms of profit share, remuneration and influence?

Are the reasons that you think you’re moving jobs the real reasons you’re moving jobs?

You want to move because you want to earn £5000 more money and you think that’s the only reason you’re moving. In all honesty this is highly unlikely to be the case, when people quote salary as a motivation it is usually because they feel undervalued by their current employer, that they’re not being treated fairly. A lower than market salary is evidence of this, sure, particularly if you are being paid less by other people in similar roles in your organisation but it is only evidence - it shouldn’t be singular motivation. What is useful is to think about all of the current frustrations you have and all of the things you would hope for in the new role. Prioritise these hopes and frustrations in much the same way as you would when buying a house. Is being near good schools more important than a large garden? Are both more important than the number of bathrooms? Can you cope with obnoxious neighbours? The more motivations you can discover the easier it will be making a decision because you can more easily decide how many of your most important criteria have been met.

Sometimes something isn’t too good to be true, is this the case in this instance?

Moving jobs can be inconvenient in its process. The best job for you might be the first thing you see or the only thing you see for a while. If a job gives you most of what you want don’t be afraid to take it, if you hang around with the fanciful idea of finding a comparison you might miss out on the best opportunity. Yes, ideally, finding a range of options to choose between gives you the sense of actually making a decision but this is superficial. You have already made the decision; the most important decision was the one to leave. Deciding on the whys and wherefores of choosing between the organisations that most likely embody these considerations is secondary, very important, but secondary nonetheless.

Do you know what you’re getting yourself into?

I don’t mean on a company level (although that’s important too), I mean on an industry one. This may particularly apply if you are moving sectors, what are the career options in that sector as a whole, how would your career likely develop? Does progression mean relocation in the long term? What stresses does someone in this sector have? These questions could be particularly important at key points in your career, for example if you are leaving a relatively comfortable role in private practice for a move into industry, particularly if it’s an industry where you are less familiar.

Is there anyone I can ask?

Talking to people will help but you should always bear in mind their perspective and motivations too. Your current employer wants you to stay and their conversations will be influenced by that, your new potential employer will be trying to persuade you to leave. If you get a range of opinions that will help in forming your own and yes speak to your recruiter too. Of course, they directly benefit if you move positions but the best recruiters realise that giving good advice pays off in the end (because they will find you something else) and persuading someone to do something that isn’t right for them almost always backfires (and if you leave quickly the reputational damage is far from good for a recruiter).

I’m sure there are many more questions that could be added to this and perhaps I’ll run a follow up article later in the year but in the meantime if you would like to discuss any of the above then give Fellows Finance a call on 0113 532 7625.

Pete Fellows is the Managing Director of Fellows Finance and Fellows and Associates. He is a recruiter who has been in the market for so long he remembers fax machines (only vaguely) so he likes to think he knows what he’s talking about.

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