After the New Year, it’s not uncommon to start questioning things in your life. Are there better options? Should you want more? The answer is yes, and it begins with your career. In recent years, you’ve been happy to play the game and invest in office politics in the hope of bagging a promotion.
However, you’ve realized there are bigger and better opportunities out there and want to grab the bull by the horns. Understanding you’re stagnating and then doing something about it is the first step. Still, choosing a new career path, or a sideways one, isn’t straightforward. There are things to consider, such as the level of pay, the chances of progression, and the incentives.
The key to an upgrade isn’t to jump into the process head first; it’s to make an informed decision. To do that, you need to define what you want from your next career move. Here are six questions that should help if you can find the right answers. By the way, there are plenty more you can search for as the following is by no means an exhaustive list.
What Are My Motives?
There’s a question everyone is faced with in an interview scenario: “where do you see yourself in ten years?” The answer the interviewer is looking for is “here, of course, trying to climb the corporate ladder and paying my dues.” That response might get you the job, but it isn’t the truth, at least it shouldn’t be as motives change on a regular basis. What you want now isn’t going to be the same as what you want in a decade.
With that in mind, tailor the search to roles which fit your needs in the here and now. Yes, ones that have the features you think you might want in the future are also great yet don’t place too much emphasis on them. After all, your desire to be the CEO of Amazon might wane with time and experience.
To answer this question, it’s important to ask a couple of different ones. Are you looking for management experience? Is money the most crucial factor in your life? Are you trying to build contacts to get your side hustle off the ground? Be true to your agenda and never accept a role because it is offered or because you think it’s the right move.
What Is The Challenge Level?
Nobody wants to go into the office in the morning and hit autopilot. The dream for every employee is to tackle new and exciting and engaging material on a daily basis. At the same time, it’s essential that the work isn’t overly difficult as the level of enjoyment will decrease. What you’re searching for is the Goldilocks challenge – a position that is just right from a testing perspective.
The industry itself will play a major role in your decisions. Laser Light is a manufacturer of parts that uses lasers to design bespoke products to spec. Workers can expect to pay attention to detail from the research and prep stages to the production phase. If focusing on quality and delivering to tight deadlines is your thing, this is a serious contender for your number one career move. However, if it sounds too challenging, you might need to reconsider.
Keep in mind that you need to earn more money and authority by putting in the hours. Without the legwork, no one is going to hand you reins and let you take the wheel. Even if you think you’re under qualified, bite off more than you can chew and start breaking it down into bitesize chunks. When you question if you’re right for the role, it usually means you are because there is room for improvement.
Is This The Right Boss?
The person managing you is going to have an impact on your career. Think of it like a football coach giving the quarterback the proper tools to out and win the game. If he or she isn’t a perfect fit, there is no chance of winning the Super Bowl. World-class managers are flexible and know when to cheer you on, shield you from criticism, and console you. Alternatively, they should be able to motivate you with the truth when standards begin to slip.
How do you know if the person is right for you? You can start by using the interview process as a two-way street. Don’t let the people conducting the meeting hog the questions – ask plenty of your own. Try and figure out what they think about the most important parts of being a manager and see if their ideals align.
Of course, never underestimate your gut. If you get a bad feeling about somebody, there is usually a reason. Don’t assume your stomach isn’t a scientific decision-making method; it’s your brain making you aware of the warning signs.
Am I Trying To Escape?
Life in the workplace gets bad to the point where you want to leave. It doesn’t matter what job you pick as long as it isn’t your current one. Anything has to be better than the environment you’re in at this present moment. And, it generally is for about six months to a year. After that, reality kicks in as the honeymoon period wears away and you realize you’ve made another mistake. Your employer might not be as bad as the previous one, yet they are still not what you wanted.
To secure an upgrade, it’s vital that you are in control and don’t make decisions under duress. With this in mind, take a step back and analyze the options on the table. Are they any better than what you have currently? Look for things such as the work ethic, the people in charge, and the progression opportunities as indicators. Never compare them against what you have; judge them against your career motives.
Sometimes, it’s wiser to stay where you are until an unbelievable opportunity pops up than it is to abandon ship. Alternatively, if you can afford it, some people quit without a backup job and use the fear as a motivator to find their dream position. Only use this option as a last resort as unemployment can lead to worse problems than before.
Am I Too Comfortable?
On the flip side of the coin, you might put off the switch for comfort reasons. Sure, you can try something new, but you can also stay put where you know the people, the boss, and the role. The unpredictable is scary – the predictable is a blanket which makes you feel warm and safe. If you’re not mixing things up because you don’t want to let down a boss, you’re too comfortable. The same goes for excuses such as “I’ve invested too much” or “I work best under my favorite manager.”
You shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed as comfort can be a great thing. In terms of fun and enjoyment, it ranks pretty highly in the office. However, it is also destructive if it encourages you to second-guess yourself. That’s how people end up in dead-end jobs for the rest of their lives dealing with middle management politics.
Start with the small things and work your way up if you’re afraid. For example, fly out to an interview to absorb the experience. There is no reason to commit when the company hasn’t offered you the role yet. Also, remember that the things you value will still be around in the future. The work friends you love won’t disappear off the face of the earth, neither will your boss and mentor. They are always available, whether it is for drinks or advice via a text message.
Do They Offer The Right Incentives?
Incentives are one thing, but the correct ones are imperative. Again, the ones that impact your decision should center on your current motives. There is no reason to start early and finish later if you don’t have a family to take care of at home. Yes, the flexibility is nice but there are other, more pressing issues to consider.
Break the incentives down into sections and then split them up into subsections. Take money as an example. Cash makes the world spin, yet you might prefer something other than a yearly bonus. Anyone with student loans will find it easier if their employer contributes to their debts. Alternatively, those that want to go back to school will need a cash injection and the time off to study. Speaking of not going into the office, a healthy paid vacation allocation should be on the list too.
Try not to view incentives as mandatory. Savvy employers use them as a means to challenge their workers to maintain a high standard. If your employer of choice does this, it might result in a fulfilling career switch.
Lifelong careers don’t fall into a person’s lap. To find the one that is tailor-made for you, you will need to map out the steps along the way. Questions like the ones above will make life that little bit easier.