Thinking of Changing Jobs? Consider These Points First

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A friend of mine, Brad, was increasingly frustrated with his job. It was one thing after another: A project he had hoped to work on was given to another team. He had to spend too much time guiding new programmers. And although he appreciated the benefits of pair programming, he was a solo sort of guy and preferred to stay that way. These reasons and others led Brad to consider looking elsewhere.

But before Brad could initiate a job search, he sustained an injury that forced him into a lengthy recovery period at home. Fortunately, he was able to work from home, so he had no problem meeting his commitments. When he was finally able to drive, he decided to look into two companies that seemed like possible future employers. One was a company that had tried to recruit him, so lining up an interview was easy. At the other, he had a contact who was able to help him arrange an interview.

What Brad came away from the interviews with was not what he expected. At both companies, the positions he interviewed for would have necessitated extensive overtime. His current job, by contrast, occasionally required additional hours, but that was the exception, not the norm.

But that’s not all. Reaching one of the companies entailed a brutal commute, unlike the twenty-five-minute drive he was used to. The other company had employees located globally, but there were more employees in more locations than he believed led to effective software development. And in both companies, he’d have had to start lower on the totem pole than where he was currently until he’d proven himself. He’d eventually have a crack at the complex projects that he yearned to be part of, but no one could say when.

The experience of looking elsewhere was an eye-opener for Brad. He now saw the negatives in his current job as much less important than what he’d be giving up by changing jobs. Did it make sense to abandon a company where he had many friends and he was well-established, highly respected, and recognizably competent? Definitely not, he concluded. Plus, he’d been working from home for two months, and his manager remained fully supportive—no small thing.

Certainly, there are valid reasons to look for a new job. In fact, it may be that you can achieve some of your career goals only by switching jobs. But in considering the right and wrong reasons for changing jobs, it’s important not to see the current job as no good and some unknown future job as the “perfect solution.” As Brad discovered, things that seem negative in the current job may be strikingly less so when compared with the alternatives.

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