If there’s one thing you can count on as you travel along your career path, it’s that you’ll encounter some challenging decisions along the way—and the choices you make can have a lasting impact on your professional journey as you move forward.
Among those challenges you might encounter is the often-dreaded “position decision.” Does the following scenario sound similar? While at your current job, you’ve been either an active or passive candidate for other positions and at some point, a new offer comes your way. It’s like reaching a big fork in the road on your career path—do you choose to hold on to your current position or take a leap (and a possible risk) and make a change? What factors should you consider when weighing your options? How do you handle this without losing a step in your current workload and responsibilities?
The first step in this process is to acknowledge that when you’re faced with making a choice between two options, you need to figure out what determining factors matter to you. These will help you weigh the pros and cons of each, and hopefully will bring you closer to making a reasoned and informed decision.
The following are some potential key determining factors that you can use to help you make the right decision.
For almost everyone in the world of work, salary is one of the primary variables when deciding on a job. You can use salary as a point of comparison when weighing your current job against a potential new one. Does one offer a significantly higher salary than the other? This calculation should include both immediate salary and long-term potential salary. (Remember, your decision shouldn’t just be based on short-term considerations; instead, you should also factor in the long-term potential for each position.) Are the salaries for both jobs in the same ballpark? If so, then move on to other important variables to help you make up your mind.
Many companies offer benefits packages along with salaries as an incentive to join their teams. Use these perks to help you decide which opportunity suits you best. Everything is fair game—from insurance to bonuses and vacation time, tuition reimbursement for furthering your education, and even retirement planning benefits should be on the table. Does one job allow you the opportunity to work remotely, which aligns well with your lifestyle and needs? Does another have paid family leave and you’re looking to start a family? Again—weigh everything, and consider both your immediate and long-term needs and plans.
Culture and Fit
In additional to more tangible factors like salary and benefits, make sure you consider all of the intangibles that impact your work life. Think about things like environment and culture of the company, along with your relationships with the people and teams you currently or will potentially interact with—because in many ways, these effect your day-to-day work life as much as money and benefits. How about the mission of the company you work for vs. the new potential company? Does one of them excite you and energize your more than the other? This can really help bolster your need for professional fulfillment over the long haul.
Of course, the potential job is at a bit of a disadvantage here, as you won’t know precisely what it’ll be like to work for that company until you get started. But you do know what your current company is like, and can do some research on your prospective company to help you figure things out. Also, use your experience while interviewing as a guide—were you left with a positive impression of the folks you met? Did you get a good sense of what the environment is like and what things might be like on a daily basis? Did you get to meet any of your prospective colleagues? Use what you learned to your advantage (and consider collecting these key nuggets of information when going on future interviews).
Consider the practical “nuts and bolts” of your job, which come into play when forming an impression of your position. What are the offices or workspace like? Are they comfortable and inviting, and conducive to productivity? How about your individual workspace? Is one more attractive than the other? How do the commutes stack up against each other? By this point you know the drill—make a list of the things that matter to you, weigh one job against the other, and see where things stand.
What are your professional goals, both in the short-term and across your professional journey? Take some time to consider your answer to this question carefully—it’s an important one. Are you looking for opportunities for career advancement? Are you looking to build your skill set and take advantage of learning opportunities? Do you want to make a difference in your field or industry—or in the world at large? Whatever your goals are, which job is better positioned to help you achieve them? Obviously, this calls for a bit of speculation on your part, but make a job change is always a bit of a leap—but you have the opportunity to make the jump (or not) fully informed and with your eyes wide open.
Making a choice as significant as a potential job change is a major life decision, so be sure that you weigh your options fully. Do your homework, think carefully, use your best judgment, and trust your instincts if and when you find yourself at this professional fork in the road, and you’ll be setting yourself up to choose the best path.