Even if you like your job, it’s pretty normal to question if you’d be better off somewhere else.
Keeping an eye and ear open for new opportunities isn’t a sign of disloyalty. In fact, you might find that looking around only confirms that you’re in exactly the right role.
Here’s a secret: The people who make the best career moves aren’t jumping ship simply for a bigger paycheck or to avoid one annoying co-worker. They’re forward-thinking, goal-oriented, and thinking holistically about how this change will impact their career.
So, if you’re unsure if you’re leaving your current position for the right reasons, ask yourself these four questions:
1. Will You Be Better Able to Achieve Your Goals?
Maybe you’ve always wanted to pursue a particular avenue in your career. Or maybe, you’ve recently found a passion you want to dig into at your day job. If your goal is to eat, sleep, and breathe content, and there are all of zero writing opportunities in your current role, it makes sense that you’d want to go somewhere where that’ll be a bigger part of your job.
But, if that’s what you want in a new job, it has to be your priority. You’ll want this new role to solve the professional frustration you’re experiencing (and not just be the same problem in different wrapping) or help you meet that new goal.
One great way to assess how your new role fits into the larger career picture is to find out what happened to the last person who held the job. This information can tell you a lot: If the company isn’t forthcoming with it, that’s a red flag. However, if the person got promoted within the organization or moved on to do the kind of work you’re dreaming of down the road, it’s a good sign that this is a positive stepping stone.
2. Does the New Job Give You the Chance to Expand Your Skill Set the Way You Want?
If this new role empowers you to learn things you’d otherwise be spending your free time reading about, that’s a great sign. The old adage, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” may be cliché, but that doesn’t make it irrelevant.
Late nights will be a lot more palatable if you’re learning things that you feel are valuable—and interesting. So, ask yourself: Would you seek out the information you’re learning in this new job even if you weren’t being paid for it?
And if it isn’t something you’d otherwise be studying on a Sunday? Then ask yourself if it’ll help you reach your overall career goals. (Because of all the reasons I’ve already mentioned.)
3. Will You Have a Greater Sphere of Influence?
Most people are motivated by the opportunity to inspire meaningful, positive change through their work. There are few things as defeating for career-minded, goal-focused people than feeling ineffective.
In a study where participants were asked to build consecutive sets of Legos for less and less money, one group’s previous creations were saved until the end of the experiment, and the other group’s were broken apart as soon as they were completed. Even though each group was being compensated the same way, the group that had its work preserved built more models.
The lesson is: We like knowing our work means something—even in the short term. So, seriously consider a new job that will allow you to have a greater impact.
4. Are You Excited About the People You’ll Be Working With?
Culture is a bit of a buzzword these days. It may be trendy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. To succeed in a role in which you’ll work closely with multiple team members, you absolutely must get along with the people. That doesn’t mean you always agree—there are even times when you shouldn’t. Rather, your team members should be people you’d seek out and connect with regardless of you taking the job. They should both challenge and inspire you to think differently and expand your methods.
So, ask to meet more people than just the hiring manager. Remember, it’s a recruiter’s job to lure you in with the best aspects of the job. Those traits may be legitimate, but you need the whole picture to make a solid decision. Pay close attention to the atmosphere, character, and situations you encounter.
Just because you like your job doesn’t mean you can’t start thinking about the next step. And that goes both ways, just because you’re ready for the next step doesn’t mean you should jump right into it. Any new opportunity worth considering should offer an improvement in all areas: creative freedom, personal growth, career trajectory, and your personal network. Make sure your next move is a thoughtful one by asking the right questions and doing some honest self-examination.