When to job hop

A fatter pay cheque is not the only reason for a job switch. Change does play an important role in building a rewarding career.

By Rajshree Kukreti | Print Edition: December 14, 2006

Change, as the axiom goes, is inevitable. It is simple when you are stuck in a rat trap where the work is a routine, the boss cribs and nasty colleagues smirk. You find yourself a new job and start afresh. But what when you are a whiz at your work, co-workers respect you, the management keeps giving you regular increments and you don’t suffer from Monday morning blues? Do you need a change? Should you be forwarding your bio-data to all and sundry?

Being glued to the same work profile will not add any value to your professional growth. It is time to look for a place which forces you to think and learn again. Getting out of such a comfortable workplace requires immense effort.

Revisit your career aim once again and then take the next step. While a not-so-comfortable job environment may push you over the edge, don’t jump at the first job option that comes your way. A change in work needs careful evaluation and study of situation both inside and outside the organisation. Running away from a sticky situation is not a good course to follow.

Each new job will come with its own set of problems. If you make it a habit of looking around for a new job each time there is trouble at work, it will soon show in your CV too. Try to resolve the problems at work instead of looking for escape routes. Change should be backed by a strong reason.

Leaving a company requires as much thought as joining a new one. The time spent with an organisation is an investment you are making in your career equity. Not only does learning take place, a company, too, gets time to invest in the employee. Four different jobs in five years will not present an employee in good light. You will be taken as someone who won’t stay long enough to make any significant contributions. Frequent job changes may also be associated with either a lack of achievement on their part, or a personality problem. If you don’t have sufficient achievement to support you, don’t quit in a hurry.Build on your career worth that is visible on your CV too and then take the plunge.

When the company you are working for stops growing, yourb progression too automatically comes to a halt. Under such circumstances it is wise  to step out of  the company.

MONEY TODAY has compiled a checklist that will help steer you in the right course of action. The third in the series on careers will guide you as you stand on the threshold ofa major career move.

Are you being pushed out?

Before venturing out, just check out for those subtle signals that will place your position in the company in the right perspective. Do not brush them off. It is a push if you have been stuck in the same position for quite some time and there is no hope of a decent salary increase. If your duty list mostly includes chores not many want to take, and are not on the priority list of your boss, then be sure there is not much to look forward to in the organisation. A nasty superior could also be responsible for the need to look outside your present place of work. Such experiences are very personal in nature and need to be evaluated individually. Every career goal needs to traverse a certain path, but if your job does not provide you with such movement, then it is okay to scout for options. If you are a valued employee your role at your workplace would be quite different. From being the face of the company to the person involved in important projects, you should be doing it all (“Are You Investing in Your Career”, November 16). Such employees need not look outside but build their equity within. On the other hand, if the indications are opposite, you should seek an alternative course.

Is your current job making you lazy?

The best thing to do in a situation like this is to pause and think. Is the sense of euphoria that surrounds a good worker lulling you into complacency? Most likely these are indications that you have stopped learning thus putting your growth on the backburner. It is obvious that you have outgrown the job as it is no longer challenging. A specialist tends to stay stuck in the same position if he does not add value to his skills. When a workplace gets too comfortable, it is a sign one must move on. Working towards your career goal also gets difficult when learning takes a backseat as finishing the mundane tops priority. If that is what you are encouraged to do, then alarm bells should start ringing. Even after careful evaluation, an employee may not be willing to leave a secure position to test waters in a new place. Such an initiative would require motivation and clear-cut strategy to reach the career goal.

Is the new job adding value to your CV?

You can’t just go around shopping for a job, just because your colleague has got a new one. Don’t be dazzled by all the fancy designations and salaries floating around. Plan a shift only if it will help you utilise your skills. Find ways to explor whether this new job might be right for you. Once you have defined the job you think you want, research information about what it might take to get into the field. Think about ways to make sure this is the correct choice. Examine alternatives carefully. Would you need retraining or additional qualifications. Do you need to join professional associations to network and learn about the field.

Use your professional and social network to find someone who is doing the job you want to do. Arrange a conversation where they can tell you about it and give some advice. Make use of resources available on the Net to research the field, check out chat rooms, message boards or e-lists to meet people. If possible test out your interest in the job first. It is better to be safe than sorry, as “post-cognitive dissonance” may set in once a person realises that the new job is not as hot as it seemed. Once these elements have been factored in, it makes the shift easier and more profitable.

Is the job switch beneficial?

You may have done enough cost-benefit analyses (CBA) for your company. Now is the time to do one for yourself. CBA is a widely used technique for deciding whether to make a change or not. You may have been intensely creative in generating solutions and rigorous in your selection of the best one available, plan your career change with equal understanding and intensity. As you add up the value of the benefits of your course of action, and substract the costs associated with it, remember benefits are most often received over time. In its more sophisticated approach cost-benefit measurement models try to put a financial value on intangible costs and benefits. This is what you need to do as you hop on to a new job. Apart from considering the financial benefits, also take into account factors like will the company help you grow both personally and professionally. Where will you be in three years time is an important question to ask yourself as you plan the switch. Remember building a team and a personal equity with the company takes time. Would you still be able to spend quality time with your family also needs to be considered.

Is your career goal any closer?

Before embarking on any new job, you must carefully assess your career strategy. Your goal should represent what you ultimately hope to accomplish. This goal may be to obtain a specific position or to work in a particular career field. When you set your career goal, set a reasonable time frame indicating when you would like to reach it. Your career goal may include a job that you are now qualified for as well as a job you want to qualify for in the future. Your objectives should focus on enhancing your education, skills, experience and should be measurable and tailored to achieve your specific career goal.

You must be able to recognise when you are working towards your career goal. Similarly you should first comprehend whether the new job helps you achieve your goal. There are several routes to reach a particular goal. Whether you want to set up your own enterprise or become a CEO, you need to understand the functioning of each department of that particular industry. If the new job provides you with an environment that will facilitate your growth and conforms to your career strategy, it’s time you gave it a try.

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