Have you ever come across a new career opportunity and wondered if it was the right move?
This is a valid concern, and you certainly wouldn’t want to miss a good opportunity! Recently, I’ve been coaching my staff on these types of decisions, trying to help them meet their future goals. I’ve also been watching other people take on different positions when their motives were unclear. These decisions are important because they have an impact on future job satisfaction, long-term employment with an organization, and goal setting.
What follows are two key questions that will help you weigh the pros and cons when considering a career move.
These decisions are important because they have an impact on future job satisfaction, long-term employment with an organization, and goal setting.
01 | Where do you want to go and why?
When I first start working with a new employee, I like to find out where they want to go in the future. Some want to remain frontline clinicians, while others hope to move up to a leadership or supervisory role. I also ask why they want that future job. This last part is key as it clarifies the values that fuel their goals and helps them consider what’s important to them about the future position. It also prompts them to talk about why they want the position and figure out if their view of the job is accurate and aligns with their expectations.
At one point in my career, I was considering a higher-up position in my organization, so I scheduled a meeting with the person who was leaving to find out more about it. During the conversation, she asked me why I was interested in the job. My reason was to use my strategic planning skills more, which would be put to better use if I had more control over the work, which is something this new position would allow. She cautioned me that, in any position, we only have so much control and there are always other agendas at play. I had to reflect on what I wanted out of my next job and think about why it was important to me. And if I didn’t get that, would the change in position be worth it?
Knowing what you want and why you want it makes a big difference when planning for and selecting future positions.
Clarifying Your Values
Knowing what you want and why you want it makes a big difference when planning for and selecting future positions. Clarifying some of your values can come from asking yourself, What do I like and dislike about my current job? This should give you a long, thoughtful list of values including:
- What kind of workplace culture you want
- What your achievement goals are
- What brings you satisfaction
- The type of work you enjoy
- What best suits your skills
- The types of people you like working with
- What schedule you prefer and are willing to work
- How much money you need to make
Knowing these items can help you consider if a position is a good match or not.
02 | How will the next opportunity help you grow?
Most people feel nervous and unprepared when starting a new job. Of course this is the case, because if you don’t feel uncomfortable, then you won’t have anything to learn! If you are career planning and trying to work your way up to a certain goal, then every job change should fill a gap where you need to grow. Whether it’s a gap in your knowledge, leadership skills, or experience, the goal of taking a new position should be to stretch your boundaries and add to your resume. For many people, this means going outside of their comfort zone to gain long-term benefits. It could also mean making a lateral move within your career to develop new skills over time.
Now, considering the first clarifying question, your next job might not be in alignment with all of your values for why you would change positions. However, it could provide other learning benefits that are worth making temporary sacrifices for.
If you are career planning and trying to work your way up to a certain goal, then every job change should fill a gap where you need to grow.
For example, someone once asked me if she should apply for a certain job. The challenge was that this job wasn’t in alignment with her passion at work – her why – which was to improve patient care and experience. The position was more behind the scenes, meaning she wouldn’t be able to work with patients. However, it was a higher-up position where she could learn the basics of the required roles and duties, and could potentially mean a lateral move to another position at the leadership level that did focus on patient care. She had to decide if the trade off for one value (her passion for patient care) was worth gaining another (moving toward a leadership role), even temporarily. This was a challenging choice, but a good one to think about when considering new job opportunities.
These two main questions are complex and multifaceted, but with guided conversations, they can help you consider your options. Remember that as we mature and our life circumstances change, our values and goals will shift. For example, a new parent might value working part time rather than advancing their career; or someone toward the end of their career might value financial gain over skill development. These fundamental questions will guide you toward making a better choice with long-term benefits by helping you consider what you really want out of a new position.
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