I need to make a confession. A couple of weeks ago I promised you a blog about how having a career plan will guarantee that you love your next job. The truth is, a career plan can’t guarantee that you will love your next job. Everyone is different. But what having a career plan can guarantee, is that you are going somewhere in your next job and are taking the right steps to reach your ultimate goal (and that will help you love it, wont it?).
The reason you aren’t going somewhere…
If you decide that the time has come to look for a new role, it is imperative that you know exactly WHY you are looking. Once you know this, you can make sure that your next role is a step towards your ultimate goal and not just a sideways move for a few extra pounds a year.
What is your current role unable to offer you? What key experiences are you lacking? Why aren’t you going anywhere? Your answer to these questions is what we call ‘your reason for leaving’. It’s the one thing that (despite loving everything else about your job) means you have to move on in order to reach your ultimate goal. So, for instance, if the next step on your journey to be a CFO is to manage a team of qualified accountants, but your current team is unqualified with no plans for expansion, your reason for leaving is because you want to lead a qualified team. If you report into a Finance Director who is unlikely to move on any time soon, and there is no room for internal promotions, then your reason for leaving is career progression.
It is important not to mistake what you are lacking in your role for what niggles you about your job; roadworks outside or a broken heating system are not professional reasons for leaving, they are things that annoy you. Remember; if an interviewing manager has their wits about them (and they usually do) you will be quizzed about your reason for leaving at interview stage. Any potential employer will be looking for a coherent and professional reason which demonstrates that you have thought about your career plan.
So, what’s next?
Here is the real benefit of understanding your reason for leaving- you can match potential roles against what you are missing and make the best possible decision.
With every potential opportunity that comes your way, ask yourself whether it would solve your reason for leaving. When you are working with a recruiter, ask them specifically why any opportunity is the right role for you. If you are leaving because you want to manage a larger team, then ask about the size of the potential team. If you are leaving because it is important to have regular contact with the MD, ask about the reporting structure and how often you will meet with them. Use these details to make an informed decision about the roles you apply for; it is better to have two successful interviews for the ideal role then ten mediocre interviews for something that just might be okay-ish. Going for interviews is a risky business (and not a game); think tactically about your reason for leaving and only interview for the roles that would solve your problem and that you would accept.
Doing this will also give you a huge advantage during the interview itself- when you are asked why you want this particular role you can speak passionately about why this opportunity is just perfect for you and (of course) why you are just perfect for this opportunity.
Now for the killer question
Great! You have found a potential new role that seems to solve your problem and the interview has gone splendidly. Now for the killer question- is this the right role for you?
There are lots of things to consider here (we will talk about them in another blog), but start by taking a step back to look over your career plan as a whole and work out exactly how this role will fit in.
It is so easy to get distracted by the shiny details of a new role, without looking at the bigger picture, to the point where you can’t see the wood for the trees. A role being ten minutes nearer to home or next to the best pasty shop in town would be nice, but if you can’t see yourself lasting in the role more than 6 months before needing to move on, then maybe this isn’t quite the one for you. Think carefully about how any potential role will fit in with your overall career plan and whether it would help or hinder you in reaching the next step. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t consider the effect on your life outside of work when you are thinking about your next role. Being happy at work but unhappy at home is, quite frankly, rubbish- don’t do it!
Leaving your job is a big decision and not one to take lightly. It is scary. But it is scarier to stay in a job that makes you unhappy because it stops you from getting to where you need to be. Remember why you need to leave your role and what you are trying to achieve. You might not love every minute of your next job (even ice cream tasters and princesses have their horrible, wish I could just stay under the duvet days); but if you use your career plan effectively, you will be able to find a job that you love AND will get you to where you want to go.
As my colleague Michelle says, “you only regret the things you don’t do, never the things you do do” (she is very wise).
Happy job hunting!