The Fit Factor: Evaluating Potential Opportunities

In matters of the heart, logic seldom rules. If you were asked to explain why you loved your spouse or partner, you might be able to list traits and qualities that you admire, but you wouldn’t be able to give a factual, logical explanation of the attraction. You just “clicked.”

In our careers, that “click” is also extremely important. As you consider staying in your current job or making a transition, two points are worth considering.

decide_between_executive_career_opportunities1) Change is uncomfortable. Even if your current job is not a great fit or no longer challenges you intellectually, it can be hard to shift yourself to make a move. You probably work with people you like. You may know their families and their personal stories. You have a comfortable routine. You know the commute, the good lunch places, your boss’s preferred communications style. All of that will change if you change jobs.

2) The unknown is romantic. Conversely, and especially if you’re not really happy in your current job, the unknown territory of a new position can seem fresh and exciting. Of course, until you’re actually settled into the new job, you’ll never really know whether you’ll like it better than your old job. But the allure of the unknown can make it seem fresh, romantic, desirable.

Your personality will make you lean more in one direction than the other – either you’ll resist change or you’ll be enticed by it! But when you are evaluating new opportunities, you can look carefully at several key factors to help you find the fit that’s right for you.

• The job. In your new job, will you be spending most of your time on the kind of work you love best? Don’t be blinded by the job title, the company, the people, or the money. Think about the actual tasks of the job and the problems you will be asked to solve. If you love the challenge of a turnaround, don’t take a job where incremental small improvements are the goal. If you are extroverted, don’t take a job that isolates you from people much of the day. Understand what you love to do and the environment where you perform at your best, and look for that kind of fit.

• Your boss. As best you can, evaluate your potential new boss for leadership style, communication style, and past career history. When and where has he done his best work? Is she collaborative or command-and-control? What do current members of the team have to say about the boss? (You may have to read between the lines.)

• Your career. Does the new job align with your current career goals and interests? And, as best you can tell, will it help you reach your long-term objectives?

• The people. It’s hard to get to know people through a series of relatively short interviews, but do your best to connect with as many people as possible before you take the job. Do they seem happy and fulfilled by their work? Do you see signs of stress everywhere? How do they talk about their colleagues and bosses? What’s the typical tenure – and does that match your expectations?

• The company. Do you think the company is headed in the right direction? Do you respect the top leadership? Do you believe wholeheartedly in the work that they do or the products they produce?

• The culture. What is the work style and philosophy that you’ve been able to observe during the interview process? Is it serious, intense, nose-to-the-grindstone? If so, how do you feel about that? Does it seem that staff spend a lot of  “water cooler” time – and, again, how do you feel about that?  

No job is perfect, of course, but the more closely it fits your personality, preferences, and personal and professional objectives, the happier you’ll be and – very likely – the more successful you’ll be. So before you make that “stay or go” decision,  think carefully about every aspect of the new job to determine if you’ll be better off.

BlueSteps members: If you’re struggling with this decision, or any other in your career, why not speak with one of our career coaches. They can help you move forward in the direction that’s right for you.

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