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When Should I Make a Change?

March 06, 2020

Every conversation that our team has with recent MBA graduates often comes back to the same topic: when is it the right time is to make a change? Some were exploring an entirely new role after school and realized it’s not the right fit. Others chose a familiar path with the intent of moving on after fulfilling a commitment. Recruiters have reached out to other candidates with compelling offers. Still others are re-evaluating their priorities given changing life circumstances.

With this in mind, we wanted to share some insights from these conversations and provide some resources as you navigate your own career choices over the coming months.

1) Start long before you need to make a change

With time pressures, seemingly putting demands on every second of our days, there is pressure to make quick decisions and snap judgements that can impact your long-term career value by millions of dollars, not to mention happiness and growth. We put hours of research into house, car, even smartphone purchases, so why not slow down when deciding which career role to tackle next?

2) Conduct an honest evaluation – be objective!

The first step is to re-evaluate your priorities. ProValues will help remind you what makes you happy in roles, thus guiding to what better roles may lie ahead for you. If you only have 5 minutes, list some things you value out of a career (i.e. compensation, prestige, social environment) on a piece of paper or smartphone, and re-visit that list when updating ProValues or discussing with your support network. The key is to create and use a framework for making decisions, rather than just having a “gut feel”. It will also make this next step easier.

3) Engage your support network

Whether a spouse, friends, family, Board of Advisors, our team, or all of the above, engage those around you when deciding next steps.

For instance, we were recently working with a startup leader looking to find a new role after an acquisition. While the person was excited to explore other start-ups, early discussions revealed the desire to be part of a larger team and some stability. Our modeling of their future career outcomes initially suggested business development roles in large tech. However, engaging mentors helped them realize biases driven by company-specific issues at their old employer. With this added perspective, they recently landed a leadership role at an exciting startup, while also volunteering to mentor other start-up teams to expand their time with large teams.

4) Avoid the “Grass is Greener” temptation

Hopefully through the points above, you’ve clarified what you want. The point of avoiding the “grass is greener” is to ensure you apply your own set of criteria when measuring your success, rather than measuring up to someone else. Yes, it is hard, and yes, those many of the profiles of peers on LinkedIn make it seem like they are doing everything right.

As time goes on, LinkedIn updates from peers, profile in the media, and comparison to our own expectations may lead us to question whether we’re on the right path. “Maybe I should try consulting?”, “Instead of social enterprise, I’m recruiting for banking”, and “I’m ditching my startup idea” are all things we’ve heard over the past few months.

The truth is that everyone’s ideal path is different, and unknown opportunities and challenges can impact your trajectory. Clients have joined startups that turned into multi-billion-dollar tech unicorns. Others have thrived, until they faced a bad boss they had to navigate around. Or, their employer failed due to lack of funding. If looking at “better opportunities” elsewhere, ensure you’re aware of the true costs of taking those opportunities. What are the risks? Will it distract from raising your kids, or caring for a family member? Could your networking opportunities be constrained? Will the role negatively impact your health?

Next Steps

If you’re serious about pursuing your next opportunity, here is a checklist to get you started:

  • Update your ProValues and do an honest assessment of your current role
  • Plan coffee with a mentor or close friend to brainstorm options and ideas
  • For any roles you’re considering, add it to your ProValues assessment, identifying criterion that require further research. And schedule some time with us to run some quantitative simulations to give you more data on which role might be right for you.
  • Engage a coach to talk through your plan.