A Guide to Switching Roles

Opportunities present themselves in Corporate America, and can be fleeting.  It is important to know when to act on an opportunity and when to pass.  You may be presented with an opportunity for a new job or a promotion within your company.  A lot of times this comes as a result of doing a stellar job and others taking notice.  Other times you will be contacted by a recruiter or staffing agency through LinkedIn, looking for “people like you” to fill a role.  It is tricky to fully understand when to switch roles and which role is the right one to switch to.  This guide will help you evaluate the opportunities that have presented themselves:

Are you still learning in your current role?

  • Yes, I am still learning.  If you are still learning new things in your current role, it is a good idea to stay put.  That way you can maximize your learnings and get the most out of the experience
  • No, I have stopped learning.  If you are no longer learning in a new role, it is time to start looking for a different opportunity.  Once you stop learning and go into auto-pilot, the work becomes mindless and less challenging.  If you want to continue to push yourself to learn, seek out a new opportunity

Do you enjoy what you are doing?

  • Yes, I enjoy what I am doing.  If you love doing user experience design, for example, keep doing it.  There is no point in changing something that you love doing.  However, there may be additional factors impacting your general happiness at work.  Just because you love your role does not mean you love your company or your manager.  Keep those other factors in mind
  • No, I do not enjoy what I am doing.  If your day-to-day role and responsibilities do not excite you and keep you engaged, you should find something else to do - something you truly enjoy

Is your role challenging?

  • Yes, my role is challenging.  If your role is challenging, that is a good thing!  This means you are being pushed beyond your skill set and learning new areas.  While it may be tough, it is worth sticking it out if you are being challenged.  Keep in mind there is a difference between being challenged and being punished by your management.  If you are being challenged, you will face struggles but know you can prevail.  If you are being punished, your management is getting in your way and intentionally making your work more challenging than necessary
  • No, my role is not challenging me.  If you are not being challenged, it is time to seek a new role that is going to push you and develop your skills further

Are you excited for the new opportunity that presents itself?

  • Yes, I am excited for the new opportunity.  This is good - you should be excited
  • No, I am not excited for the new opportunity.  If you are not excited for the new opportunity, keep looking.  Don’t waste your time or someone else’s.

Are you running away from a difficult situation that you are currently faced with?

  • Yes, I am running away from a difficult situation.  If this is the case, you should stay in your current role.  If you run from the current situation because it is challenging (bad manager, tough work/life balance, etc.), your judgment will be clouded for properly evaluating new opportunities.  The new opportunity will look much better than your current situation because of the difficulties you are facing.  I suggest facing those challenges or, at the least, talking to your manager about the challenges.  It is better and more fulfilling to face the challenges than to run from them
  • No, I am not running away from a difficult situation.  If you are not running away from a difficult situation, but rather are running to a new opportunity, that is the right mindset to have.  If this is the case, you should pursue the new opportunity

Another factor that has no clear-cut answer is length of time in a current role.  Many companies mandate you stay in a role for at least 12 months before you can change roles.  Many individuals place personal mandates on how long they need to stay at a company; oftentimes, this is 3-5 years.  Perception is changing for the better of people who change roles or companies more frequently.  Especially as a young employee, you should be seeking out new opportunities.  Don’t be afraid to explore a new opportunity even if you’ve only been at a company for a year.

The last factor we’ll discuss is compensation and benefits.  Obviously, the salary needs to be right for you to consider an opportunity.  This should not be the sole factor in decision-making, but it should be a portion of the decision.  Money is important to everyone.  When making a career decision, be sure to think about compensation and how that will impact/alter your lifestyle.  If you are taking a pay cut in order to do something you love - go for it, so long as you are comfortable with a lifestyle shift.  No matter what, if you do receive an offer with better compensation at a different company, share that with your current company.  It is always a good idea to be up front with your current company about your situation and where your head is at.  Plus, they may match or beat the offer.

In making a decision to change roles, there are a number of factors involved.  Be sure to consider these factors in making a decision.  Remember - it is your career and your life.  Make a move for you because you feel it is the right move to make.