Job transitions – they happen for many reasons. Some look for a different job to advance their career and pursue something better. Others are looking to jump ship when their current employer can’t meet their financial needs, career growth goals or even when the work environment is untenable. Changing jobs and employers when you’re mid-career has many challenges and opportunities that must be weighed equally.
If you’re considering changing jobs in the near term, there are four key things for you to consider before making the switch.
Assess Your Personal Career Goals
Sometimes, it almost seems like job-jumping is “in the water.” In other words, depending on your work industry, you and your colleagues may have plenty of opportunities to change employers and job titles or even seek a higher salary or better benefits elsewhere. Often we see this happen in the tech industry or medical field. When you hear of coworkers and colleagues changing jobs or giving up the “good” to go for the “great,” it’s tough not to imagine what you might gain from looking around, too.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with staying up-to-date on what types of roles are available in your field, and what the going rate for your experience level might be. Still, before deciding to start applying for open positions, it’s critical to evaluate what your personal career goals are – and if a job change fits into your plan.
Take time to self-reflect and define your personal goals. These include growing your experience, education and/or pursuing roles more closely aligned with your unique values or passions. For example, if you’re a software developer, you may decide you’re interested in growing into management roles or digging deeper into learning a new framework to hone your expertise as a developer.
You can also set goals about the pay and benefits you want to receive in your new role. Whether it’s an increased base salary, stock options, better health insurance, or a more flexible work-from-home policy, knowing your goals for your financial plan when job hunting is essential.
Weigh The Risks
Even if it seems as though the opportunities for career advancement at other companies are endless, changing jobs doesn’t come without risks. The tech industry is a perfect example of this. Although many opportunities are available for tech professionals, the industry is also notorious for being volatile – and recently experienced across-the-board layoffs.
Taking a new job is a risk, even if the benefits and pay structure far outweigh what you’re receiving at your current employer. When you work for a company for multiple years, you build up quite a bit of goodwill, which should result in more flexibility. You may be able to leave early to pick kids up from school or have more power to negotiate things like time off, annual pay increases or even job title changes as you grow your career. At a new employer, this level of flexibility is less likely, and you may feel like you have to work significantly harder to prove yourself and make inroads.
Additionally, it pays to remember that, often, when it comes time for a company to perform layoffs, they abide by a “first in, first out” rule. If you work in a high-volatility field, job transitions may mean you’re more likely to be laid off – even if your skillset is strong. Of course, all of this may be true, and you may still find a job switch in your best interest for both the short and long term. Weigh the risks of transitioning jobs, and move forward with caution.
Consider Investing In Yourself
Taking the time to continue your education and skill development is critical and can help you to stay competitive in the job market. Look over your resume, or list your responsibilities at your current job. Identify skill gaps, and invest in professional development opportunities to help you start to fill “holes” in your resume.
You can seek resources like online courses, workshops, or certifications that align with your desired career path. Depending on your timeline, or your desire to search for a new job, your current employer may even be willing to offer you a stipend or full reimbursement for continuing education that helps you level up your work in the day-to-day.
Prepare for Interviews, Negotiation, and Reviewing Offers
When interviewing for new jobs, prepare wisely – and keep your goals in mind. You can start by researching the company, practicing common interview questions, and preparing questions to ask your interviewer. Review your financial goals, and prepare a strong response when salary and compensation inevitably arise in the interview process. This might look like keeping your “ideal number” in mind but providing a well-researched salary range to kick off the negotiation process.
As you continue interviewing and receive job offers, don’t be afraid to negotiate – and weigh your different offers carefully against your current job role, compensation, and benefits.
For example, if a new job offer comes through and looks fantastic on paper with a much higher base salary, don’t be afraid to dig deeper to learn more about other benefits. You might ask about equity compensation, estimated bonuses, and other fringe benefits like health insurance, company-sponsored life insurance, 401(k) match policies, work-from-home policies, and any other stipends that may be available to you. Some companies even have reimbursements or grants for continuing education, adoption fees, and more.
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What Happens If You Don’t Want To Career-Climb?
Not all job transitions are in pursuit of a higher-up position, or an increase in salary and/or responsibilities. In fact, plenty of clients have considered making a job switch to step back, make a career change, or downshift into a more laid-back role in the lead-up to retirement. These transitions are okay, too, and require equal consideration. If you fall into this camp, consider:
- Why you’re motivated to step back. Are you at the peak of your career? Feeling burnt out? Uncovering your “why” can help you to ensure you’re looking for the right next step for your unique goals.
- Evaluate your finances. Understand what you have saved and how much cash you need to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.
- Make concessions where necessary. If a new job or career shift will result in less cash flow than you need, consider making cuts to your expenses. Downsizing your home, trimming recurring costs, or adjusting expectations for more significant expenses like travel or home renovations may help.
- Rebuild your retirement timeline. You may be able to retire “on time” (according to your original plan) depending on how much you have saved! However, if you move to a career path you enjoy more, you may want to continue working. Evaluate whether you’ll need to extend your career and savings timeline, or if you’ll need to make adjustments to your retirement plan based on this transition.
Being proactive in a job hunt is so important – especially if you’re pursuing a new role to further your career goals and your financial plan. This opportunity to embrace growth and change can be exciting and nerve-wracking.
Luckily, working with a financial planner and creating a unique-to-you financial plan can help you to model different career scenarios – and how they impact your short and long-term lifestyle goals. If you need help evaluating job offers or auditing your current benefits and salary to understand your total compensation – we’d love to help. Start the conversation today by clicking here.