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Change job? Here’s how to make sure you won’t regret it.

No one wants to feel regret after taking on a new job. And yet, it is something that happens often. In this article, the author outlines the steps you can take to avoid a painful career misstep: 1) Before you start thinking about your decision, outline your career goals and acceptance criteria, making a roadmap on how you will rate each item. 2) During your interview, ask probing questions about employee engagement, growth potential, expectations, metrics, challenges faced, and how long people historically remain in their position. 3) Beware of your cognitive biases when trying to make a decision. 4) And finally, before accepting an offer, prioritize networking with employees who work for the company you’re interested in and get their perspective on what it’s really like inside.

After receiving a full-time job offer to become vice president of a growing automotive group, Jordan eagerly accepted. The company was quickly acquiring franchises, and Jordan believed it would be able to work closely with the C-suite on strategic development. The CEO promised Jordan the autonomy to shape and implement the direction of the company, which she saw as a unique opportunity.

Jordan and his family jumped in with both feet – her husband quit his job and they moved across the country with their baby girl so Jordan could start his new job. Yet just a year later, Jordan’s star-studded hopes had turned to disappointment. She quit, and she and her family moved back to their original home. As executive coach, Jordan shared with me that contrary to her expectation, the CEO was almost entirely uninvolved and had no vision of what her role might be. “He thought he was giving me a lot of autonomy, but I felt abandoned and uninvolved,” she said.

Jordan’s example of boomeranging after taking a new job may seem extreme, but the statistics tell a different story. A Harris poll for USA Today found that about one in five workers who quit their job wished they had stayed in their old job, and only about a quarter of people who changed jobs said they were satisfied enough with their new job. to stay. Similarly, a recent study by The Muse found that nearly three-quarters of respondents said the new position or company they left their job for turned out to be “very different from what they been led to believe or think it would be”. Nearly half of those workers said they would try to get their old jobs back through an event The Muse calls “change shock.”

This trend has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused many people to rethink their priorities and made workers less likely to stay in unsatisfying jobs. Yet finding yourself mired in regret after taking on a new job can be not only emotionally overwhelming, but also costly – the loss of health benefits can add an average of $541 a month to your bills, and you may have to – also be dipping into your savings as you go. a new job search and interview process. The following four strategies can help ensure alignment between expectations and reality when accepting a job offer to help you avoid wishing to stay put.

Structure your decision-making process

Getting a job offer is a great ego boost; it shows that you are valuable and that your skills are in demand. However, it is essential to think beyond flattery and carefully consider what is most beneficial to you and your career, both in the long and short term. Career decisions are complicated and risky, and maintaining your objectivity without a plan is nearly impossible. Before you start thinking about your decision, outline your career goals and acceptance criteria, laying out a roadmap for how you will assess each item. This ensures that you won’t miss – or spend too much or too little time – any part of the equation. Most importantly, specify your evaluation process before begins to think about the decision. This way, you’ll avoid inadvertently reworking your strategy in a way that reaffirms your biases.

Ask probing questions

Not all promises made during an interview will be kept. Some employers may paint an overly rosy picture of life in their organization, which can fuel unrealistic expectations on the part of candidates about what to expect.

You can help avoid being misled with preventative planning by diving deep into the culture and environment during interviews. It’s important to ask probing questions about employee engagement, growth potential, expectations, metrics, challenges faced, and how long people historically stay in their position. Jordan, for example, could have clarified what his new role would entail by asking the CEO the following questions before accepting the offer:

  • How often do you meet individually with your senior managers?
  • How often does your senior team meet?
  • What would success in my role look like to you?

Watch out for cognitive biases

Confirmation bias is the tendency to favor information that confirms what we already believe, such as noticing and buying stories that align with our current opinions. As Mark Mortensen points out, there are several types of confirmation bias, such as giving more credence to information related to a recent memory, so it’s important to identify and counter these biases before making life-changing decisions. like a career change.

One of my coaching clients who fell victim to confirmation bias was Yuri, who accepted an offer to join an HR benefits startup after being wooed by its CEO. Yuri was asked to take over the finance function while the CFO was on leave. Yuri saw this as an opportunity to gain start-up experience and make a big change to help pay off his law school debt. Six months later, disillusioned and disappointed, Yuri leaves the company. The problem was that he convinced himself of the enormous financial potential of joining a startup, believing the company would be acquired or taken public so that his stock options would be worth multiples of their original value. Because he adhered to what Mortensen calls “confirmatory evidence,” Yuri overlooked a clear warning sign: replacing someone who was still working at the company. Yuri also failed to ask for details about his role definition and success criteria, and failed to negotiate accelerated vesting of his stock options.

Seek an outside perspective

How can you understand an organization’s true commitment to employee development and determine if it’s delivering on it, with a purpose bigger than its slogan? It’s hard to know if a company’s values ​​match yours without first talking to people who already work there. Before accepting an offer, make it a priority to network with employees who work for the company you’re interested in and get their perspective on what it’s really like inside.

Once you’ve made a tentative decision, discuss your decision-making criteria with people you know will challenge your assumptions, rather than relying on those who share your point of view. Look for people who have no vested interest in your ultimate choice and tell them they can help you the most by being completely honest.

With a little thought and planned action, career regret doesn’t have to be inevitable. Establish a roadmap for your decision-making with clear criteria related to your career goals, be aware of your assumptions and biases, and ask the right questions of the right people before accepting a new position. Acknowledging and discussing the realities of your role, responsibilities, and relationships early on can help you avoid a painful career misstep.

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