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How to choose the right next job, and say goodbye to the “Sunday Scaries”

I recently chatted with a senior candidate who was contemplating a job offer. They asked for advice – how to choose the right opportunity? Choosing the right next job is a big decision, and I’ve helped a lot of candidates make those transitions. I have the privilege of speaking to dozens of candidates a year and then often continue to build relationships with them throughout their career journey. I meet candidates who take jobs purely for a salary bump and others who accept because they are deeply connected to the mission and purpose. The ones that are most successful ask these three questions:

Can you picture yourself working effectively with your new boss and team?

The quality of the working relationship with your prospective boss and colleagues plays a significant role in job satisfaction and performance. A study conducted by Gallup (2015) showed that a positive relationship with one’s manager is a key determinant of employee engagement, which is linked to increased productivity and retention. When evaluating a job opportunity, consider if you are aligned with your potential boss in terms of values, communication style, and expectations

If you don’t feel that you’re going to be aligned with your direct boss, it’s best to move on without even considering other factors. Similarly, take a close look at the broader team you’ll be working with.

  • Are they going to make you better or worse at your job?

  • Do your skills complement each other or overlap?

  • And most importantly, do you like the team’s culture – those implicit beliefs and behaviors that shape the workplace? If not, forget it. Trust me on this one.

If you can’t answer these questions, consider asking for another interview. Your potential employer wants to hire a successful candidate who will stick around for a while, so it’s in their best interest to support this request.

Will this next job help you develop and keep you interested?

In the past, when I’ve considered job offers, I’ve always followed the 70/30 rule. It’s an arbitrary guideline, but it has served me well over the years. I believe that people are happiest when they’re at the edge of their competence – having 70% of the skill required for the job and a 30% stretch. This means you can execute many tasks but still need to learn and grow to succeed. I’ve always loved this kind of job because it keeps me engaged, interested, and constantly improving.

So as you consider your next job, think about what you bring to the role but also what you hope to learn. What skills will you develop and what competencies will you gain?

What’s the company’s growth trajectory?

I always advise people to look at the growth trajectory of an organization before they join and consider whether it’s growing or declining. In my experience, it’s always better to go with growing companies whenever possible as teams are typically happier and more engaged. There’s some research to back it up.

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workforce report, companies with an engaged workforce are 21% more profitable. While other studies show that companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147%.

Growth creates opportunities for advancement and provides fertile ground for personal development. Plus, growth-oriented companies are often (though not always) looking for ways to innovate and improve, which can be both exciting and challenging. Sure, it might feel like you’re on a hamster wheel at times, but man, is it stimulating!

So, there you have it – it’s my personal checklist for deciding whether to take a job or not and I believe it’s served many well. Remember, it’s all about alignment with your boss and team, personal development, and the company’s growth trajectory. Keeping these three criteria in mind has served me well throughout my career, and I hope it helps you make the right choice, too. After all, finding the perfect job is all about making sure you’re in the right place at the right time, surrounded by the right people, and always learning something new. Happy job hunting!



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