10 Career-Busting Moves

Looking for a new job is like buying a new car: You start out excited and full of energy, and then you’re overwhelmed by the process, which gives you a headache. Ultimately, you end up with a long-term commitment and some degree of “buyer’s remorse.”

Here are 10 factors to consider before you make the plunge to “greener pastures.”

1. Compensation
We’re in the money!
The most exciting part of a new job is knowing you’ll be earning more money. New car, new house, new toys! But just hold on. Consider the net take-home dollars and the local taxes, which could have a larger impact than your spouse’s increased spending plans! Don’t leave your current employer just for the money. You’ll have it spent before you get it anyway. Remember the last big bump you got? How far did that go? While compensation is a huge factor, don’t let it blind you into a bad move. Keep your perspective and be realistic. Assuming you are currently underpaid, don’t expect a 25 percent bump even if you deserve it. Companies don’t think that way and will think themselves generous in this economy offering you a 10 to 15 percent increase. If you get more than that, you are doing fine!

2. Job Title
VP of finance, director of supply chain, master of the universe. Oh, yeah! There’s nothing like getting more power and authority! This is one part of your negotiations that won’t cost your employer more money, but could mean a lot to you. But with authority and power comes responsibility, so expect to be working a few more hours — at least for the first few months to impress the boss!

3. Dead-End Job/Career Advancement
Story of your life! You got your JD, MBA customs brokers license and various certifications. You put your time in and moved up the ranks. But now where are you? Not much further than when you started. Does it mean you’re in a dead-end job and should look elsewhere? Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes it takes a move to get the recognition — read money — for your efforts. Other times, like in this economy maybe, it could be smarter to stay put. As Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.”

4. Boss
So last night’s wishful thinking didn’t work. The boss came in right on time and demonstrated the same lovely demeanor. It’s another day in paradise … NOT! No one should have to endure a bad boss. There will always be bosses like yours lurking in the business world, so if you switch companies for this reason alone, make sure you interview your potential new boss. What kind of loyal following or turnover does he have? Find out his personality traits, either by asking him directly or asking your potential co-workers and his other direct reports. (Warning: Don’t expect completely honest answers.)

5. Hours/Flexibility
Don’t count on it! Your day is hectic enough — whether it’s the kids, the parents or the cat’s mess. What about flex time? That and working from home a day or so a week are tricky to negotiate. Bring it up too early in the process and you are toast. Sniff around before receiving an offer, but don’t push it even if the company seems receptive. Use your instincts. The best time to work this out is after an offer is on the table but before you accept it. Remember, once you accept, you have no more leverage. And, if you’re rejected, no one will tell you why, so you’ll never know. You’ll still be at home — not working.

6. Relocation
Where am I? If you’re relocating, there are important things to consider other than the cost of living. Is the new location too close to the in-laws? How is the local football team doing? Are there fast food restaurants nearby? More important, is the climate acceptable? How are the schools? The immediate neighborhood? How is the commute? Will your kids stop speaking to you? This definitely needs family time discussions before you accept the new position. Don’t forget about any relocation assistance package. Sometimes these are negotiable. If none exists, it could be disguised as a sign-on bonus. Keep in mind you’ll be paying it back if you ignore these Top 10 career-busting moves and leave right away!

7. Benefits
What’s in it for me? Don’t just look at offerings such as base salary, bonus potential, health insurance and long-term disability; also look at their total costs. For health insurance, don’t just consider the monthly premium. Consider the out-of-pocket expenses for office visits, prescriptions, etc., too. With this higher stress position you may need to use it! A smaller raise could include cheaper insurance or vice-versa. Is working from home an option? What’s the vacation time and is it negotiable? What about personal days, the 401(k) and retirement plan? Do other fringe benefits such as employee discounts exist? You need to re-evaluate your “total” package. Again, find this out ahead of time!

8. Company Prestige
What’s in a name? Will a “big name” make you a better person? Yes — your friends and family will be impressed. Will it bring you more pride? Will it make you work harder? Only you can make that determination, but don’t count out the little guys.

9. Fun Factor
What did you expect? Are you bored in your current position? Why? Will the next company offer free scuba classes? Will it provide donuts every day? Did it really say on your job application “this will be fun”? Truth be told, YOU are the one who needs to make it interesting, so if you’re looking to change companies because you are bored, you’d better think again before you jump ship. Have you asked your boss for additional responsibilities, projects or offered help to a co-worker? Showing you can handle more responsibility is not a bad thing and may actually get you noticed and fill your day.

10. Counteroffers
Congratulations! You got a counteroffer and managed to get a big raise without the stress of starting a new job. Or should we offer our condolences? If you resigned and are thinking of accepting a counteroffer, beware. The odds are against you sticking around anyway and it could hurt your long-term career advancement at your employer even if you do. You were looking for a reason to move. Even if you didn’t make the first move, you must have had some reason to consider that other job. You will probably be back on the market again soon. You damaged your commitment to your employer — you are no longer likely to be regarded as a “company man.” You sent a message when you announced you were leaving. They need you for now, but how will they feel about you later?

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