Deciding how to navigate your own career path is a scary prospect for many. On the one hand, you might have a job that you're used to and good at, but on the other hand, exploring new career opportunities can lead to more excitement and better pay. It's important to be savvy when it comes to switching jobs and making big career moves.
“Making smart career choices is important because it will propel your career," career expert at Monster, Vicki Salemi, tells Bustle. "Making moves, even a lateral move that better positions you for upward advancement, are incredibly wise." In fact, it can totally change your career trajectory.
You shouldn't be intimidated to move roles — whether that's moving laterally within your current company, moving to a similar job at a different company, or just totally mixing things up with a massive career change. Even though it can feel comfortable staying in your current role, with people and tasks that you're comfortable with, sometimes the payoff is so big that it's definitely worth the risk.
But how do you know it's the right time to change jobs? And what should you be looking for? Here's what you should know before you make the switch, according to experts.
1. A Big Change Isn't Always A Bad Thing
If you're looking for a job change, you might want to consider a full career change as well. "As long as you have a compelling reason to change your career, there are only pros," XCaliber Coaching & Consulting founder and career coach Alex Aberle, tells Bustle. "Your ability to make a bold move will feel liberating, and there is a chance that the feeling of freedom can inspire you to do even more in your professional and your personal life."
2. Workplace Environment Matters
Sometimes, it's not the job itself that makes you want to switch — it's the environment. If you're not being respected or you feel your workplace is unhealthy, that's a good enough reason to look for something new. But try to keep an eye out for what the environment is like when you interview with potential employers. You can even ask about work culture in your interview. "Look around and notice if people seem productive and happy," Gestalt Life Coach and psychotherapist, Nina Rubin, tells Bustle.
3. Know Your Worth
If you're going to looking for a new job, make sure that you know how much you should be paid — and don't be afraid to negotiate if you're offered less. “Being paid well below industry standards is one of the first clear markers of an employee being taken advantage of, and is one of the more demoralizing situations in a workplace,” Elizabeth M. Minei, Ph,D, career coach and founder and C.E.O. of EMinei Consulting, tells Bustle. If they're not going to pay you your worth, they're not the kind of place you want to be working at.
4. It Takes Time To Adapt
Though changing jobs is exciting, it's also totally common to feel out of your depth at first. "Instead of starting a wonderful new adventure, you can easily jump into the dark abyss," Aberle says. "It's important to consider that any career change will require new learning, and can manifest discomfort." Even if it's a rough transition, that doesn't mean you made the wrong choice. Sometimes, it just takes a bit of time to settle in and get used to a new routine.
5. Research Potential Benefits
While looking at your potential new salary may be a no-brainer, there are some other major considerations to keep in mind when thinking about a new opportunity. "Check if you have ancillary benefits like EAP [Employee Assistance Program] or comp time," Rubin says. Maybe you get free lunches or a gym discount — maybe one company you're looking at has a better retirement plan than the other. Try to get a sense of all of the pros and cons of the new role before you go any further.
6. Make Sure That It's Actual Progress
Before you make a big decision, consider what this new role will actually bring to your career as a whole. "If it’s a step toward your long-term goals or if it’s the same job you’re doing dressed up in a new suit," Rubin says is crucial to consider before you actually make a move.
7. Get To Know Your Potential Manager
While you may be focused on your nerves and trying to remember your best qualities in an interview, Rubin says it's important to make sure you check out your potential manager and their leadership style. You'll be spending a lot of time with this person, so try to make sure they seem like the right fit for you too.
Switching jobs can be a great opportunity, but it's not without its challenges. Make sure you have a clear idea of why you're switching roles and what you want in the long-term — then, see if this is the right step to get there.