By Dylan Alford, Brazen Careerist
Tribune Media Services
May 19, 2012
With the economy starting to turn a corner, and hiring in some industries and regions picking up, you might be contemplating making the jump to a new job. But any career move comes with risks you need to be aware of before you make a change.
Here are some common mistakes young professionals make when switching jobs -- and how you can avoid them:
1. Chasing the money. Sure, money's an important factor, but it's not the only factor.
A friend of mine in Portland, Ore., a marketing manager, jumped at a new job opportunity a few years ago because it gave him a raise of more than 50 percent.
"The money was great -- while it lasted," he said. But a year and a half later, the company he moved to was acquired, and he found himself out of a job. "In retrospect, I should have seen it coming," he said. "They were setting themselves up to be acquired. But I was blinded by the dollar signs."
If he had it to do over again, he would have spent more time asking questions about the company's plans for future growth and where they were headed.
2. Buying too quickly into a brand. There's nothing wrong with wanting to work for a big brand name. Just make sure you do your homework and move for the right reasons.
Some people seek out work with well-known brands because they think it will look great on their resumes. But once they start working there, they sometimes discover the public image of the company doesn't translate into a quality employee experience.
It's a good practice to talk with people who work at any company you're thinking about going to work for, even if it's a big name. You need to think about whether the company culture is a good fit for you, not just whether you'd like to have a big brand name on your resume.
3. Moving up just to move up. Twice in my career, I've made the mistake of going after a promotion just because it was a step up. I didn't really think through how those moves fit with my career goals, and in both cases, I was miserable in the role.
What those experiences taught me is that, without having a clear vision for your life and career, you won't have much to guide you in those decisions.
Get clear on what you want your life and work to look like first. Then start looking for the next thing in your career. And have the strength to pass on anything that doesn't fit your vision.
4. Burning bridges. If you've toiled away through the recession at a job you don't like, it might be tempting to quit in dramatic fashion. To tell off your domineering boss. To let all the people you didn't get along with know what you really think of them.
Despite what movies and TV may have led you to believe, this will not make you seem heroic to your (now former) colleagues. In most cases, it will just make everyone feel awkward, including you.
Early in my career, I watched as one co-worker, who had just been hired by a competitor, told off our boss and then stormed out of the office. About a year later, he changed jobs again. This time, he was working for a supplier who wanted our business. He had to tell his new boss about what happened and ask to be taken off the account team.
Needless to say, that revelation didn't score him any points with his new employer. You never know who you'll have to work with down the line, which is why you never want to burn any bridges.
The key to all of these tips is being strategic. Before you hop to a new job, get clear on what you want in your life and your career. Then, if you pursue an opportunity that looks like a fit, do your homework on the company to make sure it's headed in the right direction and that the culture is a good fit for you. And if you do end up taking a new job, please, for everyone's sake, give your two weeks notice and leave in good standing.
(Dylan Alford is a contributor to Brazen Careerist. He is the publisher of recentgradsonly.com. Brazen Careerist is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. This isn't your parents' career-advice column. Be Brazen.)
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