Four Key Elements to Changing Jobs

The process of changing jobs is complex, with many variables.  Among the most common of the important factors that should inform one’s thinking are job content and challenge, opportunity (or ramp – future potential), culture, location, benefits and of course, compensation.

A common sense approach to properly valuing each area when considering possible opportunities is to identify automatic dis-qualifiers. If timing is right to consider an opportunity, know what your absolute needs are.


Location is perhaps the easiest place to start. How far can you commute? Can you relocate? Does the opportunity qualify on this issue? (NOTE: five years ago I would not have started with location, as an extraordinary opportunity is almost always worth extended-commute time. However, unless there are special circumstances like regular work from home privileges or flextime, the quantity of vehicles is taxing the Philadelphia area road infrastructure to near capacity. A very long commute can quickly become untenable and ruin an otherwise exceptional position. If the car commute is much longer than an hour….and you can’t or won’t relocate regardless of how much you like the role…be careful!).


changing jobs

The second critical element is opportunity. What is the role and what kind of a conduit does it represent in the context of advancing your career in a direction you find most rewarding? If the position potentially offers real opportunity to enhance your skill set, to take on more responsibility, or, greatly upgrades the quality of organization, it should be given careful consideration. Standing still in one’s career for too long is ultimately an increasingly hazardous posture. If your current employer is not moving forward with technology or business model innovation and you are not moving forward within that company, you are at double jeopardy. Sooner or later, you will find yourself in the market, experiencing the competitive disadvantages your employer created with its’ lack of innovation and intelligent use of technology.


As important as the role and ramp of an opportunity is the culture which creates and nourishes it. Does the organization have operating principals which they articulate and adhere to? What is the work ethos (i.e., eight to faint, family benevolent, country club)?  Are they hip or just hype? Check this out during the interview. Will you be happy spending the balance of your waking hours with these people?


Lastly is compensation. Very simply, if the role is a good vehicle for your career in an acceptable location, working with great people, then money is a secondary factor. Within reason, a few thousand dollars either way will not make a bad opportunity good, or a good one not. Challenge, working with people you enjoy and the benefit of positive career trajectory is worth something. Candidly, a great deal of these are things that no amount of money can procure. Conversely, if you have these things now, there is no need to move, no matter how much money one is offered. Find the right opportunity wherever it is and find a way, within reason, to make the money go. In the end, the money will find you if you put yourself in a position to excel.