Five Ways to Screw Up a Job Change

Since people are beginning to make a job changes, have started looking for a different position, or are giving serious thought to moving to another company, now’s the time to call your attention to a superb HBR article on “bungling” a job change.

The article, written by Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams, reminds us that the average baby boomer will switch jobs 10 times according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Gen-Y, 12 to 15 times, or more). It also calls attention to the fact that the worker as free agent will be a reality regardless of economic conditions–all of which means it’s incumbent upon us to take greater control of our own careers.  And since there are times when most of us have to accept a less-than-perfect fit for financial reasons, it’s very important to remember that a job is never just a job.  It’s your career.

Here is a quick summary of the five ways to bungle a job change:

Mistake 1.  Not doing enough research.  Included in that subject are failure to do homework on the job-market realities (don’t be unrealistic), pay attention to the firm’s stability and market poisiton, consider the cultural fit and don’t assume that the job description actually fits the role.

Mistake 2.  Leaving for money.  Far too many think the opportunity for advancement and more money are the real issue.  As a result, they ignore the important core information surrounding the job.  You might want to check out my article on money as motivator.

Mistake 3.  Going “from” rather than “to.”  When you’re really unhappy, you’ll just want out.  That can result in an even worse situation unless you do your homework before you accept that new position.

Mistake 4.  Overestimating yourself.  You’re not God’s gift to the universe, however competent you may be.  As a general rule most of us overestimate our contributions and our worth, ignoring the organization’s contributions and processes.  Get real.

Mistake 5.  Thinking short term.  Thinking short term feeds into all the other four mistakes.  If, for example all you want is “out,” you’re liable to ignore your career needs, fail to do due diligence on the new job, and . . .   You get the picture.

FYI: For my money, Boris Groysberg is one of the best business researchers in org behavior.  Watch for his articles in the Harvard Business Review.  And if you occasionally read relevant business research, you can’t beat his stuff.  You can get the list of his research here:   Groysberg


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