6 Steps potential job-changers must take before making the leap

ChoicesThe grass is always greener. Sometimes.

We’ve all been faced with the exciting-yet-intimidating opportunity of a new job. But making that move can feel like trading a known evil for an unknown one. It’s always difficult to leave a comfortable position, even when that position is unfulfilling. So job candidates—particularly attorneys—will to do their homework. As they should.

But you can’t nail everything down. Understand there is always an element of risk to making a job change.

The following tips will help alleviate nerves and maximize the likelihood of making the right decision.

1. Evaluate the pros and cons of your current job and identify what you want to accomplish in a job change. This may be abundantly self-evident, but if not, it’s important to identify the reason. There are so many moving parts to a job change that it’s easy to lose sight of what is motivating you.

2. Don’t lose sight of your primary motivation. Some people are motivated by money, others by title, others still by flexibility or a multitude of other possibilities. Take a moment—or two or three—to sit down and identify what your true motivators are.

If you are unhappy, identify the source (or sources) of your dissatisfaction. Common sources of unhappiness in a position include workload, lack of challenge, an incompetent, insecure, or just plain lousy boss, compensation, commute, or simply culture fit.

Find what motivates you—and what doesn’t—and regularly remind yourself, as you go through the job search and interview process, what those factors are. Assess your opportunities accordingly.

3. Essential to the pros/cons evaluation is assessing the value of what’s going well, and what you could lose in the trade-off. For example, relationships you have built over the course of your career and your reputation outside your department will take time and work to re-establish in a new job setting.

4. Don’t underestimate intangibles, such as good culture fit. That can be elusive to assess in an interview process, but often your “gut” feeling is the right one.

5. Do a reality check with friends. Be upfront with those you trust to keep it confidential. Are you looking for a change that’s realistic in this job market and economic climate with the supply of attorneys vastly outweighing the demand? Ask friends and trusted confidants, particularly those in the same profession to give you straight, impartial feedback. Tap into that pool of knowledge and experience.

6. Compare your situation to a job setting in which you were happy. What’s different? Resist the temptation to discuss your dissatisfaction with colleagues.

Job satisfaction is a formula with pros and cons. Don’t undervalue what’s going well, and recognize that, no matter what, any job change will mean a trade-off. It’s up to you to do your homework to discover if a move is right for you—and have the courage and confidence to make that decision, either way.

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