With Gen Y employees making multiple job changes of the course of a lifetime, what are the critical questions that they should be asking before leaving a job or an organization for something new? The following post was written by Lauren Beam, M.S., N.C.C., Associate Director of Mentoring and Alumni Personal & Career Development at Wake Forest University.
Members of Generation Y, the Millennial Generation, can expect to have as many as ten or more job changes by the time they are forty years old. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that at least one out of every four millennials expresses a desire to move to a new company or to try something different by the end of this year, according to The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016. While making regular career moves will be a normal practice for many in Gen Y, making a job or company change may not always be the best decision or even necessary. Before you pursue that new opportunity, here are a few questions to start asking yourself and tips for managing your own career development.
- What is my motivation for wanting to leave and how does that align with my career goals? The best piece of advice that I ever received from a career mentor was not to search for or take a new job primarily out of desperation and/or unhappiness. Take a step back and think intentionally about the bigger picture of your career path: determine what skills you still need or want to develop, the type of work that energizes you, and your long-term career goals and how those fit in with the job role and organization in which you work. While being unhappy in your current job is a valid feeling, think more broadly about what you are hoping to accomplish through a job (or career) change. Write out your short and long-term career goals and specific action steps you plan to take to achieve them. Share your thoughts with a mentor and ask for his or her feedback on your goals and next steps.
- What skills do I still need to build upon my current role? And have I learned everything I can possibly learn within my current position? Assess whether or not there is still more for you to learn in your current role. Make a list of all that you have accomplished (updating and reviewing your resume is a great way to do this). Next, make a list of what skills and experiences you are hoping to obtain going forward. If your current job or company does not provide opportunities to gain those skills and experiences, it is probably time to move on. If you would like to completely change career paths and move into a new industry, you will need to determine if your current education, skill set, and professional experience qualifies you to pursue this new line of work. Look for any gaps in your educational and professional experience that may need to be filled in order to be a strong candidate for a new position. Additionally, you will want to research the industry, job function, and types of companies in which you are interested and learn as much as possible. Networking will be essential for exploring a new career path and building connections with colleagues in the field.
- Does my current company, manager, or team provide opportunities for professional growth and promotions? Is there a career path for me within this organization? This will often require partnering with your manager, mentor, or perhaps a Human Resources representative to determine your career path within the company. If your manager is aware of the professional path you would like to take, he or she may be willing to help you develop your skill set and expertise that results in a promotion. A mentor can help you set goals for professional growth as you work towards obtaining a new role within your company. Additionally, a conversation with one of your company’s HR recruiters or representatives can provide you with information on potential new job openings within the company or outline a career path for your particular area of work.
- Do I need a graduate or professional school degree to get to the next level in my profession, or to change careers? Through research and talking to the right people (your manager, a mentor, HR, networking contacts), determine if you need a higher degree or additional educational credentials to pursue the type of work or next job role in which you are interested. If another degree is needed, you will need to research potential graduate school programs and the application process, including any entrance testing requirements. Make a timeline for yourself that includes testing, applications, acceptance, and possible move dates. Think about: What benefits will this additional education provide for me? What are the potential costs (money, time)?
No matter your stage of life or professional experience, job and career changes should not be taken lightly. Take the time to do your homework, seek out additional opinions and advice, and create the career plan that works best for you and your career path.