Is It Time for a Job Change? Part 114 Jul, 2021 By: Robert Green
CAD Manager's Column: Before you change jobs, review this career change checklist to make sure you make the right decision.
In the past few decades, we’ve seen good times and bad for CAD managers, but right now may be one of the best times ever if you are thinking about a career change. With business changing rapidly due to the COVID19 shutdowns, high demand in construction and manufacturing industries, and a general labor shortage, you may never encounter a better time to make a career change. I’ve noticed a trend of questions from readers about this very situation.
In this issue of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I’ll start a two-part series on career change beginning with a self-assessment to help you understand your motivation for change and whether it is something you should undertake. Here goes.
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Is it Time to Move On?
If you think it is time to make a move, then you should know why, right? Is it due to dysfunctional management? Low pay? Lack of challenge?
Understanding your inner motivation to move on is crucial to making the right move, so let’s take some time to understand your motivation.
Homework Item 1. Write down all the reasons you think it is time to move on and find a new job.
Now that you’ve inventoried the reasons for making a move, consider the practicality of each reason. In some cases — such as wanting higher pay — the motivation for change is motivated by a financial goal that is easy to understand. Other cases may be more developmental in nature — such as bettering your management skill set or moving into a new technology field — these motivations are concrete changes to your career that need to be pursued in another company that has need for them. But, in other cases — such as disagreements with co-workers, burnout, or just being sick of what you’re doing — your motivation may be more emotionally based and less about your professional development. Let’s dig into those reasons for more clarity.
Homework Item 2. For each reason you wrote down, decide if the reason is professional, developmental, or emotional. If your list tends toward professional and developmental, then a change may well be in order. If your list is more about emotional issues, then you must ask yourself if a new employer will really solve these problems.
How did your homework go? Were your reasons to make a career change born from financial or development reasons or were your reasons more emotional? Next, dig deeper into those reasons.
Homework Item 3. Be honest with yourself and determine if your desire for change is really career focused or are you just tired of your current environment? If the change is more emotionally motivated, have you really done all you can to make your current environment better?
Dos and Don’ts to Follow When Considering a Job Change
Hopefully, you now know your true motivation for making a career change. And, if you think making a move is in your future, then it’s time to intelligently plan your process. Follow these lists of Dos and Don’ts so you won’t make a career mistake (more on these items a bit later):
- Don’t quit your job on a whim.
- Don’t issue threats about quitting your job.
- Don’t share your idea of quitting with anyone.
- Do understand why you want to make a change.
- Do analyze your company’s financial situation.
- Do create an honest analysis of your current skills/marketability.
- Do address concerns with your manager but don’t threaten to quit.
- Do create a plan for how you’ll exit.
Remember, making a career change is a major decision and should not be made in haste. Following these dos and don’ts will give you time to fully consider your options — including the option of staying put.
Don’t Overreact — Educate Yourself
If you look at the items on the Don’ts list, please note that all of them advise a “don’t burn any bridges” cautious, private approach. You don’t want a period of intense pressure or personal friction to make you speak impulsively. We’ve all experienced times where quitting at that moment seemed like a good idea only to find that a few weeks later we still liked our job. The reality is that once you’ve threatened to quit, it is impossible to take it back, so it’s best to simply not do so unless you’re absolutely sure.
Conversely, the items on the Dos list are more homework assignments to help you decide if a career change makes sense and, if you do decide to make the change, how to start searching for something new. You may know that you’re frustrated with your current job but what’s the plan for landing a job elsewhere? You don’t know until you’ve done your homework.
Now let’s start doing the homework required to make a decision.
Understand Your Motivation
Why am I considering a career change? This is a question that only you know the answer to but here are some questions and advice you can use to consider your own situation.
Are you suffering from lack of authority or management disinterest? If so, these problems could be impeding your career progress and will likely require a promotion, reassignment, or career change to fix.
Is the company OK financially? We’ll look at this in more detail in the Analyzing the Company section but a company that is struggling financially is a place you may want to move away from.
Are you no longer learning or advancing? Sometimes working at a company can be financially rewarding and the people can be your friends but if you’re not building skills and advancing your career it could be time to move on.
Homework Item 4. Consider these questions closely and write down the reasons why you making the change is a good idea. Your goal here is to convince yourself that making the change will give you real career opportunities to build new skills and advance your management career. This exercise allows you to be analytical about making a career change rather than reacting based on fear or emotion.
Most CAD managers don’t sit in on executive meetings and we usually don’t have access to company financials, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do a cursory analysis of our company’s condition. Here are a few diagnostic questions that I’ve found very reliable over the years along with how to interpret your responses.
Do you work for a non-evolving company? Is your company married to old methods and tools? Has your company stopped trying to innovate? Is your company staying the same size or shrinking while other similar companies are growing? Is your company developing new products and services or simply limping along? Is your company having trouble getting new projects even in this super-hot period of growth?
Do you work for a “just get it done” company? Are key leaders in the company willing to take shortcuts and look past quality problems in the interest of getting substandard work out the door?
Are there financial problems? Does management seem tense all of a sudden? Does it seem like work volume has dropped? Has communication from senior management gone silent? These are strong signs of internal problems that could mean less opportunity for you to advance in the future.
Is the company for sale? Have there been lots of closed door meetings with strangers? Have there been directives to clean offices and public spaces so tours of the building can be conducted? These are all classic signs that the company is being positioned for sale and that sale could mean big uncertainty for all employees.
The more you found yourself answering “Yes” to these questions, the worse the company situation is. As an example: If you answer “Yes” to all these questions you’re working in a company that isn’t advancing, is cutting corners on quality, is losing market share and is having financial problems that may even lead to an outright sale — all of which should make you want to leave immediately!
On the other hand, the more you answered “No” to these questions, the more stable the company is and the more confidence you should have staying there — even if you experience job frustrations from time to time (don’t we all at times?).
Homework Item 5. Think through all of these scenarios and see how often you said yes to the above questions. Sometimes you must make career decisions based on the health of the company you work for, no matter what other circumstances might suggest.
At this point you should be able to decide if a career change is in your best interest at this time. If the answer is yes, then you’ll need to start the preparation for finding a new job and get a plan in place to make it happen. If the answer is “No,” then you need to understand why you’re experiencing career frustration and create a plan for making things better. Either way, your career can only benefit.
In the next installment of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I’ll present strategies for analyzing your own strengths and weaknesses so you can take corrective action that will help your career no matter where you work. Until next time.
Follow along with Robert Green and read Is It Time for a Job Change? Part 2. Find out how to get ready for your job search by taking a variety of steps to make you a better, more marketable CAD manager and steps that will also pay off nicely for you — even if you don't change jobs!
About the Author: Robert Green
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