Let headhunter Kevin Rosenberg help you set your career compass. Kevin is managing director and partner of BridgeGate LLC, a California-based search firm. He specializes in IT management searches and shares career tips in his monthly Q & A column.
Q: I recently took a position with a company that sold itself in the interview. Now I'm finding that there was rotten wood behind the veneer I was shown. I'm very disappointed with the choice I made, and I'm inclined to look elsewhere. I've been here about a month and a half, and I'm looking for a little advice.
Rosenberg: Thank you for bringing up an all-too-common dilemma that perhaps every working person has encountered in their lifetime.
Often in my practice I encounter very senior level IT professionals who, like you, regret having joined their current employer because they were sold a bill of goods or they foolishly forgot to kick the tires before accepting the new job.
When this happens, the worst thing you can do is remain in a hopeless situation. Move on. I offer one caveat, however. You have a finite number of “get-out-of-jail-free” cards that you can play before this type of quick move becomes a negative factor. If you have a 15-year track record and have held fewer than three jobs, one bad move won’t wreck your career. Frequent false starts, however, could be a red flag for future employers.
Some job candidates I have coached have candidly said that they would simply omit the job and “blur” the dates on their résumé. This is a practice that I discourage. I have seen great job candidates eliminated when their résumé was questioned. In today’s age of information at the speed of light, background checks are not only becoming more common, they are also becoming more accurate.
Change jobs as often as you like, but do so at your own risk. In your case, given the very short duration, you can easily and honestly dismiss the change as a mistake.
Q: This week I am expecting to receive two written offers from two different companies for a new job. The problem is that both jobs are GREAT but they are very different and I am qualified for both. One is a product manager for a large company, and the other is an IT manager for a division of a large corporate behemoth.
I have done the traditional [task of] drawing a line down two pieces of paper and doing the pros and cons thing, but they are equal (except for the weather, one is north and one is south). I like both opportunities and they both will give me great chances for advancement and personal growth, but it is like comparing apples and oranges. Can you give me any wisdom on how to make this very good, but difficult, decision?
Rosenberg: You are right, not a bad situation to be in. This is just another fringe benefit of the robust economy. Although the enthusiasm is slowing, I hope the prosperity will continue.
Your question is one that, in good times, is typically decided by the highest bidder. You are interested, however, in making an informed, rational decision. You are faced with what you deem to be two good positions, albeit different with their own equally compelling strengths.
This situation often causes a job seeker undue concern and even many sleepless nights. This need not be the case. Your career is a series of calculated steps that result in a desirable outcome. This endgame, so to speak, should be one that is not only gratifying intellectually and economically but also offers you security and comfort.
In your situation, you need to look ahead five, seven, even 10 years. Compare and contrast the impact each position will have on your future:
- Will taking Job A over Job B provide you with greater long-term income potential?
- Is Job B too far removed from your core strengths? By taking Job B, will you become unmarketable in your former field but not experienced enough to prosper in the event of a downsizing or layoff?
As you can imagine, there are thousands of questions that you can use to determine the risks and rewards of Job A versus Job B. But the most important thing to ask yourself is this: “Where do I want to be in five, seven, and 10 years, and which job will be best tailored to get me there?”
Are your coworkers getting on your nerves? Is your boss a roadblock to advancement? Send Kevin your career questions or post a comment to this article. We can't guarantee that he'll answer your letter, but he does read each question and addresses the most common concerns in this column.