One of life’s blessings is having a job that you like, and one of life’s miseries is having a job you hate. So it’s not surprising that even in times of high unemployment people think about changing jobs.
Countless books and articles have been written on the subject, dealing with aspects such as composing an appropriate resume, writing an eye-catching covering letter, how to dress, how to conduct yourself in an interview, and how to effectively research the organization to which you’re applying. These are all important considerations and most of the articles and books contain good advice.
But, if you’re thinking about changing jobs, there is one piece of advice that is more important than all the others put together, especially in today’s employment environment. It is this: don’t quit the job you have until you find another one.
Unless you’re independently wealthy, quitting your current job will cut deeply into your budget, your nest egg, or both. This could negatively affect your self-confidence and judgement to an extent that offsets the advantage of having more time for a job search and interviews. Also, people with jobs usually find it easier to get jobs than do people who aren’t employed; unfair perhaps, but nonetheless true.
People who are perfectly content with their jobs are sometimes offered an opportunity to make a move, such as through a call from a head-hunter or a tip from a friend. If the move will enhance your long-term future, that’s one thing. But if the so-called opportunity offers only an immediate increase in salary, you should remember that there is more to the economics of changing jobs than the salary. For example, what about fringe benefits? Sometimes a salary increase is more than offset by reduced benefits such as a less attractive pension plan, inferior group insurance coverage (for example, many employers don’t provide dental coverage), or loss of a company car.
There are other things to think about, such as will it cost you more to dress for the new job? Are you going to have to give up a club membership? Or a scholarship program for your kids? Are you going to have reduced vacation time? Then there’s the location to consider. Travel costs are pretty high these days and are probably going to keep increasing. If it’s going to cost you a lot more to travel (in money, time, or both) you need to take that into consideration.
But, these things cut both ways. Sometimes you may be better off with a slightly lower, or the same, salary because the fringe benefits and other considerations are a lot better in the new position. It can also be a mistake to make the decision strictly on economic considerations; always consider the effect on your family life balance.
A final thought. Throughout my career I’ve seen countless people, unhappy in their jobs, move to another organization with the only result being that they were unhappy in a different place. Before making a move, carefully determine whether the reason for your unhappiness is your job or your attitude. Changing your attitude can sometimes be more productive that changing jobs.