How can you tell when the time is right to switch jobs, and what should you think about before you do? There’s money, of course, and location. But what about company culture, or your career trajectory? With so many factors to consider, figuring out whether you should stay or go can feel overwhelming. Here are 11 questions you should ask yourself both before and after you’ve got an offer on the table.
1. WHICH JOB HAS MORE ROOM FOR ADVANCEMENT?
Is there still room for advancement at your old job, or does the new job you’re considering have better opportunities for the future? Depending on factors like company size and turnover, different companies have different kinds of growth opportunities. If your new job opportunity seems like a step up now, but has fewer opportunities for advancement in the long run, you might not want to switch just yet.
2. WHY DO I WANT TO CHANGE JOBS?
If you’re dissatisfied with your current job, ask yourself if your new job opportunity is one you’re actually interested in—or if you’re just looking for a quick fix. Conversely, if you find that you’re reluctant to leave your current job even though you don’t enjoy it, ask yourself if fear or inertia might be driving your reasoning.
3. WHAT DO I WANT OUT OF MY JOB?
Take a moment to review your priorities: Is salary the most important to you at this point in your career? Or would you trade a high salary for a good corporate culture or engaging responsibilities? Consider your values before you jump ship. If you have specific opportunities in mind, it’s not a bad idea to make a list of pros and cons. If a new position has lots going for it, but doesn’t have the one thing that’s most important to you, then it might not be the right fit.
4. WHAT IS THE WORK ENVIRONMENT LIKE?
Your new position might sound great on paper, but if the work environment doesn’t feel right, chances are you won’t be happy there. When you go in for an interview or tour, take stock of two things: First, do people at the office seem happy or do they appear stressed or overworked? Second, do the employees seem like people you’d get along with? If you’re a jeans-and-t-shirts kind of person in a company of shined shoes and expensive suits (or vice versa), that might not be a deal breaker, but it is something you should weigh.
5. WHAT IS THE WORK/LIFE BALANCE LIKE?
Again, finding a job that aligns with both your career goals and lifestyle is essential. If you’re close to receiving an offer, it’s perfectly appropriate to ask questions about company culture, including how long a typical work day lasts. Of course, what you’re really digging for is your prospective employer’s expectations. For example, will you ever be on call over holidays or on the weekend? Are you expected to return emails and calls after hours?
6. HOW WILL SWITCHING JOBS AFFECT MY PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS?
If you haven’t been at your current job for long, or are thinking about switching jobs abruptly, consider what bridges you might be burning by making a change at this juncture.
7. HOW LONG IS THE COMMUTE?
It might not seem that important, but studies have shown that long commutes (more than a half hour each way) can cause weight gain, increase stress, and affect your moods. Find out how long your commute will be—and make sure to consider any variables, like train schedules or rush hour traffic, that might come into play.
8. WHAT IS THE LOCATION LIKE?
This is a crucial question to ask if you’re considering relocating to a different city for your new job. Do lots of research on your potential new home base, and at the very least, find out the basics, including cost of living, recreational activities, and general culture.
9. WILL I BE PAID ENOUGH?
Of course you should think about how the new salary you’re being offered compares to what you currently make. But it’s also a good idea to take stock of your salary expectations without reference to your current job. If you’re unsure what someone at your professional level should be paid, do a little research and find out how much people in your field, and at your level, are generally paid.
10. WHAT KINDS OF BENEFITS ARE THERE?
When you’re considering job opportunities, picking the job with the highest salary might seem like an obvious choice. But it’s important to consider the total package: What do the health insurance and retirement plans look like? Are there other job benefits, like flexible schedules, maternity leave, vacation days, or continuing education? It’s important to weigh everything offered in a compensation package—not just the number on your paycheck—in order to figure out which will serve you best.
11. WHAT CHALLENGES WILL I FACE?
You want to be certain that any new role you take on will keep you on your toes. But think about what kinds of challenges you’ll face: Will they force you out of your comfort zone and help you (and your career) grow? Or will they simply eat up your time and feel like busy work? Again, it pays to ask the right questions, both during the interview process and after you’ve received an offer.