Before Jumping Ship, Consider This

Don't Jump Ship in Frustration

Dissatisfied with your job? Considering jumping ship? There’s no guarantee your next job will be any better. Many people who jump ship in frustration run into the same problems that were an obstacle with previous employers.

Consider working on a solution before trying to jump ship. Try to discuss your future with your boss.

  • Examine your motivations. Insist on realism. Do you have clear goals and priorities? Step back and assess what’s happening in your career journey. Don’t have unrealistic assumptions.
  • Start with a plan. What specifically are you seeking to make your job better? How can you get it? If you feel your career has become stagnant, realize that people who stay in one function or one industry may move up quickly in the beginning of their careers but often reach a ceiling later when they become too specialized.
  • Be brutally candid with yourself. Make sure you’re capable of handling the roles and responsibilities you’re seeking. Determine if they’re available.
  • Meet formally with your boss to discuss your plan. Take the initiative to lead the discussion; unlike at a performance review, here you drive the discussion.
  • During the meeting, ask your boss to evaluate your skills and your potential. Hear him out. Use active listening—repeat what he said to make sure you understand each other.
  • Give the boss your perspectives after hearing his. Don’t be confrontational. Try to cooperate. Think before you respond: reacting too quickly will set your boss on the defensive and guarantee an argument.
  • Once you’ve agreed upon a solution, do everything to progress it. Example: One woman wanted to be reassigned to her company’s trade sales unit. At her own initiative, she attended her industry’s trade shows, developed contacts, and learned what was necessary to succeed in sales and marketing.
  • Don’t expect quick action: changes take a little time. Perhaps you may be happier with a lateral move: many people think that careers should follow an upward trajectory. In fact, most jobs transitions don’t entail a promotion. Most successful careers involve a mix of lateral and upward movement.

Idea for Impact: Try to ask for honest feedback about what’s holding you back from a promotion. You’ll find it easier to tackle career frustrations in a familiar environment at your current employer rather than at a new company where you’ll be under pressure to learn the ropes and produce results quickly.

Job-Hunting While Still Employed [Two-Minute Mentor #10]

Job-Hunting While Still Employed Searching for a new job without revealing that you aren’t very pleased at your current job or getting fired can be a challenge. Here are four ways to job-hunt with caution.

  • Examine your motivations before job-hunting. Many people who jump ship in frustration run into the same problems that were an obstacle with previous employers. Try to ask for honest feedback about how you’re perceived by your managers and what’s holding you back from a promotion. You’ll find it easier to tackle career progression frustrations in a familiar environment at your current employer rather than at a new company where you’ll be under pressure to learn the ropes and produce results quickly.
  • Respect your employer’s time and resources. Don’t job-search on company time—your current job responsibilities are your priority. Looking for another position typically involves having to be away from your office for interviews; use your vacation days—not sick days—for job-searching and interviewing. Be careful about using your work computer to look up jobs, contact recruiters, or update your social-media presence.
  • Be tactful about whom you tell that you’re looking for another job. Even if you trust your coworkers, you can’t limit what they may share with others. Some of your coworkers may be ethically obligated to keep your boss and your company informed about any prospective changes in staffing or anything that might affect the organization’s goals. Be cautious about how you promote yourself on LinkedIn and job-search websites.
  • If you are offered a new job, be straight with everyone. Inform your boss immediately. Give as much notice as required, plan to tie up loose ends, and offer to help transition your responsibilities to a successor. Don’t be unreasonable in leveraging your new job offer to negotiate a counteroffer from your employer. Do your best to leave on the right note. Be consistent in what you tell different people about why you’re leaving. Do not burn bridges in the job-transition process.

What’s Behind Your Desire to Job-Hunt and Jump Ship

What's Behind Your Desire to Job-Hunt and Jump Ship

The primary motivations for seeking a new job are a more enjoyable job, better compensation, and opportunities for career progression. Talent management firm Caliper’s analysis of exit interviews from 180 companies confirmed that the principal reason employees quit their jobs is a lack of personal fulfillment and the feeling of not being well matched to their jobs. 40% of exit interviews complained about poor advancement potential, insufficient recognition, and not being challenged on the job. Just 26% mentioned wages and 11% mentioned workplace conflict.

Examine Your Motivations Before Job-Hunting

Many people who jump ship in frustration run into the same problems that were an obstacle with their previous employers. So, if you’re considering a change and seeking a new job because you’re not moving forward at your current job, first get honest feedback about how you’re perceived by your managers: what do they think your strengths are, where you need to develop, and what’s holding you back? Without such feedback on your career challenges, you may run into the same problems at your new employer.

You’ll find it easier to tackle career progression frustrations at your current employer in a familiar environment rather than at a new company where you’ll be under pressure to learn the ropes, form new relationships, produce results quickly, and work with superiors who may be less forgiving. Indeed, many people who change jobs fail or flame out at their new employers and don’t meet their job-change objectives after two years. Their premature departures and undue job-hopping reflects negatively on their career progress.

When You Must Seek a New Job

By all means, explore the job market in pursuit of career advancement if,

  • you’ve been passed over many times and haven’t been told how you need to develop to move ahead, or
  • you’ve been locked into your current job because of a long-tenured manager and can’t find another position within the same employer.

Be discreet about whom you tell that you’re looking for another job. When you find a new job, inform your boss immediately, give as much notice as required, and offer to help transition your duties to a replacement. Don’t use your new job offer to try to negotiate a counteroffer from your employer.

Job Interviewing #2: Interviewing with a Competitor of your Current Employer

Blog reader Ranganathan from Toronto, Canada asks, “I am interviewing with a competitor of my current employer. Most of my work at my current employer is confidential. How do I describe these projects in the upcoming interview?”

Ethics and Responsibilities

Interviewing with a Competitor of Current Employer: Ethics, Responsibilities Your employers, both current and former, expect you to treat sensitive and confidential information ethically. Accordingly, you must not disclose such information outside the company—in an interview, trade show or party at home.

During an interview with a competitor of your current or former employer, describe your past projects and accomplishments in terms of concepts and particulars that are public knowledge. If the interviewer presses for additional information, be diplomatic and decline to present confidential information. Interviewers will appreciate your reluctance.

Beware of a Trap: Test for Integrity

Interviewing with a Competitor of Current Employer: Test for Integrity Public trust and ethical behavior are vital to organizational and individual success. Recent corporate scandals have underscored the need for organizations to build and foster ethical business environments. Organizations are therefore inclined to select employees who share such moral values.

Good corporate ethics policies prohibit current employees from disclosing proprietary information from/about their former employers. In asking you for sensitive information, the interviewer is probably setting up a trap for you—the interviewer may be checking if you demonstrate a high degree of integrity and professional conduct.

Declining to provide proprietary information will demonstrate your consideration of the ethical consequences of your actions. Consequently, you will earn the respect of the interviewer.