If you are contemplating making a job change, time to ask yourself the hard question:  How much of your motivation is running TO a new opportunity, versus running FROM your present situation?

It’s the spring of 2017 and employment is beginning to really heat up. In the US we’ve come off several months where employers are adding staff in record numbers. It’s easy to get caught up in optimism.

If you’re among the 76% of the workforce who is either actively or passively looking to make a job change, I’ve got a key question for you: are you running to a new opportunity, or are you running from your current situation? This is the question you’ve got to answer first, before you jump into the hunt.

The Downside: Running From

If your primary motivation is to leave a particular job, then almost everything out there will look good to you. You’ll be in such a hurry to leave that – almost guaranteed – you’ll overlook some significant aspect about that new job that will turn sour once you are there for a little while. And then you’ll start thinking about running from that job.

Have you taken the time to determine specifically (and unemotionally) what it is that is frustrating you in your current role? Begin by building a very clear list, identifying as precisely as you can, what it is that causes you to dislike what you do. In the process of building the list, identify the entries that you can control, the ones you can influence, and the ones you can neither control nor influence.

You may find there are actions you can take to alleviate frustration by addressing some of the concerns directly. At the very least, you’ll have a clearer idea of areas to investigate in any new opportunity, to ensure that it will not be present there.

The Upside: Running To

Begin by developing a list of perhaps a dozen to twenty clear, measurable criteria about the new job opportunity, such as compensation, culture, commute, benefits, your potential boss, and the like. Once you have thoroughly investigated the new opportunity, you are ready to objectively compare it point-by-point to your current situation. What specifically will you be giving up (such as having a track record of a certain period of time) to take the new opportunity? What will you gain by moving?

Only when you see that the new opportunity offers clear advantages, should you consider making the change. If the comparison is roughly equal, then tough it out and continue looking, while figuring out what you can do differently to make your current situation more enjoyable for you, and more productive for your employer.

You know it is the right move when the new opportunity is one that is measurably better than your current situation, where you can easily envision yourself being passionate about being there five years from now, and when your “running to” side of your brain tells you it is time to move.

One final piece of advice: always leave well. You never know when you will need the future support of your former employer and supervisors.

Hank Boyer is CEO of Boyer Management Group, works with employers and job seekers alike to help them become more successful. See his two newest books on job search at Amazon.com.

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