Whenever a client comes to ask for help in making a transition to a new job I ask, “Are you sure you want to leave?” I usually get a quizzical look and a “Sure, it’s time to move on.”
My next question is, “Tell me, in detail, about your current situation and why you are thinking about leaving.” After listening carefully for signals, I ask, “How long have you felt the urge to move?” That question is critical to determine whether or not the thinking is a knee-jerk-reaction. Over time, I’ve discovered a number of reasons for this reaction. Among the more prevalent are:
- A single incident or incidents with the boss or colleagues has angered you
- There are minor and/or major changes in the company
- Your career path is blocked
- You have been thinking about this for some time and you’ve got a plan
If the client tells me that he or she has been thinking about this for a year or more, and there is a logical, well-defined thought process, then I am normally pretty comfortable. If it is in the six month range, then I’m going to have concerns that there hasn’t been enough “settling in” time, even if the logic is sound. If the client is in the “up to three month” time frame, then I’m concerned and do everything I can to ask that he or she gives the decision more time.
An important consideration in this thought process is whether the cause of the concern can be corrected. An incident with a boss, for example, may be more repairable than one’s career being blocked. If there is a chance for reconstructing the relationship, then we put a plan in place to overcome the concerns.
If there is no opportunity for correction, then I remind my client about the realities of a job search in the current economy. There are clearly reasons when leaving is the best option, but I want my client “to be sure.”