Just over 15 years ago, I started my career as an intern at a leading infrastructure engineering company. I stayed with that company for 15 years until I decided to make a recent career change.
I think I caught plenty of people off guard when I gave my notice I was leaving the firm I spent my entire career at. I had successfully grown up the ladder and was actively working towards the next rung. Until a recruiter reached out to me.
Now, this isn't the first time a recruiter had reached out. It happens from time to time, but the potential new position certainly had characteristics of a role I would like to have. Namely, it would allow me to spend more of my time leading marketing and communications initiatives with an equally promising career path.
People leave companies for many reasons. Some because of their bosses, some for more money, some for a title and career growth, etc. As you go through the interview process, you're often weighing "will I be happier and more fulfilled if I take this new job?" That certainly went through my head many times. But it wasn't the single most important question I had. Mainly, because I was happy in my prior role, liked my boss, liked the people I worked with, had accomplished a lot and saw career growth potential. In fact, it could have been a greater risk to my happiness to change jobs.
So why change?
Once I got through the interview process and was offered the new job, it was decision time. I went through a lot of questions with myself and my family, but the one question that stood out and helped guide me to accepting the new job was this:
Will this new job enable my family to have a better quality of life?
While it is my career, it's my family who is impacted by it. In my prior role (pre-COVID) I was commuting 45 minutes back-and-forth to work in Milwaukee. My wife has been commuting 1 hour and 15 minutes back-and-forth to Madison a few days per week. While COVID certainly will impact how companies implement remote work policies, the career path I was on certainly put an emphasis on being in-person. Having me and my wife work in two cities about 1.5 hours apart is one example of how my current job wasn't helping create the quality of life we'd like to achieve.
There are certainly more reasons beyond just a commute that led me to say yes to a new job, including the excitement of a new challenge. But several of those reasons may have also been accomplished where I was at. In some ways, I feel I could have been happy with either staying where I was or a new role. I had to take a broader look beyond just me and my career to determine what was best for our family.
I think of this question and variations of it to remind myself that the world doesn't revolve around me. We have to consider how decisions impact others. And while there are times to perhaps be a bit selfish, thinking through the impacts to others can often be a deciding factor in the direction taken - for yourself or for the good of a group.
P.S. - As it turns out, I'm quite happy and fulfilled in the new job. So far, the risk is paying off!