Teja Myneedu

Thoughts on scaling information security, innovation, careers and management

15 Sep 2020

How to think about Switching Employers

If you live in an area where there are plenty of job opportunities for your role, you are probably receiving a lot of recruiter emails in your inbox. It is hard not to think about a switching jobs every so often. There are several valid reasons to want to switch employers:

  1. You are not learning anything new in your role.
  2. You want to do something entirely different. (Eg: start your own business, work
  3. Your career advancement is stunted in your current company.
  4. You are not getting paid fairly for the work you do in comparison to the market.
  5. You don’t see your employer being a successful enterprise in the long run.
  6. Your work environment is bad. (Eg: bad manager, co-workers, wlb etc.)
  7. You have personal or family situations compelling a change in employer.

Some of these reasons are very personal, and only you can make the right decision for yourself. Reasons numbered five to seven above are very strong motivators to switch employers. Reason numbered four is right in the middle; one could make an argument to ask for a pay raise, but sometime that is not an option. However if you are looking to switch employers for reasons numbered one to three, and in some cases numbered four, I present a very simple decision making framework to guide you.

If you have a good manager, good team members, a decent work-life balance and are being paid fairly compared to the market, and are still thinking of switching careers because of reasons numbered one to three above, please don’t underestimate the value of these things. Start ups with a promise of a shot a piece of the multi-billion-dollar-valuation pie are sexy, but are full of risks. Please think about this important question before deciding to switch employers:

Is it under my sphere-of-control to maneuver myself to be in a position where I am doing impactful work that is satisfactory to me?

The answer usually is: YES, but it is not easy. The longer you have been in a company, the harder it is for you to maneuver yourself out of whatever responsibilities you have accumulated over a period of time, and start working towards something different. So if it is under your sphere of control to change things, but it’s not easy, what do you have to do, to get to where you want to be? The answer usually is a combination of:

(A) do better with the big picture thinking and doggedly pursue the most important stuff by automating or giving away work OR de-prioritizing less important things

(B) work with your manager to get their buy-in and support for doing (A)

(C) influence decision makers in your organization and convince them allow me do impactful work that I want to do

Switching employers is the easiest way out, but wherever you go there are going to factors that are outside your sphere of control. So, don’t quit before trying a combination of (A),(B) or (C) above. Pursuing these options means you are willing to commit more time to your current job. Therefore, it is important to ask a follow up question:

How long is it going to take for me, realistically to maneuver myself into a role that I want to be in? And get paid well?

Please don’t come up with a hypothetical answer to this question in your mind. Instead, have explicit conversations with your manager, and other decision makers within your organization about your plan and the timeline. Seek their opinion on their estimate of how long it would take for your plan to come to fruition if things progress as expected. If that is a reasonable time frame, you will know how long to wait until you are lured by a fat paper-money paycheck at a startup that may one day turn into real money.