Today we focus on the prickly question of how you should change jobs — what to say to your current employer and when you should say it.
This is a question that comes up frequently when I am advising clients on career matters and in the courses I teach on interviewing. The most common reason I am asked this question centers on how the current employer will respond, and for good reason. There are far too many bosses who can be extremely vindictive to employees who become job seekers. They view it as a loyalty issue — by accepting another position, even for a nice promotion with much better salary and benefits, you have betrayed them. These “Its all about me” bosses can react inappropriately, sometimes even illegally, so looking for another job can be a dicey proposition.
Given that a growing number of management and young executives — Millennials — are changing jobs three times faster than other age cohorts in the workforce, this topic is very relevant.
We have all had a failure or two in life — those that were serious and many that, in hindsight seem less so — we botched a test, we were turned down by the person of our dreams for a date to the high school prom, or we did not get what thought would be THE ideal job.
Novelists, poets and those who write for a living have an intimate relationship with rejection or failure as have entrepreneurs.
Failing to snag that IDEAL job is one thing, but risking and losing your life’s savings or, worse, your parent’s life savings in a failed business that you so strongly believed in is quite something else. It is a gut-wrenching, confidence killing experience that some people never get over.
Now here is the thing, we view starting our own business, being an entrepreneur, in the most romantic and exciting terms. Rarely does the idea, the realistic possibility of failure, cloud our thinking. We hold on to the stories of those famous entrepreneurs who started a company in a small garage somewhere only to hit it big and reap the enormous financial rewards of taking the gamble.
The money, the fame are powerful distorters of the reality that most entrepreneurs fail.
For those of us who have experienced that kind of failure — thankfully mine did not involve my parents retirement plan — but when my partnership deteriorated over misaligned values and goals — it was emotionally devastating. I had to walk away from a company I had founded after 16 years. I never thought I would be starting over when I was 60 years old. But it happened. I was one phone call away from losing a great deal more than just money. Fortunately one of my God installed signature strengths is that of resilience. I persevered and survived. I have tried not to look back except for those important and strangely wonderful lessons that I learned from the experience.
The most important lesson I learned, and those who have shared a similar experiences, all say the same thing: If you cannot take the pain, the sense of loss and get back up and go again, then perhaps entrepreneurship, and this includes buying a franchised business, is not the best strategy for your career.
In America, we value certain human qualities — honesty, determination, fairness which is to say playing by the rules, and resilience. But none more than redemption. We are drawn to those stories about people who have failed terribly only to rise again and achieve great success.
Leaders who cannot communicate are toast. We are revisiting a blog post from earlier this year that really resonated with me today as I was planning this broadcast.
“Do you understand what I just said?”
That was one of my mother’s questions that always got my attention.
I can recall dozens of times my mother asking that question, usually when I was but one small step from incurring serious discipline. It was a question loaded with a serious warning.
Conversely, as a recruiter, there are times when I have wanted to ask a candidate: Do you understand what you just said?