Are You Running To – or From – When Making a Job Change?

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?

There are some days that every one of us dreads strapping on our work clothes and going to work. It could be the work we do, who we do it for – and with – or a combination of things. And there are some jobs that downright sap the joy out of working.

When the moment comes that you begin considering whether or not you want to make a change, you must first determine if you are running to, or running from.

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 your 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 a dozen to perhaps twenty clear and measurable criteria that are things you strongly desire to have in a job, such as compensation, culture, commute, benefits, your potential boss, and the like. You may want to do some additional research so you have as complete a picture of the ideal job as possible. Your list becomes your standard, against which you’ll measure specific opportunities.

Now, compare each opportunity against your criteria. This will mean a thorough investigation of each new opportunity, in order to objectively compare each new opportunity point-by-point to your list. Include your current job and situation as another point of comparison. Now you’re ready to answer some specific questions about each new opportunity, such as:

  • How does the new opportunity compare to both your criteria and your current position?
  • 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 specifically will you gain by moving to the new opportunity?

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. That means giving proper notice, then working out your notice period at the highest levels of diligence and quality you can muster. It means leaving things in better shape than when you inherited them, with notes about your files and systems. Why? Because you never know when you will need the future support of your former employer and supervisors.

Bottom Line

Don’t be the person who is ever searching for that next job, always changing, but never being satisfied at the new job. If you develop a track record of job-hopping, you’ll severely limit any opportunity you might have to be considered for the really good jobs that could be the best places to work.

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I work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. I also help job seekers, higher ed, and employment services connect people to better jobs faster. My company’s acclaimed career development tools help people navigate the ever-changing landscape of conducting a successful job search. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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