Members of Rochester Women's Network offer career advice
Debbie Harper • March 8, 2009
You've just accepted the perfect job. The position description reads like your résumé. The people seem nice, and you're excited and optimistic about taking your career to the next level.
Six months later, you take a look around and shake your head in disbelief. The job isn't what you thought it would be and you're miserable. What happened? How could you have been so wrong?
You're not alone. According to a survey by Novations Group, a consulting firm in Boston, between 10 percent and 25 percent of new hires leave their organizations within the first year. The most commonly cited reasons were unrealistic expectations of the job and the organizations.
This turnover comes at significant financial expense to the hiring company, but also can result in a high personal and career expense to the individual. How can such costly mistakes be avoided?
Before you accept a new position, you need to take your due diligence a step further. Too often a job description is really nothing more than a wish list of qualifications or a to-do list of tasks. Companies fill a position and candidates accept a position based on a perceived skills match without digging deeper into the realities of the position, the work style and the company culture.
Here are three key questions you need to answer when you're looking at a new opportunity: Can I do this job? Do I want to do this job? How well do I fit?
Can I do the job? This should be easy to determine, right? Not always. Your definition of a job function and the company's expectations may be completely different. As part of your due diligence, you need to clearly understand the components of the job. Take, for example, a job description that reads "responsible for producing marketing collateral." You may interpret this to mean you'll be managing the process of creating marketing pieces. The company may want you sitting down at a computer to actually create the graphics, content and layout. It's the same function, but very different skill sets.
Do I want to do this job? In addition to understanding the tasks or functions of a position, you need to clearly define the accountabilities. What are you expected to accomplish and in what time frame? How will you be evaluated? Ask what you need to accomplish in the first 90 days, 180 days and first year to be deemed successful in the new role. The answer will tell you not just whether you can do the job, but whether you want to.
How well do I fit? A good fit goes beyond liking the people you'll be working with. You must evaluate company culture and values as well as work style. Do you agree with the mission, vision and values of the company? Is your work style in sync with the group you'll be joining? For example, you may be accustomed to working independently with a weekly status report to your manager. Can you work effectively with a micro-manager? Or you may prefer face-to-face interaction, but the new position requires you to manage people in multiple locations by teleconference. The variables are endless, and there's no right or wrong scenario. It's all about what works for you.
Before you entertain your next job change, make time to reflect on what you want to do and the environment that best suits you. Then take a hard look at the new opportunity and answer the three questions: Can I do it? Do I want to do it? Do I fit?
Debbie Harper is president of Harper Hewes Executive Search. She has more than 20 years in the industry and is certified in employee retention and behavioral interviewing/targeted selection.