How To Evaluate Risk When Changing Jobs

How To Evaluate Risk When Changing Jobs

I was recently contacted by an established agency leader, who is considering a career shift. He has been offered an exciting opportunity to turn around a battered brand that was once beloved. For a creative leader, this is a dream opportunity, but it also comes with risks. The company is owned by private equity, and in my experience, private equity has very little appetite for long runways, expensive executive leadership, or brand building without measurable ROI. This is not to say that private equity isn’t awesome. Frankly, I love PE-backed companies due to the rigor, accountability, and profits when they flip. However, for an established executive, who is on solid footing in their current position and has young kids getting ready to enter college, there are risks to be aware of.

Here are five of the most important things to think about when measuring the risk of a job change:

  1. Financial Stability: Assess the financial health of the company you are considering joining. Look at its revenue streams, profitability, and cash flow. If it's a public company, review its financial statements and quarterly reports. For private companies, try to gather as much information as possible from industry reports or insider insights. The stability of your potential employer is a critical factor in how much runway they have, which means how much runway you have to prove yourself.
  2. Cultural Fit: Evaluate the company culture to ensure it aligns with your values and work style. A company’s culture can significantly impact your work happiness and performance. Consider visiting the office, meeting potential colleagues, and asking about the management and how they run the team and business.
  3. Career Growth Opportunities: When accepting a new position, the role typically comes with career advancement.  Think beyond what is in front of you though and work to understand the career opportunities this position can create for you after 2-3 years of success.  You want to make sure any new position you take will contribute to your long-term career goals.
  4. Job Security: Understand the stability of your new role within the company. If the company is undergoing restructuring or is heavily reliant on short-term performance metrics, job security might be a concern. Discuss these aspects with the CEO or hiring leader and try to get a sense of why they are restructuring, and the divisions that were most impacted.  If you are a replacement for a former leader, make sure to understand why they weren't successful in the role and have confidence you can close that gap.
  5. Work-Life Balance: Reflect on how the new job will impact your personal life. Will the demands of the new role allow you to maintain a healthy work-life balance? Consider factors such as work hours, travel requirements, family life, and flexibility. Your day-to-day happiness is what will ultimately deliver career success for you.

New beginnings are incredibly exciting, and changing companies allows us to grow personally and professionally.  It also typically enables you to uptick your earning potential and march closer to your career goals. Understanding the risks that come along with the new position, and entering into the role with your eyes wide open, will make for a much smoother transition and greater success in the position you are taking on.