With IT talent at such a premium, it’s no surprise that recruiters often make an effort to poach workers from competing companies. Often, they approach people who aren’t even actively looking for a job, offering better pay, maybe a signing bonus and sometimes stock options. If you’re the one taking the call, it can be heady stuff. But getting a great offer doesn’t always mean jumping ship is the smartest option. Even in the best of circumstances changing jobs is, for lack of a better term, a complex proposition. So before you make a move, here are some things to consider beyond the obvious elements like salary, benefits and vacation time.
Assess Your Current Job
First, get introspective, suggests Julia Berning, talent acquisition manager at Cincom Systems
, a Cincinnati-based software company. “Money is nice, but it’s not necessarily the main reason for leaving a job,” she says. Culture, flexibility and perks, for instance, can all be part of a new job’s attractiveness. The only real way to evaluate an offer is by first evaluating the job you have, Berning says. Write down all of your current position’s pros and cons, then compare them to what’s being offered to see if the new company is filling in gaps, or opening some up.
Know the People
Another thing to consider is people, specifically the people you’d be working with at the new company, says Sean Bowen, CEO of software company Push Technology. Even if your new job would have favored elements of your old one, make sure the place you’re heading can keep you interested. That means you should consider whether you can learn from the people you’d be working with. “Technical people like to be excited, and they like to work with smart people,” Bowen observes. “Talented people help to attract other talented people.” Bowen recommends that you “reverse interview” prospective employers. Ask to speak with people currently working at the company, preferably with some of those who’d be your colleagues if you come on board.
Look at the Culture
Cultural fit should be high on your list of considerations, says Jason Hanold, CEO and managing partner of Hanold Associates, an Evanston, Ill., executive search firm. And while nothing trumps a tidy payday, Hanold observes that it’s also important to be in a place where you feel comfortable and where you can grow. “Candidates are getting savvier, and they’re asking is this the leader, team or company that I want to work for,” he says. “Make an informed decision and appreciate the fact that the grass isn’t always greener. Ask yourself if the new organization is keeping at the forefront of technology, since that’s going to be where the better opportunities are going to be.”
Your move should be about career growth, too, says Julie Desmond, IT recruiting manager at George Konik Associates, a technical recruiting firm in Minneapolis. The most in-demand IT professionals understand that technology is an evolving industry. That means you often have to move around to diversify your experience in new industries or with different systems. But the IT world is small, too, so Desmond cautions not to burn your bridges, even for a bigger and better opportunity. “The ship you’re jumping off of right now might be the one you want to return to later on,” she says. “So don’t leave mid-project, do give reasonable notice, and leave clean code and strong documentation.”
Be Open to Change
Finally, don’t pass up a chance to explore a new opportunity, even if your inclination is to stay put, says Paul Millard, managing partner of the Millard Group, a search firm in Middletown, Conn. “In a day and age where there is not a lot of loyalty, I would encourage folks to always take a call from a company or headhunter and respectfully hear the other party out and be very clear about your current intentions and potential interests for the future,” he says. And even if the offer isn’t a good fit, be polite. The recruiter or HR manager might be useful down the road. Says Millard: “Build a relationship for the future, since you never know.”
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