We had a party to celebrate his new job. On the surface, it seemed perfect – more money, more room to express his creativity and more autonomy.
He was making a bold move, leaving a large multinational to a more home-grown firm where he was sure his skills and talents would be appreciated more.
And most importantly, he felt he was going to make a real difference in people's lives as opposed to what he called 'enriching a faceless corporation'.
18 months later, we were catching up over coffee when he disclosed he was leaving what at the onset had felt like a dream job.
'It's easy to believe the grass is always greener on the other side. But I'm finding it hard to shake the feeling that I'm less and less satisfied in this role. And to complicate matters even more, I have a potential job offer from another organisation – I'm just not sure this is a case of me jumping ship to regret it later', he said.
When it comes to our careers, we all struggle with this at one point. Sure, at the start of our working lives the pay package may be the overriding factor in choosing one role over another.
"Several of the professionals I interact with share a common struggle – how to make decisions that balance career growth with satisfaction in other areas of their lives," Allison, a management consultant says.
The conflict is more prevalent with mid-career professionals for who salary, the prestige factor and positions are not the only deciding factor.
How do you evaluate the 'softer' considerations and how to balance these with your other desires like being present in your family's lives or your ability to build a personal brand that can stand on its own, separate from your employer?
Whether it's two competing job offers or a new opportunity in the same company, the first thing to evaluate is the compensation package.
Just because salary is not the only determining factor in whether you accept a position or offer does not mean it is irrelevant.
Assuming that you have done the difficult work of negotiating and settled on a figure that represents your value, how do the options stack up?
Alex Muniu, a HR practitioner and self-proclaimed master negotiator advices comparing everything from basic pay to benefits including health care, vacation and maternity or paternity leave days to incentives and bonus schemes.
We all envision an ideal career path. What are your priorities in and out of the workplace?
These span different areas – health, family, workplace autonomy, building your brand, creativity, adventure – the list goes on.
If say, you have a young family and would like to be present in their lives but a potential position requires you to spend significant periods of time away from home, is that a sacrifice you're willing to make?
Culture and fit are incredibly important as a barometer for whether you will be happy in an organization or not, but they are also the most difficult to attest to unless you are in the organization.
"You can tell a lot about how a company operates and treats employees from the interview, negotiating and offer process. Use your gut to dig deeper into things that make you uncomfortable, but do not jump to conclusions.
If you are unsure about something, ask questions and listen to the answer, how it's delivered," says Maggie Freel, a corporate recruiter. If you ask for more time to weigh your decision, do they put you under pressure to make an immediate choice or are they willing to give you some flexibility?
By now, you have a clear idea on what your priorities are, what your ideal career path looks like and what kind of workplace appeals to you. Creating a scorecard in form of a decision grid will give clarity when weighing two or more options.
Grab a sheet of paper and list down each decision factor you have considered. These may include benefits, pay, leadership and professional development opportunities, ability to use your creativity, autonomy, flexible schedule and working hours, workplace commute and telecommuting etc. Assign a value between 1 and 5 on all of them (5 being most important to you and 1 least).
Next, have a column for each position you're considering. If say, your current position has no opportunities for leadership then you will assign a low score (1 or 2) to it. Do this for all the factors and for each position indicate the likelihood of achieving your priorities.
Multiply each value on the decision factor by each score under the likelihood of achieving it for each position, tally the scores and you will have a sum for each position or option you are considering.
This numerical representation is used by professionals to stack up the soft and hard factors on a scale that does not disparage either.