The job after this job

A wise old friend of mine in the recruiting industry had a saying he used quite often – “the job after this job”. He offered this to candidates in order to get them to think about what a current position was doing for their longer-term career goals.

Your career should be treated like a game of chess, with a focus always two or three moves ahead. As you consider new opportunities, think about what they would do to position you for the next move in your career.

Often candidates focus only on the immediate advantages of a job offer – like salary, benefits, technologies being used, etc. Don’t get me wrong, all of this stuff is important. But also important and often overlooked are other considerations, like:

  • Company culture. Is the culture of the company one where employees are rewarded or promoted from within to positions of greater responsibility? It’s fair game to ask about this during the interview process.
  • Your immediate manager. Will your manager provide you with stretch opportunities and feedback? This may be a touchy question to ask a would-be manager in an interview, as it could come off sounding like “what are you going to do for me?” But you can ask indirect questions to get an idea. Also important is your manager’s political clout in the organization. Does their opinion matter to others? Can they sing your praises in management circles and have it mean something?
  • Breadth or depth of experience. Will the new position add valuable experience to your resume? For example, will you become a subject matter expert in an area or gain experience in something completely new? Whatever the case consider whether you’ll be more valuable with this experience on your resume.
  • Take a step back to move forward. Is the right career move one that takes you back in salary or responsibilities but gives you better future potential? Not all career moves have to be in an upward direction. If you need to take a step back to move into a new field or into a better company, then do it. Consider what this move will do for your career five or so years into the future.

Always think of the job after this job and treat your career like a game of chess.  Your future self will be saying “checkmate”!

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