In the words of my 7-year-old son, I’m a weirdo pants. And if you look at the way I’m currently managing my career, that might be an appropriate characterization. I took a job 9 years ago in my current branch, and for the first year or so, I was manager of performance measurement. Then I started a five-year process of “big scary projects” on top of my regular job, often as the sole branch rep involved in it, and the rest of my job kind of moved to the corner of my desk at times. I kept things going, but just based on time and intense focus, the projects were far more important to my workplan than my day-to-day files. Then we reorganized, my director left, I acted for a while, and then I took over as manager for our corporate planning team, subsuming my job as manager for performance measurement, and I’ve been doing that new combined job more or less for the last three years.
So three years ago, I thought, “six years is enough”, and planned to move on. Except I had a great boss and new files. So I stayed. Then two years ago, I thought, “Okay, time to move on”, except again, there was no real incentive. Good boss, good work / life balance, good files, and I stayed. Just over a year ago, I was like, “Okay, time to REALLY move on”, but I didn’t. Sure, I had to get my french renewed first, but even with that in hand, I haven’t been embracing the job hunt. And, honestly, why would I?
I report directly to an EX-03 who gives me a lot of autonomy. I interact regularly with all the DGs and ADMs, and they like my work. Nobody is telling me to fix what isn’t broken, I gained some new financial experience in the last year, I have a great team to work with, the work balance has been good, and I am both good at my job and enjoy it. So why leave? Because I threw my hat in the ring last year for a promotion to get a specific job, and when I updated my résumé, I had to add coverage for the last two years — and I only changed six words.
Never, in my entire career, has that happened. I have always had new files, new projects, new SOMETHING / ANYTHING that kept the renewal constant. But, here I was, now 9 years in the same “box”, and no real change in files or initiatives in the last 3 years. I could have invented stuff to talk about, or rather blew up a few things just to look different, but that’s not the point. It wasn’t how to spin it to look bigger, it was that it wasn’t ACTUALLY different. So I talked to my boss, we started a search for a replacement, and we even posted the job in March for applicants to pose their candidacy.
Why is that weird? Because I have no idea what job I am going to do next.
It’s true, I don’t know. And if the first question out of everyone’s mouth is, “Where are you going?”, the second that quickly follows is, “What do you mean, you don’t know?”. Because NOBODY does that. You find a new job, you quit your old one, they hire a replacement, maybe there’s a gap to cover. But I agreed that I would “train” my replacement although it is more about transfer over of some corporate knowledge than it is “training”. And my boss asked for a month, and that seemed fine. Plus I’m finishing my french.
So she’s interviewing my replacements last week and this, and I haven’t even really looked too hard to find something. Some by laziness, some by agreement, but some of that was by intentional design. Most of the people I’m going to talk to are more senior, and I don’t want to waste their time. It’s a bit of an overstatement, but they do often think “What do I need someone to do RIGHT NOW?”, not two or three months from now. So I didn’t want to talk to them, have them go, “Perfect, start doing this”, and then have to say, “Wait a minute, I’m not free until two months from now.” To which some could conceivably say, “Two months? That’s a lifetime from now!”.
I confess, somewhat both arrogantly and humbly, that I have “options”. Lots of people have said, “Sooooo”, and want to have a chat. So I know I’ll find “something”, but will it be the right thing? If I’m going to do a proper search, and I should this time (although grasping something willy nilly last time worked out well for me!), then I need the time to do the real search, chatting people up, asking their advice.
So I officially started looking today. Reaching out, scheduling meetings. I had been waiting until after May, but someone I respect advised me that it wasn’t too early, particularly if I made it clear right up front that I was looking for something in late Spring, not now. It would slow the conversation pace, slow the urgency of meeting, and people have been saying yes to the meetings. I’ve set up three so far, and two others are pending scheduling. Very diverse groups, very different job possibilities. I have another four or five in mind, and the conversations with the first batch may generate more, or different ones, for the second round. Or they may lead to something that negates the second round. I had two already in the last six months, and one was great but not with the current management structure and one was good, but a bad fit for me on the real work. I could do it, but my heart wouldn’t be in it, even if I love the boss.
I have a good idea what I’m looking for, partly as I know myself and my interests+skills pretty well, but also because I did a fairly methodical review of my past jobs and what I liked about them. That’ll be in the next post…
Is anybody else looking for a change in job this year?