To determine if the this new opportunity is the right fit for you, you’ll likely have you ask yourself a number of key questions: Does this role advance my career? Does it offer me more money? Will it offer an improved work environment? And several others.
While these are all important considerations, the single most powerful reason for accepting or declining an offer will likely not come from any part of this analysis. Many senior people who are gainfully employed consider these roles because they are opportunistic, and recognize that finding their next great role will likely come when they least expect it; and not because they are terribly unhappy or even craving a change.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, Gladwell contends that we all possess expert judgment if we rely on the “adaptive unconscious,” or our ability to rely on a narrow field of evidence without the pitfalls of stereotypes. It could be argued that he was essentially saying, “trust your gut”. This is not to suggest that you should accept a new job because you like the interviewer or the location of this new prospective employer. Rather, by applying this powerful skill, you will likely reduce the sleepless nights and torment we all experience when receiving that next offer of employment.
Before applying this talent, it is critical you actually get to the point in your analysis that will enable you to “accept” a new job. Particular questions that will forever be helpful and keep you on the right career track should include: Does this new job bring me closer to my goals? Are the company’s goals and products ones that I believe in (e.g. will I work for a cigarette manufacturer)? Will I enjoy working with the people I met? Is the industry one in which growth and success is likely? Is this company a possible takeover target? And, will the role enhance my scope of responsibilities?
Counselling candidates to accept an offer is not the role of the recruiter. Candidates need to know this through their own devices. In fact, it is not difficult to point to examples of situations in which candidates didn’t follow their gut instincts; accepted a role, and shortly thereafter, figured out their concerns in the first interview (whether it be the unkempt office of the hiring manger, or the unusual vibe felt after meeting some of the employees) were real.
Conversely, there are countless situations in which inertia played such a powerful role that candidates chose not to accept an offer, and later discovered the company rose to the top of its industry and made acquisitions that led to greater scope and variety in the position.
Notwithstanding the power of inertia, or the willingness to blindly accept a potentially disastrous role, following your inner voice and instincts can only lead you down the path of success. Sure, mistakes can be made when following this advice, but the odds are in your favour if you follow your gut and experience. The next time you decide to switch jobs, and you can’t seem to decide on what to do, remember the only person that can help you is yourself, and your natural instincts.
Warren Bongard is co-founder and president of legal recruiting firm ZSA. His columns appear every third Thursday at www.financialpost.com/executive. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.