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Having a career is different to having a job. You can have a string of jobs that seem to be related, but they don't lead to actual professional development or success.
Some of them may be parallel moves that make you seem stuck in a particular phase for longer than expected.
When building a career, the pursuit should be for jobs that are consistent with your ambition as well as with the industry requirements and development. That is not to say you should pursue jobs that are not attractive or appealing to you personally. Instead, try to achieve that would lead to where you want to be in a decade or even longer, and take all the steps that lead you there.
Along this journey, there are many compromises that may be required. You may find yourself forced to stay longer with an employer to get a particular promotion, or you may work for a less-than-ideal salary for a while to accumulate experience and build your background. Whatever you do to achieve a solid foundation for the career and to take steady steps towards that will pay off handsomely in the long run.
So, whenever you come to a career crossroads such as changing jobs, accepting a promotion or quitting a position, ask yourself the following questions:
What is driving the decision?
If you are driven solely by money or status like in a better title or position, you may be missing out on the larger picture. Of course a better-paying job can be irresistible, but the question is how far it adds to your overall knowledge and long-term goals. Remember, building an in-depth knowledge of anything can be a day in and day out process that can seem to be going slow.
If you don't have the patience and persistence to go through these phases, you may be losing sight of how you need to build on the knowledge. In short, don't just change a job because you are looking for change, more money or a better title. Take your time to acquire long-term knowledge that is well-developed before making a jump to a new organisation.
What do you know about the new position?
Many people take new jobs because they are unhappy with the current situation, whether it's the job or the organisation. In their rush to jump ship at the first opportunity, they may forget to fully explore the new opportunity. Although there is so much you — or anyone — could know about a future job, a little bit of digging can go a long way.
Don't only look for how a future job is better than the current one. Instead, make sure the aspects you like about your current job won't be lost in any transition. For example, do you love your short commute and plenty of paid time-off but dislike the work schedule? If the future job offers a better schedule, but a longer commute and unmatched benefits, would you still be attracted to it?
Being realistic about the drawbacks is essential to making an informed decision.
What do you want in your next job?
Although you need to be flexible and evolve with the opportunities coming your way, it is still important to keep an eye on the long-term goals you had set for a career. Thinking of what you want in the next job in terms of professional development should keep you on track. You should also be confident that what you want is achievable, and would come even if you pass on an immediate opportunity.
For example, if the goal was to move up the ranks as a natural step, and you have been offered a parallel job at a higher compensation, it may make sense to turn it down. It is often a tough call, but if you get it right you will be able to see the career going in the right direction — and you probably will be able to make the extra money anyway.
Source: Rania Oteify, Special to gulfnews.com
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor