If done for the right reasons, now might be the perfect time to change jobs. If done for the wrong reasons, it's the worst thing you can do. But first, let me make the case that now might be the best time to start looking.

 

According to a recent survey by the Business Roundtable, CEOs at some of the largest U.S. companies see continuing strong growth in the economy. In addition, as the graph from the U.S. Department of Labor (JOLTs Report) indicates, job growth is continuing to accelerate. On top of this, there are now more than five million open jobs in the U.S. and there were more than three million new jobs filled in the past 12 months. Expect these trends to continue.JOLTS Dec 2014

So while the job market is strong and getting stronger, now might just be the perfect time to change jobs. But hold on. This time you need to do it the right way and for the right reasons.

 

Avoiding the vicious cycle of underperformance, dissatisfaction, and turnover.

Consider this depressing fact: The Gallup Group reported last month that 68 percent of the U.S. labor force is disengaged. Since the U.S. private labor force is roughly 160 million people, it means that 108 million people are underperforming. That is quite disturbing. Equally disturbing is that 95 percent of the five million open jobs in January 2015 still emphasize skills, experiences, and personality traits. I contend that this is the root cause of why we have 108 million people in the U.S. who are disengaged and another 10 to 20 million people who are either unemployed or are work force dropouts. If you already have a job and are part of the 68 percent, use your next job change to become part of the 32 percent. Here's how to start.

 

Job Seekers Career Grid 3

 

First position yourself on the job seeker's decision grid shown in the graphic. The lower half of the grid highlights the reasons people leave jobs and the upper half why they accept new ones. Unfortunately, when comparing and accepting jobs, too many people focus on the short-term extrinsic reasons shown on the left, both positive and negative, instead of the long-term intrinsic reasons shown on the right. More unfortunate, companies set up transactional hiring practices that first filter candidates based on their level of skills and then emphasize the short-term "Getting--Day 1" positives as the criteria for negotiating offers. Since little is known about the real job (Doing--Year 1), the long-term career opportunity, or what motivates the person to excel, the process sets up the "vicious cycle" of disengagement, dissatisfaction, and underperformance leading to "Going Nowhere" careers. This is shown by the dotted red line in the graphic.

To determine if you should think about leaving you need to evaluate your current job on all four quadrants: the good vs. the bad and the long vs. the short. If the negatives outweigh the positives, the thinking should start. If you're in a career "Going Nowhere" it's time to get serious not only about the thinking, but also the doing. But in this case, as you evaluate an opportunity, you need to emphasize the long-term career growth aspects of any new job--the "Doing--Year 1" criteria in the upper right of the grid.

With this in mind here are some things you can do to make sure your next career move is the right career move.

 

 

1. Don't apply to the job posting under any circumstances.

Even if you get an interview and a job offer, it will likely be another entry point for the vicious cycle. Instead, use the back door to get an interview.

2. Force everyone you talk with to describe the job in terms of performance objectives.

By asking the right questions you'll quickly know everything you need to about the "Doing--Year 1." Recruiter's secret: Asking these questions will impress the interviewer!

3. Determine the opportunity gap.

This is the difference in your current job and the "Doing--Year 1" opportunity. Shoot for a 30 percent increase mostly in terms of job stretch and job growth with a modest compensation bump.

The most important person in your new career is your boss. If this person is not in a position to help you grow and develop, your job satisfaction will quickly decline.

(Here's a video that gives you more insight into this whole process and the handheld instruction guide.)

As you evaluate your personal situation, ponder how you'd answer this question I ask all candidates: "Why did you leave your last job and did you achieve what you were looking for in the next one?" If you make excuses or emphasize the "Getting--Day 1" criteria as your rationale for accepting an offer, I get concerned. You should be, too. To eliminate any future concerns make sure your next job change is made for the right "Doing--Year 1" reason regardless of any temporary "feel good" short-term pressure relief. This is a sure way to be sucked into the 68 percent of people who take jobs for all of the wrong reasons.