Career Advice

Thinking About A Job Change? Evaluate The Color Of Your Grass First

Even with more than a million people who are still out of work for nearly 100 weeks and another four million people unemployed for less than that time, we are beginning to see opportunities open up as “churn” starts.  Churn is the musical chairs movement from one company to another that can happen without many net job gains.  All of the data shows that churn starts when people feel more confident about their company and the companies who are trying to hire them. We also know from our recent employment studies that there is pent-up demand in the market from employees who have gone through a lot of employment stress (layoff survivals and pay freezes or reductions) who have said that as soon as the market picks back up that they will start actively looking for the next job.

Now the question for all of us is, do we make a move for the sake of making a move, or are we better off staying where we are for now?

It really all depends on the color of the grass.

Human nature always has us acting like cows and sticking our head through the fence because the grass looks greener on the other side. But, is that true or is it just that we filter the color through our own experiences and we make it look greener over there because we feel like the grass underneath is trodden upon, stamped down, brown and dusty.  But is that really so, or is it our perception because we have been in a job for what seems like too long and there isn’t much love coming our way from our current company?

I am coaching an executive right now who is in this state of mind.  From the outside looking in, it sure looks like he has some very green grass where he is, but when he looks down all he can see is brown.  He may end up making a choice that is not good for him because he has become color blinded.

Here are some thoughts if you are contemplating a job change:

  • All the grass yellows. There is no perfect company, job or opportunity. There will always be yellow and brown spots and what is important is that we keep perspective and we don’t lose that perspective when it comes time for a decision to be made. We all have our own examples, and know of others, who make a job change because it all looked green “over there” at the time, only to find that the grass was just as yellow over there.
  • The grass is greenest where you water it. A friend of mine says this to himself each time he is going through a job change decision and has resisted recruiters who try to convince him he should make a change.  During these times he takes out the hypothetical watering hose or can and he pours himself and his efforts into his current job to be sure that he can make the grass green again. Not surprisingly, he finds that with a little water the grass starts to turn green.  We could all use this lesson when we think we have done all that we can. But, with some more effort, more conversations with our bosses, more understanding of the current situation, and a little more initiative or patience, we can watch the grass turn green under us again.

Churn is starting and opportunities will come our way again.  When they do, let’s be sure that we are looking at the color of the grass with as few filters as we can.  Better career decisions will happen if we can just realize that it isn’t always greener on the other side.