At Savannah we take great pride in delivering win-win candidate and organisation matches, offering diligent and honest assessments of candidates. Finding the best talent is hard. Finding the best talent with increasingly narrow parameters in a highly competitive market is harder. Uncovering the rare individual who is willing to move from the company in which they are in and who will quickly make a lasting positive impact on the organisation they join is even more difficult.

That’s why when the preferred candidate asks: “Should I take the job?” it is tempting for search consultants to automatically advise “Yes.” But the answer isn’t always that simple….and what is right for the individual isn’t ultimately right for the hiring organisation; the impact of failed hires is well documented. 

As headhunters, we are asked for career advice on a daily basis. Whether or not a role is “right” for an individual is a nuanced, personal decision with a plethora of factors to consider.

After thousands of conversations advising clients and candidates, I have come up with four simple questions to guide candidates who are considering their next move:

  1. Do I like the people?
  2. Will I add value?
  3. Will I learn something new?
  4. What is my gut feel?

In my opinion, answering these four questions honestly unearths the answer to whether you should take a new job or remain where you are if in a role.

1. Do I like the people?

If we are doing our job properly, all candidates interviewed by the client will have the relevant experience to equip them for the role. The client and candidate focus through the interview process should therefore be on assessing cultural fit, motivation and career aspirations. Both parties should be considering:

  1. Potential succession plan
  2. Effect on the rest of the team
  3. Does it make sense as a career move?
  4. Cultural fit within the wider organisation

From a candidate perspective you should assess compatibility with the people you meet, and whether you have a good ‘feel’ for the company.  Do you like the location, offices and way of working – does it feel right?

2. Will I add real value?

When going into a new role, it is essential to make a positive impact right from the off. Take your time to meet people and to understand the business and key stakeholders that will affect your ability to be successful.  

A company is taking a certain level of risk when making senior hires. You need to be clear where and how you are going to add value before accepting the role. This can be in any number of areas, but you have to feel confident that you will prove your worth in the short to medium term. If you doubt this ability or place the likelihood of success as low, think carefully about taking the job.

3. Will I learn something new?

When thinking about taking a new role, particularly when you are still building your experience and skillset, it is important to identify areas of stretch or new learning. Examples could be:

  • A new geography, culture or language
  • A new ownership structure
  • A new sector
  • A new function

You should be aiming to keep learning with every new role. The more you learn, the greater your value will be in the future. It is important to find the balance between a role that will stretch you and a role that may stretch you too far and put you in danger of failing.

For example, why would a highly international technology business based in Manila that is private equity owned seeking a CEO, hire a CFO who has only ever worked in Bristol for a UK Plc in FMCG ? An extreme example but the stretch needs to be there for the candidate but not to the point where it makes the chances of success unlikely.

4. What is my gut feel?

If you are looking at a new role, either internally or externally and can answer the other three questions positively, it is likely that the answer to this question will also be a yes.

If you either don’t like the people or don’t feel that you can add any value in the new role, then your gut will tell you that it is not the right move, and you should reject the role.

We are often asked by a candidate (whether we are working on a mandate or not) if it is a good move – we are always happy to advise on what it does for one’s career etc – but we cannot answer if it is the right move. It is a very personal decision – but it should be an easy one…

What about money?

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that there is no mention of money. My assertion is that if you can answer all four of these questions in the positive then take the job – the money will look after itself. For example:

  • Do I like the people? – if the chemistry from both sides is positive the employer will want you in the business – if not, money is a moot point.
  • Will I learn something new? – if you are not developing yourself as an individual then you may not find the role as rewarding and progress later in your career may slow.
  • Will I add real value? – if you are not going to add value in any number of ways then why do you deserve to be paid well?
  • What is my gut feel? – if the money is not at the level expected, then your gut will tell you that it is the wrong move.

If you can answer “yes” to these four questions, then the remuneration will in all likelihood be acceptable.

When it comes to other hygiene factors such as family, location, schooling – rely on your gut to tell you whether it is the right move for all those affected by the change.

What’s next?

When looking at making an all-important career move (and they are all important), ask yourself these four simple questions. If you can answer yes to all four, then take the job. If any of the answers are “no” or “I am not sure”, it is the wrong role and may end up being a bad move.

Although simplistic, it could help you dodge a bad career move and, from our client’s perspective, avoid a costly hiring mistake.

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