HOW TO ASSESS A NEW OPPORTUNITY

by Matt Thomas

People 30 years old and younger are unfamiliar with a world where a job was simply a means of putting food on the table or best case, saving for retirement. If you are over 30 then you walked (crawled?) through the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession. Those 30-35 entered a hostile job market and probably still remember asking themselves what exactly they went to college for!

Our economy is on quite a run right now with a bull market lasting much longer than anyone expected, and with recession indicators cooling off, it looks to continue for the foreseeable future. In a strong economy, candidates are often presented with multiple opportunities. In the recruiting industry, we see a sharp increase in passive candidate placements. In other words, folks who are not actively looking for a job but are open to new opportunities.

But how should we assess a new opportunity? Especially when we are fairly content with our current job. Here are 5 questions we should ask ourselves when assessing a new opportunity:

Is the total compensation where I need it to be?

To be clear, total comp usually should include base salary, bonus structure, projected commissions, health insurance, 401k, and profit-sharing. Organizations with 100+ employees will usually have all of the above. Smaller companies or start-ups may not have more than a salary. Taking a haircut in comp is only the right choice if your current environment is toxic or the upward mobility / earning potential in the opportunity is significant. It’s not your dream job if you can’t pay your bills.

Taking a haircut in comp is only the right choice if your current environment is toxic or the upward mobility / earning potential in the opportunity is significant.

Do I fit the culture?

Every candidate should do as much research as possible to ensure they understand the culture they are walking into. Ultimately, culture will inform the working environment, performance expectations, work life balance, and overall job satisfaction. If you don’t fit, you don’t fit. Look elsewhere.

Do I trust the leadership?

This is a big one. Too often candidates will forego concerns about organizational leadership because they will report to someone lower on the food chain. If you don’t trust the leadership of the organization don’t take the job. Whether via reputation or personal experience, it’s imperative that you trust the character, integrity, and competency of the people leading the company.

Will this position tap into my skills and passions?

No one enjoys a job they aren’t any good at. Make sure that you have the skills necessary to contribute and add value. If the company mission and vision excite you and the work is going to stretch you, that is an added bonus. Most people do not get to work in a place that taps into both skill and passion, so when that opportunity presents itself, pay attention.

Most people do not get to work in a place that taps into both skill and passion, so when that opportunity presents itself, pay attention.

What is the worst-case scenario?

This is a question I encourage every entrepreneur to dig into prior to launching a new business. What happens if 6 months in you realize this was a mistake? What if the company folds? What if you don’t fit the culture and are terminated? These are all questions you should ask yourself prior to accepting a new position, especially with a start-up. If you are reasonably comfortable with the uncertainty a new job entails then make the jump, but if the thought of ending up on the street in six months is paralyzing it may be better for you to look for something more stable and secure.

New opportunities are exciting! Even if you are happy with your current position I encourage you to always stay open to new positions. You never know when the perfect gig may fall in your lap!