top of page
  • Writer's pictureJessica Davey

Is this the right job for me?

Changing job is a huge deal. Whether you have been in the working world for 2 years or 20 years, it doesn’t change things – it’s still a bloody tough decision to make.

However, as we progress our lives and careers, the reasons why we choose a certain job does change.

Throughout my many years in recruitment and even as I reflect on my own career choices over time, I have recognised that what we value and prioritise at the beginning of our careers undoubtedly changes as we become more senior, experienced and …(*shudders*) older.

But also life-changing circumstances (our health, our relationships, our family or a global pandemic perhaps?) can also alter how we view our career choices.

Life as we know it is changing. The working world is changing.

Whenever I speak to candidates, I take the time to understand what is truly important to them. My job is to listen. However, my job is to also advise. I encourage candidates to dig deep into what is truly important to them and what will ultimately make them happy.

Job title VS opportunity to make an impact

When we begin our careers, we want to establish ourselves straight away and progress as quickly as possible. Often our job title is a catalyst to that.

As we become more senior, to a certain extent, job titles are just semantics. This is especially true in the world of start-ups, where the office dog could be called Chief Happiness Officer and no one would bat an eyelid.

What employers truly care about is what you have achieved. Some people have the most grandiose job title, but they have not directly impacted anything in the business.

Employers want to understand when you have built, scaled, transformed or improved an organisation. Employers want to see where you have left your mark, what war wounds you have from the chaotic start-up world and therefore what experience and lessons learned you can bring to their organisation.

When considering whether to accept a job or not, do not base your decision on job title – base it on how much of an opportunity will you truly have to make an impact.

Salary VS overall package, but also – irrespective of money – will this job make you happy?

Approach the ‘money’ conversation with caution.

Your basic salary is incredibly important: it should be reflective of your experience and enable you to live the life you want to live. However, the more senior a role you take in a business – and the more influential you are in the company – the more of yourself you have to give. If you are not truly happy with your role – regardless of the pay cheque at the end of the month – every day will feel like a struggle. Ask yourself: irrespective of money, will this job make me get out of bed every day, keep me excited, challenge me, make me happy? Do not disregard a job opportunity because the basic salary is the same as what you are on already or perhaps even a little bit less. If the opportunity itself excites you and the experience you gain will propel your career, sometimes that is more important than the price tag.

In regards to bonus, I have three words for you: “pinch of salt”. Assess whether the bonus is actually achievable, has been paid out previously and what it is comprised of (e.g. personal performance and/or company performance).

As an Executive, you should be paying more attention to the options because – let’s be honest – that is what will make you rich. Consider their total worth and vesting options. As a senior leader, the Founders will want to tie you in to the business because they see you as an integral part of making it a success, so you should be incentivised to stay.

Company name/size VS market proposition and company mission

Perhaps we have picked it up from our parents’ generation or ill qualified school teachers, who dish out career advice when they have ironically never stepped foot in the corporate environment themselves, but at the beginning of our careers we are lulled into a false sense of security that the larger the company or well known the brand, the better the job role.

This could not be further from the truth. Absolutely there are some notorious corporations out there that you will certainly benefit from having on your CV, but that is not always the case. Often in the larger corporations, you are a small cog in a big machine with no autonomy and no voice – you cannot make a huge difference and you will grow increasingly frustrated by politics and red tape.

As an Executive, you have to give so much of yourself to that one business. Instead, you should really be considering:

  • What is their market proposition? Do they have product market fit? Will it sell?

  • What is their company mission? Do you believe in it yourself? Will prospects believe in it?

  • How are they funded? Are they pre-profit? Who are the investors? (That’s not to say you should disregard an early stage start-up because they do not have a huge amount of money in the bank – arguably you will gain more experience in 6 months with them than 6 years at another organisation – but, if you happen to have three mortgages, three kids in private school and a rather expensive shopping habit, I would say perhaps an early stage-start-up isn’t right for you…)

Social scene VS company culture and values

As we kickstart our careers, we are often thrown into brand new cities and away from our social support bubble of family and friends from home or university. Meeting new people and forming new connections is – quite rightly – really important to us. And – let’s face it – we are earning more than we ever have and want to have fun. Pot noodles have been upgraded to sushi. You can’t imagine how you managed life before a free Prosecco tap.

However, as we progress our lives and careers, having a busy work social calendar is not a priority. What does matter is the overall culture of a business and the values that underpin it. Ask an employer what their culture really means to them – you will be able to recognise whether they are just fancy words written on the wall, or whether they truly live and breathe their values. You also want to make sure that your work colleagues are not just people you could go to the pub with, but they align to the same values as you because when you are all working towards the same goal, this proves incredibly meaningful.

Other things to consider

Who is the Founder / CEO / “The Boss”

As a senior Executive within a business – whether you are Head Of, VP or C-Suite – you will either directly report into or have a lot of involvement with the company’s Founder/CEO. Without making the interview process sound like speed dating, if you find the right person, it can be a beautiful working 'relationship'. If there is a clash in terms of working styles, priorities or values, your job can become a constant uphill battle. There are a few things you should consider:

  • Do you align? This person will be as big a part of your life as your own mother. To work this closely with somebody and to work effectively together to achieve the same goal, your values and views need to align.

  • How do they like to work/manage? Does that compliment your working style?

  • Are they ready for you? Often senior Executives are brought into a business because the business is out-growing the Founder and it’s time for them to pass the baton over to individual specialists. However, sometimes Founders are not ready to ‘let go’ of their baby – this is to be expected and it does not happen overnight – but you should be able to assess whether the Founder recognises the need for you in the business or not, and if you feel that you will be valued there.

Does this opportunity fit in with me

So often we ask ourselves, “Will I fit in with the company? Am I what the company needs? Am I good enough for the role?”

When actually, we should be asking ourselves: “Does this job fit in with my life? Is it right for me and my family?”

Whether you are married with five children or single and living alone, you have a personal life and a prerogative to be healthy and happy - and no job should come before that.

As an Executive in any business, the days of doing 9-5 with no stress are long gone. Therefore you need to consider a) what the job will demand of you and b) whether you are at the point in your life when you can offer that to the business.

Do not rush and go with your gut

As a headhunter in the executive search space, I often approach candidates when they are not actively looking, but would consider moving for the right role. If that is the case, take your time – it is OK to be picky. You are not desperately unhappy where you are and so now is the time to be very selective about your next move.

Even if you are actively looking, do not feel pressured to jump at the first job offer you have. The uncertain times we are in may make you feel like there are not many opportunities out there so you must snap up the first thing, but that could not be further from the truth. The market has picked up hugely and it is only getting stronger. You will also only find yourself back in the same position you were 6 months earlier, looking for another role because that one did not work out – and deep down, you knew in your gut it wasn’t right for you.

Life is changing. The working world is changing.

If we can take one positive thing from the pandemic, it is how we are now confident to put our happiness and mental and physical health first, above any job – and employers are recognising that too.

If we look back at how we have viewed our careers over the past 50 years, we have gone in full cycle. A job used to be for life – something steady and reliable. We then went to the opposite extreme, with the average tenure in a role being circa. 18 months, but within those 18 months we would sell our soul to it, reach burn out by week one and employers would still be demanding more from us.

Now things have changed. Although no job is for life, a job is a huge part of our lives that needs serious consideration. At the same time, we are also human beings and happiness comes above everything else.

107 views0 comments


bottom of page