Career Power-UpCareer Skills

Are You Ready to Make a Career Move?

By Paige Kassalen

The Great Resignation is something that has affected all of us. You may have seen colleague after colleague put in their two-week notice or heard your friends talking about their busy schedule of job interviews. All these actions are starting to make you think, “Should I be looking for the next step in my career, as well?”

This topic is important for us to talk about because we spend a good portion of our lives working, and being fulfilled in our roles will impact our lives in a positive way. Since I am happy in my current role, I feel like it is a good time to share my words of wisdom on when it’s time to make a career move.

Don’t Jump Just to Jump

When people talk about being unhappy in their current job, this is always the first piece of advice that I share. Similar to how you should wait 24 hours to respond to something when you are angry, you shouldn’t jump to a new job just to get out of the situation you are currently in.

You need to take time to properly understand why you are feeling a certain way in your current job, and then make sure to properly vet your potential future employers for the same issues. A range of reasons can make a job stressful — toxic culture, mundane tasks, value misalignment, or even a mismatch in passions.

By investing time to think through exactly what it is that will satisfy you in your next role, you will reduce the chance that you end up in this situation again. If you just jump to jump, you most likely will have to continue to jump before you feel fulfilled.

Think About What You Value Most

When I graduated from college, I had a list of my top career values. If I look at my top values now, they have shifted slightly. This shift is completely normal because depending on your stage of life, you might need different things from your career.

You might value job stability, a higher paycheck, opportunity for building a solid foundation, brand name… the list can go on and on. The key here is to understand — and be honest about — what you value the most, and latch onto it.

Doing this will help you narrow the scope of your job search, and remind you of the reason why you made certain choices if you start feeling stressed or frustrated at work.

Look for Opportunities That Align With an Overarching Interest

When I was looking for my first job, I thought finding roles with “electrical engineer” in the description was all I needed to worry about. I soon realized that there is so much more that you should think of besides just the exact job title you are looking for.

What industry is the job in? What types of products or services will you be providing? Where are you in the value chain? Where is the company headquartered? These are all questions you should be thinking about as you move into your second, third or fourth jobs.

For example, if you are passionate about autonomous vehicles, you might be happy filling a role in any organization that is working towards that overarching mission. If you care about learning the best-in-class technical strategy, then you should look at companies that are known for their analytical approach.

When you are aligned to more than just a role or a job title, then that helps to ensure that you can grow with the company and not feel the need to make a move once you outgrow the job title.

The process of making a career move takes time, if you want it to stick. Invest the time well in advance to think through what is causing you to jump right now, to avoid needing to make another jump soon after. Spend some time understanding what you currently value the most in your career to narrow and guide you through future frustrating moments at work. Finally, think about your overarching interests, and put yourself in a situation where you can continue to grow within a company.

Paige Kassalen

Paige Kassalen loves to put her creativity to use by solving problems in emerging technical fields, and has been an IEEE member since 2012. After graduating with a degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech in 2015, Kassalen began her career with Covestro LLC. in 2015, and soon became the only American engineer working with Solar Impulse 2, the first solar-powered airplane to circumnavigate the globe. This role landed Kassalen a spot on the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list along with feature articles in Glamour, Fast Company and the Huffington Post. After Solar Impulse, Kassalen has helped Covestro and JPMorgan Chase develop and implement strategies to embrace a range of emerging technology trends from autonomous vehicles to machine learning. In 2020, Kassalen received a Master of Information Systems Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University and now uses her problem-solving skills at an artificial intelligence startup, CrowdAI, where she leads the implementation of computer vision solutions for existing commercial customers.

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