Faculty Advisor: Career Change Assessment

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Q. I am considering making a career change and have two opportunities in addition to my current position. I'm at a stalemate trying to decide which way to proceed. Do you have any tips on how to evaluate potential opportunities?

The first thing you should do is answer the question: “What is my current job lacking and what’s missing that leaves me feeling unfilled?" Once you are satisfied that it’s time to make a move, there are a number of things that you need to consider, aside from the new title and compensation, that could significantly impact your decision. I would advise you to approach the decision by taking an objective look at all of the possible ramifications that could result when deciding on a change. Do your due diligence on the basics of the organization or organizations you are considering (type of company, size of company, public or privately owned, etc.) -- but also take the time to compare the pros and cons of the move from a personal, professional and corporate vantage point.

On the personal level, aside from the obvious considerations such as location, housing, and schools, think about personal likes, dislikes and needs. Think about proximity to relatives and friends and the impact this move will have on you and your family. Recreational and social conveniences and a sense of community will play an key role in how well your family adjusts to the new life situation and this, in turn, will have a significant impact on how well you will be able to adapt in your new role. What does the organization offer regarding vacation time needed to continue to spend time with your family? Determine what the practices are regarding time off for family issues and potential illnesses. What about the commute? And what are the expectations and requirements around traveling that translate to time away from family?

Some questions to consider from a professional standpoint include compensation, bonus program, benefits, and the like. But also consider the cost of living for a new location. What does the relocation package look like? From a staffing standpoint, you may walk into a well-oiled organization that has a great staff; however, be prepared and ready to deal with resistant or adversarial staff members. In other words, think about the pros and cons of as many aspects of the job itself as possible and decide if it fits with your personal style and what you have in mind for your career goals.

Also very important is the stability and corporate image of the new company. Get as many answers as possible about its organizational structure and culture. Do the business units and senior management value security’s role? What is the level of communication among these groups? Are there guidelines and procedures in place for progression from within?

I recommend that you start a chart that lists these above elements and any others that are important to you and then score them based upon your personal values and professional goals. This will give you a visual upon which to base your decision. We are currently working on a tool to help evaluate opportunities and make decisions. Stay tuned by checking back at contact@secleader.com.

Response provided by Bob Hayes, Security Executive Council Managing Director.

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