He joined an up-and-coming startup and got the CMO title and “executive staff” prestige he was looking for. However, within 5 months, he unceremoniously left the company after never really getting traction or having an impact at the new company.
- The “Big Pay Day”– It’s easy to get caught up in all the hype about your own success and role you played in your current company’s success – anxious to “monetize” your growing skill-set and contribution quickly. More money, more options, more responsibility and a bigger title at a new employer are hard to turn away from.
- Just give me the ball! – The thrill of making game-changing decisions that dramatically impact the business gets your endorphins surging. However, the intense desire to finally be the “big cheese” and to “do it your way” can be a seed of impatience and even impulsiveness.
- The grass is greener on the other side – Working at your current company for any period of time provides you with first-hand knowledge of all the warts and wrinkles. There are likely varying degrees of frustration on things you feel should be done faster or in a different way. As frustrations reach intolerable levels, you’re ready to make a move - perhaps prematurely.
- Follow the Leader – Having a great manager is one of the most important factors in your success and job satisfaction. So it’s natural to want to follow that manager to her next role. The danger here is that you are easily swayed to join the company based on your manager’s reasons, not yours.
- Money Doesn’t Buy Success – Financial success is a big motivator in high-tech. But don’t just compare your last paystub with what’s in your new offer letter. Think about your finances over a 3-4 year horizon. Guaranteed cash comp, incentive comp, and options create complex earning potential scenarios. What’s your compensation growth potential in each role? What about things like employee stock purchase plan? Matching 401(k) programs? What are the growth prospects for each company and how will that affect each company's valuation? However, while figuring out which role and company puts you in the best position to make more money is an important task, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t survive through your vesting schedule i.e. like Colin.
- Don’t believe your own press – It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and ego gratification of being pursued by a new potential employer, but their enthusiasm to recruit you doesn’t mean that it’s the right move. Get objective counsel. Use a trusted resource who doesn’t have any strong connections to your current or prospective employer. Everyone could benefit from getting a unique perspective to evaluate high-tech companies in the Valley and relate that to your goals and skill-set. Let them ask you tough questions to help clarify your thinking and get you away from the emotion and excitement frenzy.
- Patience is a virtue – Recruiters and potential employers will push you hard to make a decision quickly, maybe even with an “exploding” (expiring) offer letter. Those timelines are usually artificial so you should negotiate the decision timeframe that works for you and set expectations up front when you know the offer is coming. Switching companies is a huge decision and you should take the appropriate time you need to consider your options. You will have a different perspective when you have enough time to think it through “away from work.” You should assess whether a few changes in your current workplace would make you want to stay. In other words, if you could outlive the situation that is frustrating you (e.g. a bad manager, difficult co-workers, less than exciting work, etc.), being patient would pay off.
- Know what you “don’t know” – You know all of the unattractive things about your current workplace. Challenging personalities, bad decisions that have been made, frustrating processes and norms. You don’t know any of those things about the prospective employer, but you should know that they exist. Their special warts and wrinkles will inevitably surface as soon as your “honeymoon period” in the new role is over. Even if you’re the one calling the shots, “wiping the slate clean” in a new company doesn’t guarantee that everything will go your way, so be careful that you remain objective about the new opportunity in front of you. Moreover, investigate. Reach out to your LinkedIn network to see who’s worked there, can give you direct feedback, political insights, and if you are replacing someone, why did that person fail?