Nov 10 / Priya Santhanam

Is It Time To Move On?

2020 has been an incredible time for many of us to reflect on what we truly want from our lives and careers and make big life decisions that influence our happiness and well-being. (…and to binge-watch a lot of fun shows!).

In 2020, I quit my job (and what I thought would be a 30-year career) at ExxonMobil to accept an opportunity at Amazon, which was completely outside my comfort zone. It turns out that I’m not alone, and around one in three U.S. workers changed jobs in the past year (Source). Of course, this is a combination of lay-offs and people choosing to move on to new opportunities. The latter can be split into those who actively pursued new jobs (“Push”) and others who recruiters contacted via platforms such as LinkedIn to fill a role (“Pull”). In this article, I’ll share tangible tips to help you figure out how to make this critical career decision on if it is indeed the time to move on, irrespective of whether it is a pull or a push!


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Is it time to move on?

1. Secure your financials

Does it make financial sense to move?

The simplest way to do this is with a table on excel. Look at it from an annual compensation perspective, and extend it to multiple years, especially if the compensation structure is very different in the two jobs you are evaluating. Some companies focus on base pay and stock alone, and others are a combination of base pay, bonus, and restricted stock options that vest over a long period of time. A 3-5 year projection will help establish a fair comparison of the two opportunities. If you are relocating to another city, factor in the cost of living accordingly so you can get an accurate estimate of your expenditure and savings.

A tangential benefit of performing this exercise is to get data that helps you with negotiation. If you love the opportunity, but the $$ doesn’t do justice to the expected cost of living, now you have specific numbers at hand that can help you ask for exactly what you want as part of the negotiation exercise!

Pro Tip: If you are a super planner and data-driven individual, go ahead and lay out a 20–30-year financial projection. This comes with certain assumptions around your pay hike, how well the stocks might do over the years, the interest rate for savings, pension, 401k match, etc. If possible, be conservative in your calculations, but not overly conservative that you unintentionally skew the data and miss out on the opportunity. A key component here is how you see yourself growing over time since that directly influences your compensation. Read on more about this in # 2 below!

2. Realistically assess your own peak potential 

What skills do you see yourself gaining, and what roles will you end up in?  

If you spent at least 2-3 years at the job you are in, you should have gained a reasonable understanding of your growth potential in the company. This is a culmination of your aspirations and goals, as well as how the company perceives you. Write down what you think your peak potential will be in the company you are in right now. Do you see yourself as a CEO 10-20 years from now? An individual contributor? Perhaps a  technical advisor? Play out a couple of different scenarios and write an associated compensation that you think this position will give you to complete step # 1. If you do not have clarity on your growth potential, reach out to your manager and ask for input.  

Now, think about the new job offer or potential job you are chasing. Think beyond the role you see for yourself in the new company today and consider what growth will look like. I am not a fan of limiting myself by thinking of titles or job roles and prefer to consider skills and business areas I can grow in. This automatically provides the necessary clarity on the type of roles and evolution over time. Do you like the potential opportunities you mapped out? If the answer is a resounding NO, you may not be ready to jump the ship yet!

3. Consider the family situation

Does your move make sense for the family?

It is a fairly straightforward consideration – Will your family be amenable to moving? Is it possible to line up daycare/school for the kid(s)? Will you be closer or far away from extended family? If it’s a dual-career family, will your partner be able to find a position at the new location?

If you are applying for jobs voluntarily, this is the first step in the process. Narrow down geographic regions your family would be willing to go to, so you can start your job search limited to these locations. If you are experiencing the pull and are contacted by a recruiter, be honest about your availability and willingness to move (if required) ahead of the process, so you don’t waste your own or the potential employer’s time. We live in a world where remote jobs are more and more common, so it is worth gaining this clarity early on in the process.

4. Assess your own interest and motivation 

Do you love it or hate it where you are now?

This is a “soft” metric that is extremely critical in making this decision.
Are you happy to go to work? How does your job make you feel? Does it give you a sense of fulfillment? Do you have a nagging feeling about your career that something is missing? Do you find yourself motivated and inspired by your colleagues, or do they pull you down? Do you find yourself just showing up for the paycheck – if yes, does that give you contentment, or do you want more for yourself?

Data is powerful, but the narrative is critical. If all the other quantitative factors point towards one direction and the honest introspection confirms this finding, that is a fantastic position to be in. However, if the two sets of information are conflicting, it can be a challenging decision to make. Find someone you trust and can discuss this with and start with the questions outlined above. Talking through things can be a great way to arrive at an appropriate answer.

Change begins at the end of your comfort zone. - Roy T. Bennett


If you are debating if you should move, the fact that the thought even came to you means something. Trust your instinct. If you are not moving because one of the four factors outlined above did not check out in that favor, that’s okay. However, if it is because you fear the unknown or worry about starting over or change in general, remember that change is, after all, the only constant in life! 


Write to us and tell us what your key considerations to decide if it’s time to move on are? 

If you have a personal story and lessons learned to share about how you’re owning your career, write to us at richa@pinkcareers.com.

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Priya is a chemical engineer by training. She received her bachelors degree in India and masters and PhD in the US. She has held a gamut of roles at ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company over the last 7 years including working in the lab, troubleshooting and designing for operations, building strategies for business development, software product management and teaching technical courses to early career engineers. She currently works as the Sr. Program Manager of IP Operations at Amazon.

Priya has published over 10 scientific papers, holds 3 patents and has presented at over 20 technical conferences.

She is a mom of two young children and is constantly hustling to find that coveted personal life - work life balance! In addition to engineer and mom duties, she loves to read, write and watch movies.
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WANT TO LEVEL UP YOUR LEADERSHIP SKILLS?

Check out Pinkcareers' Incubator Leadership Accelerator, our 6-months program for new (and aspiring) female managers who want to level up their leadership skills and own their career success.

OUR NOVEMBER COHORT IS FULL.
NEXT COHORT STARTS Q1 2022.
SAVE YOUR SPOT!

Discover your authentic leadership style, get comfortable with self-advocacy, enlist sponsors, and become a confident contributor to your career success.

Save your spot now!
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