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4 Things to Consider When Considering a Career Change

July 26, 2013
by Tim Tolan
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It's not all about money; factors to take into account when considering a career change
Tim Tolan

The allure of having multiple organizations compete for your services is both exciting and flattering at the same time. But make no mistake—courting two companies as you look for your next big move can also be a bit dicey. Sure, we all want to believe that our market value is so high that multiple suitors should be bidding against one another to entice us to join their organization. This is exactly how the game is played in professional sports: new employers vying for your attention while you sit back and wait for someone to “show you the money.” Agents are typically shopping for the highest cash bidder in sports; but our role as a senior HCIT executive is much different and more complex, and in this case, money should not be the main driver.

In a candidate-driven job market where there are more opportunities than there are candidates, this sort of scenario is certainly possible as the laws of supply and demand take hold. I happen to believe there is also a serious, and hidden, danger if you’re taking that deep dive to determine your future and destiny based solely on economics. Let’s face it: getting a nice raise for changing teams can be tempting, but at what cost? I always advise candidates to make sure they are evaluating more than just the Almighty Dollar when considering a career change. Too many of us focus our energy on the compensation, leaving out the other critical elements that should be part of your decision.

I’ve talked about it before. Candidates should consider all four Cs of a career change:

  • Culture: What is the culture of the company? During the interview ask and find out what it’s like to work there. Culture is a critical factor in any new job, regardless of compensation. Usually you can get a feel for the culture after several interview visits and while talking to others in the organization. Why not ask about it directly? I would!
  • Career Progression: How will this position match your career goals? Making a move purely for money is not my definition of career progression. How does this role line up with where you want to be in another four or five years? Make sure you check that box!
  • Chemistry: How was the chemistry with the hiring manager? How did you feel when you walked out of his or her office after the interview? Did you connect? Did the conversation seem to have a natural flow, or was it awkward? If so, why do you feel that way? Missing the mark on chemistry can really turn out to be a career nightmare. I have been there, and trust me, it was not fun.
  • Compensation: Lastly, if you feel good about every other facet of the new organization you are considering, usually the compensation discussion comes naturally. Discussing the details on compensation should come last—not first. It should go without saying that if yours is a purely economic decision, you are putting yourself at risk for future regrets about your decision.

I think it’s a great idea to cast a wide net in the job market and assess more than one opportunity. I also believe that if you can check all four of the boxes above, and you are pleased with the other intangibles like location, climate, cost of living, and opportunities for your spouse as well as the quality of the school system, it might be better for you to focus on the opportunity that you believe will give you and your family the most joy. If you are in a position where multiple employers are interested in you and what you bring to the table, that alone should help you validate your true market value.

One more piece of advice: once you decide on which offer is the best choice for you and your family, make your decision and never look back. ◆

Tim Tolan is senior partner at Sanford Rose Associates Healthcare IT practice. He can be reached at or (904) 875-4787. His blog can be found at