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Key Considerations When Evaluating a Job Opportunity

Deciding to pursue a new job opportunity can be both necessary and positive for professional growth, but that doesn’t make it an easy decision.  

When deciding whether a new job opportunity is the right career move, it is important to evaluate past and present work experiences, professional strengths and weaknesses, and companies or industries of interest. This will help save time and minimize stress throughout the interview process.  

It is also crucial to consider the nature and duration of the positions available. Project-based or interim opportunities can offer unique advantages, such as the chance to develop new skills, gain diverse experiences and expand your professional network. These roles often provide flexibility and can serve as steppingstones to permanent positions within the company or industry—if that’s what you want. Additionally, they can be a strategic way to transition into new fields or specialties, allowing you to test the waters without a long-term commitment. Assessing these aspects thoroughly will ensure that you make informed decisions that align with your career goals and personal circumstances. 

For a smoother job transition, whether into a full-time or temporary position, consider these key factors when evaluating a new career opportunity.

Evaluate Past and Current Work Experiences

Reflecting on what has led to the decision to pursue a new job opportunity is an important first step. Ask yourself the following questions to help zero in on what is influencing your decision to make a move: 

  • What is causing unhappiness in the current position?  
  • What specifically about the current role is unsatisfying?  
  • What actions can be taken to improve the situation? 
  • Are these issues impactful enough to entertain new opportunities? 

A recent Vaco LinkedIn poll revealed that over 50% of respondents consider mentors and networking the most significant factors in their professional advancement. If, after answering the questions above, you find that your concerns stem from internal relationships or a lack of mentorship and networking opportunities, there may be internal remedies available. This could involve discussing your challenges with your recruiter, your manager or volunteering for extra tasks that could help you forge new internal connections and access to mentorship opportunities. 

It’s important not to underestimate the value and goodwill that has been built with a current employer. Instead of leaving, there may be an opportunity to work on a new project or take on a new position that can better utilize and advance your skills. But, if after some self-reflection, you determine the issues are too systemic, it is likely best to pursue a new opportunity elsewhere. 

Identify Strengths and Weaknesses Through Professional Networking

If you decide to pursue an opportunity with a new company, it is critical to take time to identify professional strengths, weaknesses and blind spots before beginning the application process. Don’t think this process has to be completed alone, though.  

An important step of this process is effectively leveraging your professional network, like the one you have likely built on LinkedIn. Find a colleague, friend or mutual connection that is working in the industry of interest and politely ask to set up a time to speak with them about their work and industry experiences. Once you have set up a time to speak, prioritize asking the following questions: 

  • What skills are required to work on the same or similar projects? What hard and soft skills do they feel matter for the work you’re interested in doing? 
  • What do they wish they’d known earlier—either in their career or before signing on with the current company? 
  • What blind spots did they have before coming into their position? 

The Q1 Vaco Talent Pulse Report found that 44% of over 5,000 respondents said that they are currently employed but are looking for a new job, highlighting the importance of making connections in a competitive hiring landscape. Initiating these conversations and creating new connections will help expand professional networks and can lead to future employment opportunities. On a personal level, it helps paint a clearer picture of strengths to lean into and weaknesses or blind spots to prioritize addressing in preparation of changing jobs. 

Research Companies and Industries of Interest

After identifying specific companies or industries of interest, taking the time to research them is essential. This will provide impactful insights into company culture, typical pay and benefits that are offered and how the business generally operates. Addressing the following questions while conducting research will quickly inform whether the targeted role or industry may be a good fit: 

  • What are your top priorities for your next role?  
  • What are must-haves and nice-to-haves, per the company’s job postings?  
  • How does this opportunity align with your career goals? 

Coupling research with an honest personal assessment will help identify and prioritize opportunities that make the most sense based on your skills and how you’d like to apply them.  

A recent Vaco webinar on DEI in the workplace highlighted the importance of organizational resources and support, where 92% of respondents to a Work in America survey said that working for an organization that values their emotional and psychological well-being is important to them. This is an important item to note, since it can be common for workers to decide that they would rather stay in their current project or role after interviewing for a new company given the interview process, available opportunities, company values and trajectory. 

Taking a holistic approach to identifying career aspirations and professional goals is essential in avoiding false starts, reducing stress and minimizing wasted time around job searches and interviewing. It can be easy to start thinking about the future and the excitement that new challenges and new opportunities can bring, but it is equally as important to consider past and present experiences and current conditions, too. This inclusive process assists in clearly defining professional goals and evaluating new job opportunities, even if that means staying on the project or in the role you were considering leaving. 


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