The grass isn’t alway greener… lessons from a recent job change

If you’ve ever discussed changing jobs with someone you’ll have heard the phrase the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I recently learnt this lesson the hard way and want to share my experience with others in an attempt to help not make the mistakes I did.

I worked as the Global Principal Architect within the Professional Services Team at AppSense prior to the LANDESK acquisition. Following the acquisition the function I performed wasn’t a role on their organisation chart and as a result my role was made redundant. I then joined an Australian Insurance company within its European Operations division as a Technical Consultant.

The role was a good one and I had a brilliant manager however the organisation outsources operational tasks to a managed service provider so found I spent a lot of my directing traffic. This meant that I spent a lot of my time telling people how to fix issues or what they should be doing and less time actually doing things. At the same time I wasn’t involved in any forward looking projects so found myself feeling a little stagnant. Anyone who knows me will know this is not my idea of fun. I like being involved in things and getting my hands dirty whenever I can. This coupled with a ridiculous annual train fare led to me look elsewhere.

I secured a consulting role at a billion dollar technology company that are best known for the WAN acceleration capabilities. I would be a delivery consultant for their user experience monitoring toolset. The role sounded interesting because it was a good mix of customers of different scales ranging from a few hundred end users right up to a few hundred thousand users. This meant a wide variety of projects for me to get involved on and continue developing my skillset.

Sadly half way through my first day I realised that I’d been completely misled. The original hiring manager had been replaced by another manager and the entire consulting division restructured at the same time. As a result the services manager had a completely different view on what my role would be than what I interviewed for and unfortunately the new role was not one which I was willing or able to do. In essence I’d replaced an extortionate train fare for a five to six hour daily commute. With all the best will in the world, I’d rather have less money in the bank and three to four hours a day to spend with my family. The result is that after six weeks with this company I was left with no option but to tender my resignation and find another opportunity.

The lessons that I learnt from this experience and want to share are:

    1. Stay in contact with the hiring manager and human resources team throughout your notice period. My notice period was three months and in hindsight I should have been contacting the hiring managed fortnightly just to touch base and as soon as I caught wind of the change re-engaged the Human Resources team. If major restructures or changes suddenly take place re-evaluate your options. You might be better off taking a step back and requesting a meeting (or interview) with the new manager. It could be that you and the new manager get on like a house on fire and everything is perfect. Conversely you could end up in my situation where there is no way you can work with the new manager. At this point in the process you still have options so don’t be afraid to exercise them.
    2. Research the hiring manager prior to accepting the role. For me red flags will be people with no previous management experience, people who have previously been project managers and “having a go” at managing people and people who change jobs often.
    3. Make sure you fully understand what the hiring manager wants and expects of you. Had I known I’d be expected to endure a five or more hour commute daily I’d never have entertained the role in the first place.
    4. Think clearly about your reasons for leaving your currently role. If your motives are purely financial you may be better off working for the devil you know than the devil you don’t.
    5. Speak to as many people who work in similar roles within the company and find out about their typical week. If that aligns with your expectations then you are probably going to be okay.
    6. No matter what happens… NEVER burn your bridges before, during or after you tender your resignation. Burning your bridges won’t make you any friends and can only come back and bite you later on.

Its not all doom and gloom though… sometimes the grass is greener and things happen for a reason.