A client of mine was asked to take on a new role and asked me what he should consider in making the decision.

We spend most of our waking hours at work. So when you’re in that fortunate position of deciding whether you should say “yes” to a new role or job offer, it’s important to get it right.

In fact, it’s a golden opportunity.

But it’s up to you to do the “due diligence” – the clear-headed thinking and research to make sure you have the information you need to make the best possible decision.

Five Key Areas to Consider

To help you do that, here are some questions to ask yourself as you consider the following five key areas:

  1. The Day-to-Day Job
  2. Your Reporting Line
  3. The Value Proposition
  4. The History
  5. The Fit

The Day-to-Day Job

Once you get past the initial joy of being wanted (plus an impressive title and pay package, hopefully!), what you will be doing day in, day out matters a great deal.

With that in mind, here are some questions worth asking yourself.

  • What will I be doing?
    Ideally these are things that you enjoy and that make the best use of your talents and build your capabilities.
  • Who will I be interacting with?
    Your teammates, colleagues and clients play a key role in how much you’ll enjoy what you do.
  • What is the environment like?
    This includes the physical space(s) you’ll be occupying as well as the cultural norms. Ideally, get a chance to at least walk through the office or areas you’ll be frequenting. See how you feel.

Your Reporting Line

This is about understanding who will determine your pay and promotion, and also about where you’ll be sitting within what I call the “power structure” of the organization and the industry.

Your reporting line and where your role slots into the organization matter. This is what will drive your ability to be recognized for your excellent performance, and ultimately to develop your own clout.

Here are some questions to help figure that out.

  • Who will I report to? Do I trust that person? How are they regarded in the organization?
    You need to “hire” your boss carefully because the only way to “fire” your boss is to quit. Since no boss is perfect, what matters is to figure out whether you are compatible, whether they are trustworthy, and whether they are respected enough in the organization to be effective in advocating for you.
  • Who (else) is sponsoring me?
    When you go into a new role, it’s important that someone (preferably quite senior and powerful) has an interest in your success and will give you “air cover” or support as you establish yourself. While your boss can and should play that role, there may be someone even more senior in the organization who has been part of the recruiting process and can help as well. It’s always good to have more than one senior person in your corner.
  • How is the area positioned within the organization?
    Generally, it’s better to be in an area that’s respected internally, and on a positive trajectory whether that’s in size, stature or importance. For example, in one organization, finance may be seen as core to the business while in another it’s a tolerated support function. Just know what you’re getting into and how that affects your ability to deliver on your responsibilities as well as enjoy and feel proud of what you do.
  • To what extent is my function important in the industry or marketplace?
    For example, are you learning how to do something that is likely to become obsolete in a year or two? Or is there likely to be an ongoing need for what you do?

The Value Proposition

  • What do I bring to the table?
    The extent to which you are using your best strengths and skills – the ones you more enjoy using – will determine how much you will shine. And it’s not just your strengths and skills that matter. It’s also the energy, enthusiasm, experience and wisdom you may bring. Getting clear on your part of the value proposition and what makes you a great candidate also helps you understand your negotiating leverage.
  • What does the job bring to me?
    In addition to the day-to-day enjoyment we’ve already talked about, it’s useful to get a complete picture of the positives to you of taking on this role. Consider these criteria, and figure out which matter most to you at this stage of your career:
    • Future career opportunities – where might this job lead next? To what extent is it a stepping stone to bigger and better roles? What have others gone on to do?
    • Professional development – what skills will I develop? What experiences will I gain? Who will I be learning from and are there people who are likely to mentor and sponsor me? Will I have the degree of challenge I want?
    • Visibility and connections – what relationship circles will you gain access to? How does this build your network?
    • Autonomy – to what extent will you be able to manage your own time? What degree of flexibility will you have and in which areas?

The History

It’s useful to understand what’s happened to get you to this position of being considered for this role. Consider this part of the context, and it’s usually important to understand the context you’ll be stepping into.

  • Whose idea was it? If someone is asking you to take on this role, why? And do they have the authority to hire you for the role?
  • What happened to the predecessor? What have they gone on to do?
  • Am I their first choice? If not, does that matter? What was it about the other person that made them a stronger candidate and to what extent might that get in the way of my success?
  • Who would likely do this job if I said no? If the next choice is someone far junior to you, that’s useful information about the role.

The Fit

Finding a good fit is fundamental to having a successful career. If an organization or group is a poor fit, it will be a struggle just to keep up. Taking a job in an organization or setting that’s a poor fit is like flying into strong headwinds. You’re unlikely to get as far, it will take much longer to get there, and you’ll be burning fuel all along the way.

  • How does this fit with my career goals?
  • How does this fit with my personal and family goals?
  • How does this fit with my values?
  • Does this fit with who I am and what motivates me?

Three Closing Thoughts

There are three more thoughts that can help as you make your final decision.

  1. Consider the opportunity cost
    Every time we choose to take on one role, there are other opportunities that we have to say “no” to. So the Value Proposition – and indeed the entire package – has to be worth it not only on an absolute basis, but also relative to your other options. And include your current role as one of those other options.
  2. You’ve got to trust your gut
    Once you do all this clear headed thinking and assessment, it’s time to step back and ask yourself, “What’s my instinct about this? What’s my gut feeling?” That’s where the analysis (“head”) and our feelings (“heart”) come together to form our most informed instinct (“gut”).
  3. Remember that life is short
    And it’s up to you to put yourself in a position to enjoy what you do as much of the time as possible.

I hope these considerations help you make your big decision so that your new role has the best chance of being positive and energizing. One where you can truly shine.

And remember, there’s always room for negotiation. Which perhaps will be the topic of a future blog post…

Leave a comment below and let me know which of these considerations is most important for you in deciding whether you should take on that new role.