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Keeping Your Job Options Open: Deciding When It’s Time to Act

by Stacy May

Picture this: You’re gainfully employed. You like your company. You get along with your peers. Your team loves you. Things are going well, and you can’t complain. 

Then you hear the “ping” of a LinkedIn notification. The message invites you to discuss a new job opportunity that sounds unexpectedly intriguing. A phone conversation is scheduled, and suddenly, you hear yourself saying over the phone, “I’m not actively looking for a new job but I’m keeping my options open.” Your response to even consider a different position surprises you.

What does it mean to “Keep my job options open?”

It’s human nature to want to keep your options open. That’s why we see so many talented candidates stuck in a position of optionality – having options and possibilities, without the obligations. But if you don’t thoroughly think through and act intentionally on your options, you may be missing out on incredible opportunities. 

As a recruiter, it is my job to dig deep with potential candidates to get to the core reasons why they may be keeping their options open. I help walk through the job change process, decipher the pros and cons of making a career change, and help candidates with the next steps to act on their decision.

When is acceptance of my current work situation the answer?

An alternative option to making a job or career switch is by adjusting to your job. Sometimes, a new role takes time to get accustomed to, or, if you’ve been in a role for the long-term, can go through periods of seeming lackluster or stagnant. 

If this is the case, it may improve your daily satisfaction to embrace an activity or hobby outside of work that you enjoy. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Do you work to live or live to work?” There are plenty of situations where work may not be the main place you receive fulfillment.

However, the fact remains, we spend a significant amount of time at our jobs. Our jobs can teach us a lot about ourselves, and build our skills for the future. Therefore, it’s important to talk to your supervisor if any changes can be made to help improve your satisfaction, such as a change in responsibilities, a new project, or opportunities for growth. 

How do you know when it’s time to act and pursue a different job or career?

Many employees have found success working with management to improve their situation. Unfortunately, for many others, their situation doesn’t improve.

If this sounds familiar to you, don’t wait for circumstances to change. You need to act.

But acting may not necessarily mean making a job change right away. 

Another course of action is to look for a new job that may meet more of your needs and increase your overall satisfaction in the workplace. You can take an active approach to this by searching job boards, connecting with professionals in your network, and asking them about their careers. It’s important to take some time to consider what’s important to you in your next role. All of these are action steps you can take before you make any final decisions to leave your current position.

When should I commit to a job change?

Finally, if you are considering making a job change, keeping your options open can be healthy if you keep focused on the “why” and whether you really are ready and willing to act. Dig deep into your desires and list out where you want to see yourself a few years from now. If your dreams are clear to you, pursue them! If you decide it’s best to stay at your current job for the time being, keep focused on being the best at what you do there. 

The question I often hear about optionality is, “Does keeping my options open mean I lack commitment?” In some circumstances, a lack of commitment may be the case. However, optionality in a career change does not usually signify a lack of commitment but rather a feeling of unfulfillment in your current position. Reflecting on why you want to change your position and whether this is the right time to do so will help you decide whether it’s time to act.

Versique can help!

Regardless of your current work situation, networking and talking with peers, recruiters, and other companies is a powerful professional practice. It can keep you sharp on career and market trends, what’s happening in the business world, and what it takes to get to the next level in your career. Networking can also spur new ideas for how you want to shape your current job to make it more meaningful. 

Whether you’re ready to act or still deciding whether it’s the right time to make a job change, Versique is here for you. Contact us so we can connect you with our dedicated and professional team. We’re here to help you take that next step!

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