Leaving so soon?

Dear Joan:
I recently (about two months ago) started a new job after being employed in the same position for nine years.  I like this position overall, but as I'm learning more about the way things are done, it confirms my thoughts when I started there that I'd be looking to move on after a year or two.
 
Even more recently I learned that the job I really wanted (same title, different organization) is now open.  I'd like to apply, but wonder about how it will look for me to be applying for another job after only two months on my current job.  Further, if I were to get the job, I'm not sure how my current employer (especially my boss who seems as though he would consider it treason that I'd apply elsewhere so soon) and the community (they are a small town, and did a front page article on me when I started--but I don't live there-I live in the largest city in the region and commute) would perceive it.
 
The job I really want will likely not become available again anytime soon.  I work in a field where people tend not to move around much, at least in the Midwest, so this may be my one and only opportunity to make my interest known (I am nearing my mid-40's and beginning to think ahead to retirement). What advice would you have for me?
 
Answer:
I say go for it…with one caveat: you must insist that the second organization keep your candidacy confidential. If they can’t agree to that upfront, apply at your own risk. You can place a call to the hiring manager and explain your situation and explain that their job is the one you really want but didn’t think would come open. I see no reason why he or she wouldn’t grant complete confidentiality. However, if the second job is in the same small town as your current job, it may be more difficult to guarantee confidentiality even if it is promised. People will see you coming and going for interviews and the cat will likely get out of the bag. For the sake of this reply I will assume the second job isn’t in the same town, since you didn’t mention it.
 
I think you would always kick yourself for not applying. Furthermore, if you are already saying that this is not a place you want to stay for long, there are warning signs you have seen after only two months on the job. How will you feel after six months on the job, if things get worse? After all, now you are only seeing a little part of the picture while you are in your honeymoon. If you are desperate to leave in six to nine months, you will regret not going for this opportunity. If you go for this job and don’t get it, you may be more committed to doing what it will take to be successful where you are instead of always wondering.
 
Let’s examine the actual risk. First of all, it is not treason to apply for another job so soon. They haven’t invested very much in your development and you haven’t had much opportunity to get results. Also, they still have a fresh list of candidates who interviewed for the job. The front-page article on you will be embarrassing for a little while but they will get over it. This kind of thing happens, so you wouldn’t be doing something unheard of or unethical.  If you do get the job say, “I appreciate the opportunity you have given me, but that job is larger in scope and responsibilities. I regret the timing of this but it wasn’t available when I was interviewing for this job.”
 
If your boss really does feel you would be defecting and a traitor, you have to ask yourself if you really want to work for him. A good leader would be very disappointed and even irritated, but wouldn’t begrudge you a bigger and better job. If you left in one year would it be any different? Or would it be worse?
 
You also need to realistically calculate whether he can do any damage. Rational or not, if he does find out and makes your life miserable or fires you, does that put you in a serious bind? Could you land on your feet and get another job? Is there any employment agreement or a non-compete agreement? If so, check with an attorney before making a move.
 
In the final analysis, I don’t think the risk is great enough to prevent you from applying. Last time I checked, we still live in a free country and you can go wherever you want. Good luck!


Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
 
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