How To Change Jobs The Right Way | Alyssa J Freitas: How To Change Jobs The Right Way

July 10, 2019

How To Change Jobs The Right Way

In my June monthly recap I included a photo of me in a new office and announced that I'd left IBM to join Looker. If you've followed along with my IBM journey (both my internship and full time experience) you'd probably think I would never, ever leave the company. And frankly, I thought the day that I'd hand in my resignation would be far in the future too. However, it was the right time for me to make a change and I'm so happy I did.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out how to change jobs the right way. Whether you're looking for your second job out of college or are an old vet, here is what you should keep in mind

This post is going to be part story and part advice for how to navigate looking for a new role. I learned a lot through the process and want to share the things I did well and the things I could have done better. Settle in for a long post :)

First for some background. I was working as an Account Executive at IBM in the Watson Financial Services group. I was sourcing opportunities, working with clients to understand their needs, demonstrating how IBM could add value, creating and negotiating quotes, and closing business. I was working with some of the largest financial institutions in the United States and it was an incredible first opportunity for someone out of college. I am so grateful for all that I learned.

The role was not without its challenges, of course. I realized that I wanted to be in a less remote environment (I did not have an office to go to where I could see teammates, only an office for sales people from across the organization) and I wanted to sell a product that I was more passionate about. It look me a long time and countless conversations with Joe and my family and mentors to finally get to the point of being ready to look elsewhere. I was so attached to the idea of being an IBMer for life and proving myself at the company that I lost sight of my own personal growth, wellbeing, and happiness.

I approached my manager and explained my view and why I decided it was time for me to pursue something new. She was understanding and encouraged me to seek new opportunities internally and externally.

Soon after I spoke with a friend of mine who left IBM and went to work at Google. She suggested I consider a company called Looker. Not even a week later a recruiter reached out to me and I started interviewing. Within a month I had secured a job as an Account Executive and handed in my resignation at IBM. Not even a week later Google announced that they'll be acquiring Looker! So now I'll be working with my friend who turned me on to the company in the first place!

Ok, let's talk about what I did well first and then evaluate what I should have done better.

Transparency with my manager

When I called my manager to let her know that I accepted the job at Looker, it wasn't a surprise. I was looking around internally and externally for a little less than a month before I engaged with Looker, and I had already talked with my manager so she wasn't blindsided. 

Her support and encouragement made this process smooth and, aside from her being awesome, the reason I had this support was because of the strong relationship I'd built with her while in my role. Always trying my best, communicating clearly and consistently, and following through on what I said I was going to do set me up for a successful relationship with my manager. 

Clear criteria for what I wanted in a new role

Knowing what you want is hard and takes time. I was constantly battling the idea of not having enough experience to know what I wanted. However, you know the core things that are important to you. Once I understood what I needed in a new role I was able to communicate that to recruiters, managers internally, and those interviewing me. 

Aside from knowing how much you want to make and your skills, get clear on how you want to develop professionally and what is important enough to make a difference to you. 

Strong handle on how to sell myself

I am very proud that I was hired for my current role. There was a certain number of years of experience that the company had in mind, however through conversations to understand exactly what was needed in the job I was able to demonstrate why my experience was valuable and why the number of years was not as relevant. 

When you are faced with an opportunity where you are not the obvious fit, don't be afraid to ask more questions to understand why your interviewer may be hesitant and be ready to clearly lay out how you can address their concerns. 

One of the best things you can do is ask if they have any reservations. You want the interviewer to leave the meeting with no doubt of your capabilities and the more you can clear up immediately, the better.  

Alright, now it's time to take a look at what I could have done better.

Being upfront when there wasn't a fit

I took many opportunities to interview so I could learn more about what was out there and to continue to hone how I positioned myself. However, I could pretty quickly tell when it wouldn't be a good fit for me. I wish that I would have done a better job at communicating early and putting a stop to opportunities that weren't a match.  

It's not fair to drag out an interview process. The company ends up wasting time and so do you. When your gut tells you something isn't right, thank those interviewing you for the opportunity and respectfully withdraw.

Letting emotions run the show

I had so many high and low moments (mostly low) over the last 6 months when I was falling out of love with IBM, despairing over my crushed dream of being a life long IBMer, deciding to look for something new, and finally making a decision. Tears were shed, family and friends were forced to talk in circles, and I made the process more difficult than it needed to be.

I identified so strongly with my job and felt like a failure for leaving. However, I learned that the stakes are never really as high as we think and in the end you have to focus on what is right for you versus what you perceive others will think of you.

Changing jobs, especially for the first time, is daunting. But you will come out of the experience wiser and in a better position than when you started. 

Have you had a similar experience? I would love to hear what you've done when switching jobs. Are there any other topics you'd like me to delve into? 

-Alyssa J

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