Changing Jobs? The Grass isn't Always Greener!

13 Feb 2021

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It’s been just over eight months since I left Nexmo/Vonage, where I’d been for over four years, and I’ll admit to having spent a few hours reflecting upon my decision to leave. It’s also that time of year when many people seem to get a new job and change companies so now seems like a good time to share some advice and some of my experiences.

When frustrated or tired of a job the most obvious reaction for many is to look for another job at another organisation. Sometimes a change in scenery can be what you need. The grass may be greener on the other side. But, there’s also a chance it won’t be and a move may not always be what you need. So, it’s worth considering alternative options.

Take a Break

Before you make any hasty decisions take some time off from your current role and try not to think about it. This will give your subconscious a chance to really process things. If you need an extended amount of time and if you’ve been at a company for a long time then a sabbatical may be an option. Failing that, and not everyone will be able to do this, you could consider some unpaid leave.

With your mind hopefully relaxed, and if you still feel like a change is required, it’s time to consider your options.

Is the Reason for Moving on Fundamental?

It’s important to ask yourself if you’re moving on for a fundamental reason. For example, do you dislike the company values, mission, goals or culture? These things are very difficult to change unless you are part of the company leadership team. Some teams within organisations can have their own culture, values and mission, and generally, be able to function independently. But, for a team to be successful within a business over a long period there has to be a reasonable alignment between a team and a company. So, unless you see positive leadership changes coming this is probably a scenario where the best thing is to move on.

If you’re considering moving on for reasons other than a fundamental problem with the company you work for, there are alternatives. Which of these are available will depend on the company but they are worth exploring.

Try a Different Role

If you have a reasonably broad range of skills, the company you work for requires some of your other skills, and another role available, trying that different role may be an option. Some companies may invest in retraining you so that you can take on that role.

For example, within Developer Relations it may be possible to move from Developer Advocacy, where there’s a requirement for a broad range of skills, to something more focused like Developer Education.

Propose an Alternative Role

If there are things that you want to do that you’re not presently getting to do why not see if you can create an alignment between the company, team and your goals?

Back in 2010 while working as an engineering team lead at Caplin Systems, I decided I wanted to focus on real-time web technologies. I liked the people I worked with and the company I worked for was progressive and supportive. So, I spoke to the leadership team about my goals and we came up with the idea of putting our real-time technology in the cloud and making a hosted service available to developers. This created a new role for me and began my journey into Developer Relations.

Change Teams

Can you change teams? This is likely only going to be an option at larger organisations where there are multiple teams with the same role. But moving teams, working with new people and taking on new challenges could be the change that you need.

Maybe the Grass Will be Greener

Once you’ve considered all the alternatives you may decide it really is time to move on.

When I decided to move on from Nexmo/Vonage I was sure it was the right move but, over the past eight months, I have had the occasional moment where I wondered if I made a mistake. I’m very proud of the Platform & Developer Experience team (including DevRel) we’d built at Nexmo/Vonage and many of the people in the wider organisation were nice.

However, upon reflection, I did make the right decision. For me it was fundamental: I felt that the company was going in the wrong direction from both a cultural and product perspective. I also looked at the VP (in all but title) job that - through the team’s success - I’d ended up in and it was not the sort of role I wanted within Vonage at that time. So I discussed the situation with my colleagues, with leadership, wrote up a job spec for my successor and decided it was time to move on.

So, if you’re reading this because you’ve been wondering if the grass will be greener, please do ensure you’ve considered all your options before making your decision. Whatever you decide, good luck! 🍀

Photo by Dimitri Houtteman on Unsplash