The JMA Guide to Making a Successful Career Move

The JMA Guide to Making a Successful Career Move

26 Jun 24 4mins Jon Midmer

company-highlights talent-management

Every senior executive will almost certainly have to make a major career move at some point. One of the ways we at JMA can make a positive difference in people’s lives is by helping them make the right decision for them, so they can maximise their chances of success. 

Below, I share the most common reasons behind people wanting to make a move, the sort of changes they look for, and how we help them make an informed choice.  

The Most Common Reasons Behind a Change 

We often advise people on intracompany moves – i.e. to a new function, business unit or region with their existing company – but most of the time we’re asked to advise people looking to make an external move.  

Whether someone’s departure is of their own choosing or not – the latter usually resulting from a restructure caused by a change in strategy or ownership – we find the two most common reasons behind a change are a) a lack of happiness and/or fulfilment and b) a perceived lack of success in their most recent company or role.

The Changes People Look For 

The combination of changes executives look for are, of course, infinite. They can, however, be broken down into the following: 

  • Minimal change in their situation: effectively looking to recreate a very similar environment elsewhere 
  • Increased learning by working in a new industry or function, or under a new ownership type  
  • Change in scale and scope of company 
  • Opportunity for career advancement 
  • Change of location, either to experience a new geography or to return home 
  • Change of lifestyle, whether to speed it up, slow it down, go non-executive or take a side-step (e.g. by giving back or pursuing a personal passion) 
  • A change in remuneration and reward, either to ensure earnings continue to rise, to be in a position not to have to earn what they previously did, or to be open to a different risk-reward ratio 

How We Help People Maximise Their Chances of Success 

Any career move is a strategic bet, and we’re here to help maximise people’s chances of success.  

At a time when there’s more choice than ever when choosing one’s next company and role, we help people make the right choice by listening to them – truly listening, as if we were the person speaking – and encouraging them to reflect, by asking them a series of questions. These include: 

  • What have you learned in your current company / role? 
  • What have you really enjoyed that you want to replicate, and what have you not, that you want to change? 
  • What components should an organisation contain so it’ll be the sort of place you’ll enjoy and thrive in? 
  • Which markets / companies in your industry are in growth, so you’ll have a tail wind, and which ones aren’t, and are facing headwinds? 
  • What level of risk are you comfortable with? 
  • What do you want to get out of the next phase of your career, and how would you like to develop? 
  • Do you have any goals you know you want to achieve, and that your next role should facilitate? 
  • How should your next role fit in with your lifestyle? 
  • How flexible can you be when it comes to financial reward? 
  • Are there any future avenues that could be curtailed by heading down any career paths, and are you OK with that? 

Through answering the above, we encourage people to come up with:  

  • Three things they definitely need the next company and role to give them, without which they probably won’t be happy or successful 
  • Three things the next company and role should give them, so it should make it a good move  
  • Three things that would be ideal – the ‘cherries on the cake'

By asking people to set out their 3x3 to evaluate opportunities before they start looking at specific roles, and by not compromising on any of the top three, we provide them with a ‘true north’ that will hopefully ensure that they don’t inadvertently rework priorities around job opportunities that arise. 

Once their 3x3 is set, from a practical perspective, we give people the details of potential employers, investors and headhunters they should be in contact with to access the best opportunities and, if helpful, introduce them to people in our network who’ve had to make a similar choice. It’s important they build their network now, as it probably won’t be the last time they’ll need to draw on it. 

Finally, we’re honest about the fact that a job search can be an emotional roller coaster and it can take time, usually months, to find a suitable role. Hopefully, armed with a tailor-made 3x3, we can help people make well-informed, positive decisions that will set them up for future career success and happiness.