Ten Things to Consider Before Taking that New Position
by, 07-27-2010 at 03:05 PM (6678 Views)
Newly commissioned or not, many officers fall into cracks that can swallow a career whole if they are not careful. Letís say you think itís time for a new position. Perhaps you arenít getting recognition, or your promotion prospects are limited, or higher level billets are few and openings rare, you donít like the direction your evaluations are going, or you just want to move because you think it will be good for your career or personal life.
Whoa. Stop. Like they say in woodworking; measure twice and cut once. You are making a potentially career-ending or career-killing decision. Or maybe you are making the best move of your career. It all depends on you. You are your own safety net.
Letís go over some points officers need to understand before changing jobs.
1) A geographic move alone will not get you promoted. There isnít much about a change in geography that appeals to a promotion board if the move doesnít show career progression. That means a higher level billet, more responsibility and more span of control. Your new job should mean you influence a wider geographic area or larger population, you control more money, you lead more people, etc.
2) If the job you are considering has been posted more than once and has not been filled from within the agency; that is a bad sign. Think about it. There are reasons. Find out what they are. Donít believe everything you are told at the interview.
3) Donít burn bridges at the agency you are leaving or thinking of leaving. You may think that you can let it all off your chest and give everyone the reasons you are leaving. While that may seem like a good idea at the time, realize that even though you can move around, your reputation will often precede you and if you ever need to go back to your old agency, people tend to have long memories. They donít want to hire a person who will be unhappy.
4) Abandoning your network. You may have built a good reputation and network at your present agency. However, few in your gaining agency may know you and even fewer may support you when it comes time to decide who moves to a higher level billet or who gets training. The reality is, you may be a super officer but you are also going to be the new kid on the block. Others in that agency may have carefully set up a network; you may not be seen as ďpaying your duesĒ, and ultimately the best qualified person will probably not be selected.
5) You could be lied to by anyone. Donít assume a rosy picture painted by others is true; other commissioned officers may steer you purposely in the wrong direction. Remember, they are looking out for themselves. First, try to figure out where the higher level billets in your gaining agency are located, who is in them, and ask them what it takes to get there.
6) Find out if your new position could be terminated, either due to programmatic decisions or because of a tour-of-duty time limit. If you could or will be released by the gaining agency, you have put yourself in a very tough position. The USPHS can offer you limited assistance to find another job. Assistance from a staffing officer could put you somewhere you donít want to be, in a billet that is not going to do your career any favors. If you turn down an assignment from a staffing officer, you will risk having your commission terminated or going inactive until you can find a new job. Finding a new job on USAJobs can be difficult for officers since the personnel system at certain agencies doesnít always understand what a Commissioned Corps officer is or how to fill a position with an officer.
7) Your new agency might not be ďCorps FriendlyĒ. Try to find out from other officers if the position you are considering is under a management chain that appreciates the value of the Corps. Try to find out if the person who previously held the position was a Corps officer. Track that person down and ask for the inside story. Just remember to take what they say with a healthy grain of salt. Get multiple opinions, if possible. RememberÖ.what they say often depends on whether or not they know you personally and are looking out for your best interests. This is where your people skills and networking skills pay off.
8) The agency you are thinking about is not necessarily the agency youíre thinking about. Letís say the mission sounds great, the work sounds interesting, you think you could really make a contribution. But, donít get caught up in a romantic view of the agency before you make the leap. Do your due diligence and find out if the agency really does those great things. Remember that local supervisors and politics will rule your world. You could wind up micromanaged and unable to do the work you want. Or the opposite. But find out before you commit.
9) Never accept a job without a face-to-face interview with the people you will be working for. Interview them as much as they interview you. Ask to see where you will work. Take time to talk to people in your unit. If you canít talk to them on-site, get an organizational chart and call people later, after you leave the interview. You will probably find out the good and the bad. Try to find at least one person you can trust who is not in management and ask for the unvarnished truth.
10) Obviously a geographic move can have affects on your family, raise your stress level, and possibly create a financial hardship. You do not want all those things on top of the consequences of a poor decision. Donít rush into a new position without carefully considering the consequences. Do your homework, ask many questions, ask multiple people, and above all protect your career and family.