Job Doc

I’m an individual contributor. I really like my job, but a friend of mine asked me to try and apply at his company. I don’t know if I want to leave my team, but this new offer has an increase in pay. What should I do? Elaine Varelas examines

Being comfortable with your team and your organization is a good thing, but if that limits your potential growth, that could be a problem. Elaine Varelas examines what to consider when making a change and what you should examine while making your decision.

Ask the Job Doc. Boston.com

Q: I’m an individual contributor and I really love my job. However, a friend of mine wants me to apply to his company. There would be a significant pay raise involved if I did take the job, but I would feel guilty leaving my team behind. What should I do?

A: You should be flattered that your friend wants you to apply to a job at his company. Either you are very talented, and you have great potential with the organization, or they have an exceptionally generous employee referral program that your friend is hoping to cash in on. If he’s a good friend and you trust him, you should take a look at this opportunity and its significant pay raise. While your feelings of guilt concerning leaving your team may be considered kind, you need to look at your long-term career plans. Unless you intend on remaining with your team forever (which may not be in their plans), you may be limiting your growth out of a fear of change, a fear of disappointing your colleagues, or an extreme sense of loyalty.

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Your goal as an individual contributor is to be supportive of your team, including helping them and being a solid colleague. However, while you can be supportive of your manager, you aren’t the manager of your team. Each team member is responsible for their own career growth, and the manager’s job is to support that. Learning to deal with the balance between taking care of your own career and your feelings of commitment to your current company and team is something every professional has to deal with. Don’t minimize the changes you may face somewhere new, but don’t let this sense of failing your current team dictate what you do for your future career. Take the time to really ask yourself some questions. It’s great that you love your job –acknowledge that and think beyond. Why do you love your job? Is it the work? The skills? The people? The comfort? And can you find that same joy and passion somewhere else? Or is it the unknown that is making you pause?

Keep in mind that while your friend has encouraged you to apply, that doesn’t mean you will be interviewed or be offered the job. And just because you interview and are offered the job, it doesn’t mean you have to take the new opportunity. Take one step at a time. Exploring a new opportunity comes first. Learn everything you can about the position, the manager, and the organization. Why do they pay more? Companies have all sorts of reasons to be at the top of the pay scale. Does this new company come with more demands on you outside of standard work hours? Do they hire people, pay well, and promote from within when they see potential? Does your current organization pay under or at the rate of your skillset? Is your skillset seen as highly valuable to your company or more so at the new organization? Do your research. Find out more about both your current organization and this new group. Use Glassdoor, look at the LinkedIn profile of the person you would potentially report to, and read the company press releases. This will help you get a better understanding of the organizational culture and the company’s mission.

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If you decide to go ahead with the interview process, which I encourage you to do, or if you’ve received an invitation, you will be well prepared for the interview based on your research. The interview process is not the time to start talking about the guilt you may have about leaving your current company. Instead, the goal of the interview (be it any interview) is to find out more about the organization and get an offer. And just because you get an offer, it doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Explore the full opportunity. Weigh the benefits of the new organization (vacation time, sick leave, medical benefits, remote work or hybrid). At the same time, examine your current organization with different eyes. Is this a good place? Are people happy here? Is your manager good to work with? Does your current company align with their mission and what you are committed to? And last but mostly importantly: do your colleagues and team need you more than they should? Are you overly committed?

Evaluating your current job will be important to you as you go through this decision-making process. Recognize that increased pay is only one part of the offer. Again, examine the benefits: do you have a significant amount of vacation time at this new company? Can this new organization provide a higher match to your 401K? Or is your current organization providing other benefits that might mean more to you, such as paying for your graduate school or some other type of professional training? Every company offers formal and informal benefits that people value at different times in their lives. Explore and make the decision that is right for you.