Many of our Institute for Engineering Career Development (IECD) members seek coaching when they have found new job opportunities. They seek guidance on whether or not to leave their current jobs and take the leap.
The one recurring theme in all of these instances is that the new job offers a higher salary than the old one, which makes the opportunity extremely enticing. Just recently, one of our members told me, “I need to talk. I have an opportunity to take one of the highest paying engineering jobs in the industry, but I want to discuss it with an Engineering Management Institute first.” Good idea, I thought. This post will offer some questions you should ask yourself even when one of the highest paying engineering jobs is staring you in the face.
Does this job give me a better opportunity to achieve my goals?
This is the most important question you can ask yourself. As an engineer, you should have clearly defined goals; this is something we instill in our members here at the IECD. Without clearly defined goals, your career may lack direction, and you may lack engagement and motivation. A new career opportunity should always put you in a better position to achieve your goals; if it doesn’t, then how much of a career opportunity is it? If one of your goals is to go from engineer to manager and the new opportunity will facilitate that, then I would consider it a good opportunity—unless you are simply chasing an engineering manager salary.
How can I minimize risk when embracing this new opportunity?
If you are leaving a stable engineering job for another opportunity, you must consider how you can minimize the risk in your new position. Simply taking one of the highest-paying engineering jobs available is not minimizing risk. There is still risk that it won’t work out and in three months you will be looking for another job. Be creative and think of ways you can minimize the risk associated with the worst-case scenario. I spoke to an IECD member recently who has an opportunity to leave a very stable job and start a new office for another company. This is a huge opportunity for him, but also a huge risk. We brainstormed ways that he could minimize risk with this new position, and we came up with a plan for him to request that the company give him a one-year agreement minimum, which would give him both stability and time to succeed.
Do I have a solid plan for making the most of this opportunity?
So you found one of the highest paying engineering jobs that will allow you to achieve your goals faster, but do you have a specific plan to do so? Just because a job, no matter what the salary, offers opportunities for achieving your goals, that doesn’t mean you can take it and expect your goals to be realized without you having a solid plan. Before accepting a new position, you have to do your research and create a plan for how you are going to succeed. If you are starting an engineering firm, you’ll need a business plan. If you will be working for someone else, you still need a plan with the steps you will take and resources you will need to succeed in that position. Just because the salary is high or the company has a great reputation doesn’t mean success is guaranteed in any way.
So next time one of the highest paying engineering jobs or another great engineering opportunity is staring you in the face, be sure to interview yourself and ask yourself these three questions. The results may help you make one of the most important decisions in your engineering career and life.
At the Institute for Engineering Career Development we help engineers make critical career decisions and also help them to develop their skills and networks to bring new opportunities to them. Join us today, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success