Time is your most valuable asset. Too many job candidates waste it by making long term career decisions using short term information.

If you're looking for a new job, about to get a new job or think you'll ever change jobs you must follow these somewhat conflicting and irrational rules, which aren't either:

  • Unless you're desperate, don't ever accept an offer that doesn't include a minimum 30% increase.
  • If you're not looking for a new job but are open to consider changing jobs, don't use compensation, location or the job title to decide whether to have an exploratory conversation.
  • As far as your career goes, time is your valuable asset. Don't waste it. What you do over the next 3-5 years will define the next 10 to 15.

I've been working with candidates both active and passive for years. Even the best, including those who are perfectly happy and are not looking, often violate these fundamental rules of career management. The most important is the one about time being a valuable asset. Sometimes not looking for a new job is riskier than looking for one.

From a career management standpoint understanding the above rules starts by categorizing all job-related decisions into these four buckets.

The "Having" bucket: This is what candidates put on their resumes in terms of skills and experiences and what companies list on their job descriptions. Using a "having" approach to match candidates with jobs overlooks all of the best people who can do the work but have a different mix of skills and experiences.

The "Getting" bucket: This is what recruiters and candidates both want to discuss during their first conversation - the job title, company name, location and compensation package. Both parties filter each other in and out based on this start date criteria with the excuse, "I don't want to waste anyone's time."

The "Doing" bucket: This is what a person will actually be doing on the job during the first year or so and who the person will be doing it with. Most candidates never learn about this "doing" since they've either filtered themselves out during the initial "getting" conversation or they were filtered out because they didn't "have" the ill-defined requisite "must-have" skills.

It's important to note that if the doing part of the job offers an increase in job stretch, job satisfaction and job impact it might offset the need for a big compensation increase. Collectively these are a big part of the 30% increase mentioned in the title and described in the graphic below.

The "Becoming" bucket: This represents the collective future opportunity inherent in the new job, if the person hired is successful in the "doing" part. This is also part of the 30% increase and can be estimated by comparing the candidate's current rate of growth to the underlying rate of change of the new opportunity.

As part of our Performance-based Hiring training programs I suggest to recruiters and hiring managers that to hire the best talent they'll need to offer a minimum 30% non-monetary increase in order for the person to change jobs. I refer to this as the 30% Solution as shown in the graphic. It represents the sum of job stretch (a bigger job), job impact (a more important job), improved job satisfaction (a mix of more satisfying work) and faster job growth.


The good news about this is that most candidates are willing to offset their need for a large compensation increase as long as the job offers a minimum 30% increase in career opportunity. The bad news is few candidates ever get the chance to have these discussions.

For job seekers you need to consider any job change a strategic decision. This is what you'll be doing and becoming in the new role. Too many job seekers overvalue what they'll be getting on their start date with some vague promise of the actual job and future opportunity. This is the primary reason job satisfaction is universally low around the world and turnover is unnecessarily high. So when you get a call from a recruiter, take it. Have an exploratory discussion. Then have the recruiter describe the job in terms of challenges, problems and performance requirements before deciding to get serious.

Recruiters and hiring managers need to embed the "30% Solution" into their everyday processes. It starts by searching for candidates who would see the job as a career opportunity, not a lateral transfer. Once on the phone with a prospect they need to engage in an exploratory conversation to see if the 30% increase can be found. Unfortunately too many box check skills and negotiate the terms of an offer before the person has any knowledge about the job or the opportunity.

The bottom line for job seekers is not to make long-term career decisions using short-term information. More important, the next time you get the chance spend more time negotiating the scope of the job, not the compensation increase.