By Robin Reshwan

U.S. News, May 8, 2018 —

Judge a role based on a well-thought-out framework.

Last week it was announced that the U.S. is at its lowest unemployment rate in almost 20 years. With record numbers of Americans working, it has never been a better time to select a new role. But how do you identify the best opportunity for you? Here are three strategies for selecting an ideal position.

First, what is your criteria for making a change? Many people seek out a new role to get away from things they don’t like in their current position. The problem with this type of reactive decision-making is that there is no connection to a longer-term strategy for your professional development or growth. The reality is, and has been for a long time, that the grass is rarely greener on the other side. Job satisfaction is tied to feeling challenged, valued and connecting meaning to your work. It does not come from money and perks alone. Money and perks, however, are very enticing when they surpass your current compensation and are powerful motivators.

The best way to make a move that is ideal for you, both in terms of personal career development and future employability, is to judge a role based on a well-thought-out framework of what you require to continue to progress in your career. A job change that does not rate well based on a more comprehensive criterion, often ends in a failure once the excitement of money, perks or just a new environment wears off.

Make a job change to something that will benefit your career in the long term. (Hero Images/Getty Images)

Second, passion counts. Are you passionate about the position? A 2018 study by online job board found that lack of passion was the No. 1 reason passive job seekers failed in a new role. (A passive job seeker is someone who was recruited into a role. This means the employee did not reach out to the employer first to apply, but rather a recruiter contacted the prospective employee first to see if she was interested in a specific role.) Companies understand that compensation and perks can be very enticing. Combine that with their access to 500 million professionals via LinkedIn, and it has never been easier for a company to attract the attention of a passive candidate if it offers higher compensation or perks.

The pitfall of this cycle is that, for the job seekers who jump without a true passion and commitment for some aspect of the new role, there is a high likelihood of failure. One bad jump for the wrong reasons is not necessarily a big deal in a long career. But repeated jumps because you aren’t satisfied with your role and want to move again in 12 months is the sign of a “job-hopper.”

Job-hopping is not necessarily a hiring deterrent in a robust economy with a talent shortage – but it is the kiss of death in a downturn. Ask anyone who has worked for more than 10 years – downturns are inevitable and they always happen at the worst time. (Like right after you have bought a great new car, rented a well-located new apartment and have credit card bills that you know you will pay off with your next bonus check.) Job-hopping hurts when things are bad – and it makes your circumstances much, much worse. Also, your lack of commitment to any one employer will show on your resume. In short, don’t make an unnecessary move unless the role aligns with your longer-term plan.

Third, ask, “Does a change to this new role give me more or fewer career options when I am ready to change again in the future?” Careers are long. Americans are expected to work an average of 40 years before retirement. Considering the current national average tenure with an employer is four and a half years, that means a minimum of 10 job changes for most of us. Unless you are retiring later this year, odds are you will need to be hired many more times again in your career. Factor this into any potential job change.

For your own benefit, research if moving to a new role increases your future employability, keeps it the same or hinders it. Making a poor choice could cost you months of unemployment at a future date. Each month of unemployment lowers your annualized income by 8.3 percent and can make it more difficult to secure a role at your previous level of income. A hasty move to grab 10 percent more in pay now for a role that could harm your future prospects may wind up costing you months of income – usually at a terrible time. If you do the math, it is easy to see that keeping an eye to the future before you make a move is the best way to build a long-term, lucrative and satisfying career.