It’s a New Year - Is it Time to Consider a Career Change???? Here’s some good advice to consider!


Mark Gilbert

Mark Gilbert

The rush of end of year is over and the pressure is on to make this year bigger and better than last.  This is the time when many a engineer asks, “Ok what is next for me” or “is there something better I should be considering”, or “is this the time I get the nerve up to make that change I have wanted to for a while now”.  Or a variety thereof, you get the idea!

There is no one e-z answer to those perplexing questions, but there are a few thoughts I can share with you, to help you make a well thought out decision.

Frequently, as I talk to the hundreds and hundreds of candidates, (as I do all so often), the biggest question is “how much more money can I make”?  So let’s start there…

My consistent and candid advice is always the same; do not make a change for money unless you are considerably underpaid.  Money should be one of only several factors to consider, but not #1.  You see, money in EDA, in most cases is pretty decent.  And while 10-20k more a year would be nice, it is only nice if the other issues all fall nicely in place.  And by other issues I mean things like job security, your relevance to the project and company, and the project you will be working on.  Let’s look at a few of those briefly.

In EDA, I think the best upward spiral is usually to take a little risk and consider a start-up.  Obviously the newer the start-up, the more possibility of risk.  Having said that, joining a start-up in the early stages, while more risky, can usually bring a more significant reward both financially and professionally as the company grows and prospers.  It is important to know how they are funded, how many rounds they have closed, and how far that will take them using the business model they formulated.  But be clear the days of joining start-ups, and getting huge stock options, and walking away with the Taj Mahal (or Bill Gates house) are over.  Do understand though, that an additional reward is totally feasible, and with the right product and team, totally realistic.  A little gamble can go a long way in advancing your career. So on this front I say, if you are totally happy, DON”T MOVE!  If you think the time has come to venture out and see what is out there, here is some more good advice.

The first thing you need to do is talk to someone who knows the industry and companies.  Use a qualified recruiter that speaks and eats EDA/DFM/ESL/Design etc.  ASK QUESTIONS!  This is your future and just like your work, your decisions must come from being properly educated.  Having said that, here are some other good things to ask and discuss.

Find out about the product and what part of the flow they are attacking.

Research a bit about the history of the team doing it.

Read about the space and think to yourself, “is this interesting and plausible”?  Is it something that can actually be conducive to the design flow?  If yes, you owe it to yourself to proceed.

A few DO NOTS…

DO NOT make a decision on what you THINK you know.  SO often candidates tell me, that they knew someone from that company and that person told them…(inset your own negative comments here).  Think about this, have you ever met anyone that was fired or laid off that blamed themselves for the dismissal?  It is always “they did not know X”, “my manger DID NOT know Y”, and more blah blah blah excuses for them not holding on to the job.  (By the way, this is certainly not always the case). Make an educated decision by investing a little of your time to go in, and learn first hand.  If you are strong in the space a company is working in, then you owe it to yourself to see if you can make a worthy contribution.  That will only happen if you go in and TALK to them.

Some other important considerations, as my friend Bob would say are, “Do you want to be a small fish in a big pond or a BIGGER fish in a small pond”?  It is always so nice to be around a group, a whole company with a common objective.  Everyone gets to play a vital role in the company’s future success.

“Will my current position meet my career objectives?”

In other words, do you see yourself going anywhere with your current company?

“Are you bored with your position and the company?”

This is one of the biggest reasons to leave!  You spend roughly a third of your life working. You deserve to enjoy what you do, and like the people you are working with.  You should have a good healthy relationship with your manager and there manager as well.  If not, or you don’t, it is time to look elsewhere.

“You want to make more money”?

Like I said earlier…money should not be the motivating factor, only the icing on the cake.  Money is the business is very subjective, and there are numerous factors that go in to and offer.  Generally speaking, your money will not substantially increase when you make a change.  There are factors like commission, and realized bonuses that could make a difference, but all of it just depends on the company, the position, and your importance to that piece of the puzzle.

In closing, this is a great time to consider making a change, if in fact you are thinking of making a change.  Do not rush the process, and only move if it is a good career choice, or if you are not happy where you are currently.  Discuss your concerns, options and sentiments with your recruiter so he/she can help guide you to the best opportunity that meets your particular needs. Remember, you hold the key to your future;  now all you have to do is insert it, and turn it to make enter the new opportunities you desire.  Feel free to call me anytime to discuss your possible options.


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