Saturday, November 17, 2012

Leaving McKinsey - when to decide

It's mid-November, so people are getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving and gearing up for the holidays.  It also means many current McKinsey consultants are deciding whether or not they will stay at the Firm.  So, I thought I'd switch gears and start including some posts to help current consultants with their decision to stay or go.

Well before I ever thought about leaving the Firm, I received some great pieces of advice on how to make the decision.  In this post, I'll share the three best suggestions I've heard...



AVOID MAKING CAREER DECISIONS DURING REALLY TOUGH OR GREAT TIMES


A colleague explained that in any given year, I could expect to experience three great months, three terrible months, and six average months and suggested that I not make any major career decisions in the great or tough times.  Sometimes unexpected opportunities or incidents will push you into making a decision during a sub-optimal time, but it's avoid making decisions during peaks or valleys whenever possible.



SET REGULAR TIMES TO CHECK-IN WITH YOURSELF

Suggestions I've heard for timing include annually, twice a year, and after every engagement. During these check-ins, perform a self-assessment that addressed the following questions:
    • Are you still excited about being at the Firm?
    • Do you still find the work engaging?
    • Are you still getting more out of the experience than you're giving up?

THERE ARE REASONS YOU SEE MANY FAREWELL EMAILS IN FEBRUARY AND MARCH

I'll go over those reasons in greater detail in a future post about when to start search time.  But the net result is, many people decide it makes sense to go on search time in January, leading to a separation from the Firm a month or two later.  So, if you also want to take advantage of that timing, figure out how much time you need to make a decision with which you'd be comfortable, count back from January, and you'll know when you need to start deliberating.

THERE'S NO "RIGHT" ANSWER

I recognize that the 2nd suggestion could place you in a position of making a decision during one of your particularly good or tough periods.  These suggestions were given to me independently of each other so I would encourage you to pick and choose whichever work for you.  My personal process was to check-in with myself every February when the next annual bonus was so far away that it wouldn't factor into my decision-making.

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