“Are you insane?”
This was the reaction I received when I moved jobs, from client-side to an agency, in the latter part of 2020. At the time, I was leading a digital analytics team at a financial institution in Canada. I had almost four years under my belt working full time, with comfortable job security, and if the worst happened, likely a good package. I really loved my team. We had an advanced Adobe Analytics practice that had over 900 end-users with thousands of reports and a team NPS score over 50. Why not hunker down, stay safe, and shelter in place?
Of course, I had moments of discord and frustration in my role. Who doesn’t? I often overlooked irritations and waved away concerns by telling myself, “it’s just a bad day” or similar justifications. These nagging doubts became impossible to drown out during the height of COVID-19 as my life, like everyone else's, narrowed. To separate Covid-19 anxiety from normal career evaluation, I took stock of these moments more explicitly. I started by examining my role through the lens of:
- “Would I apply for my current job today?”
- “What about my role do I like and how can I do more of what I like?”
- “What do I dislike and what action can I take to mitigate that?”
Focusing on my current role created clarity about the successes to date and where I wanted to go next. This process turned out to be very useful for both mid-year evaluation time and the later interviews. I recommend asking yourself these questions regularly, especially if you have only pushed these thoughts aside in the last year.
Evaluation in hand, I began to reach out to leaders within my company, and externally to my network and the Digital Analytics Association (DAA). I sought advice, constructive criticism, and bounced around ideas. With the aid of people around me, I slowly concluded that I might need to leave my current role.
I came up with a shortlist of “must-haves” in a new role:
- To learn new hard skills, tools, and methodologies.
- My direct manager, and ideally their direct manager, should know and value the discipline that is digital analytics.
- To work for a smallish organization so I could contribute and be exposed to the rich variety of roles in digital analytics.
- I wanted a company with strong values and good employee relations.
- The company needs a flexible, work from home arrangement.
I had not yet ruled out finding a new role with my current employer. But around this time I read Alex Yastrebenetsky of InfoTrust’s “No Layoffs Pledge” on the DAA’s website, noting their award for “Best Place to Work”. That pushed me to look externally as well. I decided to create a shortlist of potential employers, including InfoTrust (the only agency on my list), and evaluate them against my “must-haves”. InfoTrust met all my criteria including:
- Hard skills. I had been admonishing myself for a while that my Google knowledge was not as deep as my Adobe skills. With GA4 on the horizon, working in a top Google partner organization was appealing.
- My manager’s familiarity with what I do for a living. InfoTrust’s team literally writes books on digital analytics and is seen as a thought leader in the field. InfoTrust is also an active corporate member of the DAA.
- InfoTrust is a smallish organization (less than 100 employees currently).
- The organization has strong values (listed in their office and on their website) and good employee relations. They even have a charitable foundation, won over a dozen awards as a workplace with great culture, and a thumbs up rating from Glassdoor.
- Work-from-home flexibility. Everybody is working from home right now anyways, but InfoTrust accommodated remote workers even before the pandemic, so I knew I would be supported.
I applied to a position with InfoTrust in June (via the DAA jobs board). To my great shock, I was contacted for an interview. Despite the uncertainty COVID-19 brought in the summer of 2020, InfoTrust stayed in ongoing communication with me. There was no ghosting with InfoTrust, which unfortunately happened a fair bit with other companies I applied to. The interview process left me thinking, “These guys know what they’re doing.”
When I was offered the position, I was excited but also apprehensive. I caught myself thinking things like, “Could I do this?” and “Would I fall on my face?” Yet I knew through my previous evaluation that this was the right move. No risk, no reward.
I joined InfoTrust in November and while changing roles in a pandemic has been unusual, it has not been nearly as challenging as I feared. The rewards are great. There are a rich mix of clients at various stages of the analytics maturity process that offer a healthy mix of challenges and rewarding partnerships. We have teams of subject-matter experts who are so knowledgeable that I cannot help but be inspired to learn more and more every day. It is both humbling and exhilarating to be a newcomer again in some spheres, and to bring new ideas that are welcomed, in others.
Trust me when I say that I understand the need to feel safe right now. Toronto has been on lockdown for a year. I miss my family, I live with constant anxiety, and I miss the fun. However, I am proud to have made that leap of faith to improve a section of my life that is in my control. I am investing in my career and skill set, which I hope will yield benefits down the road.
If I can do it, you can too.#CareerAdvice
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