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Recently my manager approached me because our team lead is leaving and asked if I wanted to be team lead for the team. This has been a career goal of mine for some time but I also have been wanting to explore other opportunities and I am hoping to make a move some time this year.

I really want to take the position because it has been a career goal of mine but I also feel if I leave within the next few months it would look very bad on me, on my manager, and on my team. I think the thing that keeps me from just taking it is I don't want to burn this bridge if I can help it.

For now I told him I wanted to think about it a little more. Would it look really bad if I took the position even if I had the intention to leave?

EDIT: For those wondering why I would make this decision, I wanted to add some clarification

  • I don't think the company has a strong future despite all the years I've been there not much has changed; what's kept me there is I feel I was still learning a lot but that is starting to hit a tipping point.
  • The "team lead" role is not very defined at my company so actually I don't think it'll be much different from my current role. In fact "team lead" while is a title internally, is not an official title. It's "what I make of it" role is fine since I have many ideas but also doesn't really entice me as much as I thought it would.
  • Even with the above options I would normally take it but I am currently interviewing a company within the next 2 weeks (which complicates things). I know the manager there because he used to work for my company and left several years ago and he is excellent.
  • The company that I am interviewing with is arguably a dream company (I love their product, feel they have a great company outlook, and the manager I know is great).
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    I'd say it all depends on the timeline. Jumping ship only 1 month after getting the new position will be frowned upon, but doing so 6+ month later would be more ok imo. – Aserre Apr 25 at 12:57
  • This just feels internally inconsistent. "I want to leave the job for which I just achieved my goal". Either you want to leave the job, or you want to achieve your goal (which is a job). So you leaving means you want to leave your goal. – ShinEmperor Apr 25 at 15:19
  • @ShinEmperor Yeah I do feel a little of that which is why I'm a little torn. To be clearer I still have that goal but I'm not in a rush. I'm losing some interest in the company and I would say I am more excited in trying to work at other companies to diversify my experiences (I feel kind of pigeonholed in what I know) and I feel ultimately that will help me more in transitioning to a manager role which is why I've been learning towards this decision. – Kevin Xu Apr 25 at 16:55
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Unless you have a signed contract in your hand, you have no job offer. Unless you have another job offer, don't assume you will leave your current job.

Life happens. Dreams shatter. Your other opportunity might disappear, so keep your current job and carry on. Your friend manager might have no budget, company might collapse because CEO lied to everyone.

Don't say: I would like to but I think of moving. That is a sign that you don't care and the current company might decide to let you go preemptively.

Maybe, you'll get into the new role and discover that you were wrong about current company and will feel much better. Main point: if you don't have a job offer, don't resign (officially or unofficially) from your current position.

Finally:

I really want to take the position because it has been a career goal of mine but I also feel if I leave within the next few months it would look very bad on me, on my manager, and on my team. I think the thing that keeps me from just taking it is I don't want to burn this bridge if I can help it.

If you feel any better, forget that you are interviewing right now. That doesn't matter because you have no job offer. It is your management's job to set up a system that will not collapse if valuable employee decides to move on.

Accept new team lead position (if you really want it and if is your best job offer at the time), try to be as professional as possible, when you get an offer, simply say:

I know it's not perfect and I just changed my role, but I have another opportunity that I am really happy about. Thank you for letting me work here in a first place. Please let me know how I can ease the transition in the next 2 weeks (2 months).

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    This. I was in the OP's position, I was offered a team lead position in a failing company. I turned it down because I was interviewing elsewhere. The remaining time at that company was "unpleasant", to put it mildly. If I had the chance again, I would have took the team lead role regardless. – Joe Stevens Apr 25 at 17:43
  • Thank you both so much that is very helpful advice. This aligns with my current thinking but wanted more opinions. I am pretty close to my manager but I feel word gets out I am looking around, it will make things very hard. – Kevin Xu Apr 25 at 20:30
  • I'm accepting this answer because it seems to answer my question the most. I should have an update which I will post as an official answer of the aftermath if people are curious. – Kevin Xu May 7 at 21:51
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What do you want to achieve by leaving? It's a lot easier to move into a lead role within your existing organisation than it is to get hired into a lead role with no previous leadership experience.

If this is a career goal then taking the position and working in it for a year or so would be likely to open more opportunities at a team leader/manager level than moving now and reestablishing your reputation to the point where you are offered another promotion.

  • I feel I'm just losing a lot of interest in the team and the product (I also don't see a strong future in the company). Part of me thinks it might be better for my career to leave and start from "scratch", grow more as an IC with a more diversified background from other companies and then work on pursuing a lead role. I think there's one company I'm applying for that really has me torn -- I love their product and would arguably say it's my dream company. I also know the manager there. I have added these to the question. – Kevin Xu Apr 25 at 17:03
  • I understand that it's easier to move into a lead role in an existing organization but how do you weigh company outlook and a lot of other factors into that decision of staying vs leaving? Truthfully, I don't think I'll learn a lot as a lead in my present team which is the real issue. – Kevin Xu Apr 25 at 17:05
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    This doesn’t answer the original question. – Mateusz Stefek Apr 25 at 17:19
  • Not sure if comment was for me but, what I achieve by leaving is working at a more stable company that I really like and I feel I will learn a lot more, even more than where I am at as a lead role. – Kevin Xu Apr 25 at 20:28
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    @KevinXu It is unlikely you can assess a new company with that much certainty from the outside. You may very well enter an even worse company. At least if you have one year experience as a lead, a LOT more options are now available. Would the new company give you a lead position now? – Nelson Apr 26 at 2:10
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In the end, you need to do what's right for you.

Look at the pros and cons of staying, or leaving. You need to decide for yourself if a given opportunity is better than a team lead opportunity at your current company. It will often go deeper than money. It may include things like company culture (do you LIKE your current job?), or the hours, or the tasks you would do, or your coworkers, or any of a number of things.

You're worried about burning bridges by jumping ship after getting promoted? If that happens that you get an offer you can't pass up just be honest with the boss. Tell him you were already looking but you had not seen any offers you expected to take when you accepted the promotion. Then an offer came along you couldn't pass up. With that, wish your current company luck, and move on. Thank them for the time you spent there, and the experiences you were able to get.

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