Stay Put or Jump Ship?
Deciding whether to continue in their present job or actively seek alternative employment is a recurring question for mid-career employees. The challenge is increased for those who are successful in their present job and have an apparently secure future. Deciding really gets difficult for people who joined the organization at an early stage in their careers and feel a sense of belonging and even obligation for the growth that they have experienced.
Answers as to whether to stay or leave the job are as varied as the persons involved. Nevertheless, I share some guidelines that may facilitate the decision making process.
One important consideration would be to establish how marketable you are and the value that is placed on you. You may think that you have suitable options, but it is better to get assurance from being better informed.
Evaluating your value:
- Keep abreast of job postings from multiple sources. Take care to look at the qualifications and competences that are in demand.
- Register with a trusted head hunter or recruitment agency who will first of all review what you bring to the table and share what you might expect from the job market. They could also alert you to new opportunities that appear to be a fit for you and check if you are interested.
- Apply for suitable jobs without having made a mental commitment to leave. You go into the interviews more with a view to learning about the grass on the other side than out of a decision to cross the fence. Be very discrete and careful!
One reason why individuals who have climbed up the corporate ladder stay put in their organization is that there are costs appended to moving.
Having to earn your stripes all over again is a major deterrent. You are now well respected and trusted. Going to a new environment means going through hoops once again.
Another issue is that you may have to acquire new skills or navigate new learning curves. With that comes a degree of stress and a touch of self-doubt.
Rewards for switching
Anecdotally, individuals who make strategic changes in employment end up with higher emoluments than those who stick to one employer. The logic behind that is that you are likely to move for more than you are currently earning (including your next salary increase). Consequently, it is hard for the individual who depends solely in pay increments to keep pace.
Switching can also accelerate career advancement. You move to accept positions that are on a higher rung than you currently occupy. This might get you to higher levels faster than awaiting promotions.
The flip side of the career development issue is where you are being fast-tracked in your current job. In that case, you might not be interested in leaving.
One option for addressing the itch for a change is to examine options for a significant shift in roles and responsibilities within the current organization. I am aware of an actual case where the Head of HR followed his technology passion and skills to transition to CIO.
More interestingly, I personally researched and did the groundwork to successfully make the case for my employers to set up a subsidiary which I then managed. This resulted in a dramatic upward career trajectory.
Using your creativity in your present job can produce great results for you and your organization.
You may find it useful to adopt these principles:
- Pay close attention to your career and ongoing personal development.
- Hone skills that are relevant in the current environment and in keeping with emerging trends.
- Seek out cross-training and volunteering opportunities to expand your skills and your network.
- Constantly update your resume.
- Join groups or associations that allow for networking and keeping your pulse on industry trends.
- Find a balance between risk and security that fits your risk profile and financial situation.
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Trevor E S Smith is a Behaviour Modification Coach with the Success with People Academy™.