Leaving a job is never easy and is always fraught with risk – the known and the unknown ones. Many of us come to this crossroad at some point in our lives and it gets scarier when we have been in the company for so many years that moving out of our ‘comfort zone’ may seem terrifying.
In my book, “Career Crossroads”, I highlight the right and wrong reasons for leaving your job. However, the bigger response to this “Should I stay or go” question is, “It depends on your Career Strategy”.
It’s always a nice feeling to be courted by the headhunter and prospective employer, with promises of more money, prestige and career growth. However, you need to take a step back and ask, “Is this in line with my Career Strategy?”. Does this new role give you the skills and expertise in the right domain for the role you are aiming for, 2 jobs down the road? e.g., As a local manager, moving from a local-based to regional role makes sense if you are preparing to be Regional MD 8 years from now, but not if you want to be the Country Director in 3 years. Sticking around the local teams would be a better idea as you need to know the local operations more intimately. You need to see the bigger picture of where you are headed, then decide if this role is right for you.
Sometimes, we focus so much on the nitty-gritty (how much salary, bonuses, benefits, leave-days, etc) of the new role that we lose sight of reality. We need to take a breather and ask ourselves whether the switch make any sense at all? “Why am I switching from a larger portfolio to a smaller one or vice versa?” “Am I actually taking a reduction in salary, even though the stock options are generous (but may not materialize)?” “Does it make sense for me to accept a 50% increase in business travel?” Sometimes, something deep down inside (your inner voice) may be nagging you that something is amiss. Pause and listen to it. If you really can’t tell if the move is right for you, speak with your Career Mentor or Career Coach. He will be able to advise.
Our Career Strategy must always support our ‘Life Strategy, otherwise, things will not end well. If you are preparing to start a family, you should not be accepting a job with aggressive travel schedules. Or if you are young and single and want to get a head-start with your career, you shouldn’t be signing on for a slow-burn, cruising type job that will get you nowhere fast. There are many Career Strategies that will determine your choices – just make sure you choose the right one that reflects and supports your particular phase in life. I once spoked to HR VP who had recently been diagnosed with heart problems. He immediately decided to quit and join a less stressful, more relaxed company, even though the salary was half of what he used to get. “No employee ever got a medal for dying for their company”. He said.
Lastly, before you even decide whether to stay or go, talk to your better half about it. Career changes could affect him/her, sometimes in an even bigger way than it affects you. It could mean longer hours or having less spending money. It could mean countless midnight conference calls or regularly burnt weekends. I once had a female candidate who landed a really great role that paid more and was a move in the right career direction for her. However, after signing the offer letter, she called to say that her husband had vetoed the deal… he did not like her in a role that paid more money than him! Do talk to your spouse – make sure both of you are on the same page and things will go a lot smoother during the job transition period. Make sure you get his/her buy in first before deciding whether to leave the company or not.
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