In the February 18, 2014 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader can’t decide whether to stay or go:
I’m feeling itchy — I think you know what I mean. This is probably what a headhunter like you looks for in a job candidate for your clients. Someone who is ready to move! I’m happy at my job at this company, but I’m wondering if something better is worth jumping ship for. But then I realize how good I’ve got it here. How do I know whether I should stay?
This question is more common than some people might think — it’s natural to ask it again and again during your career. Since I’ve already covered it in one of my books, I’m going to reprint the pertinent section. I hope it helps you work this out!
From Fearless Job Hunting, Book 1: Jump-Start Your Job Search, pp. 11-12.
Why should I stay at my current company?
Question: I’m considering leaving my company. I’ve been pretty happy here and the company has been good to me. Now there are some good opportunities I’ve learned about that would pay better. But I’m worried about “the grass is always greener” effect. That is, my current company and job might in fact be the best thing for me. How do I go about evaluating what I’ve got here?
Nick’s Reply: You’re smart to consider this so carefully. I’m convinced that the most common underlying reason for job change (whether as a result of employee dissatisfaction, or downsizing) is that people take the wrong jobs to begin with. Sometimes they jump to a new job without good reason.
The key to success is to judge any company — including your current one — by its people, its products, and its reputation.
Another issue, of course, is the compensation. Be careful. There’s more to compensation than a few extra bucks. It’s up to you to figure out how much the intangibles at your current company are worth. There are some valuable intangible benefits to consider. (Their value to you depends, of course, on the quality of your current employer and job.)
- Credibility. Your reputation and credibility are probably well-established. You don’t have to waste a lot of time and effort proving yourself to your employer. You can focus on being productive. Your credibility also positions you for internal career growth, so go talk to your boss.
- Culture. You understand and can work within the culture and politics. You’ve paid your dues. In a new company, you’ll have to learn all over again how to navigate the system.
- Efficiency. You’ve probably got your work organized well enough that you’re working efficiently and without working any more hours than necessary. In a new company, you will of course learn new things, but probably at the cost of a longer work day.
- Community. You have established solid friendships and working relationships. It’s good to meet new people and learn new ways of doing things, but there’s also something to be said about being part of a solid community.
- Seniority-based benefits. You have been around long enough to qualify for a pension program and other seniority-based benefits. For example, there’s often a significant delay before you can participate in a new employer’s 401(k) plan. That can cost you a lot over the years. If you’ve held your job for several years, you probably get several weeks’ vacation each year. Changing employers may reset your vacation time to two weeks.
Before you accept an offer elsewhere, make sure you know what you’re giving up and what you’re getting into. Be ready to accept the price, or enjoy what you’ve got.
If your desire for something new is stimulating your interest in changing jobs, consider changing jobs internally. Staying with your employer doesn’t mean you must stagnate. You can begin an aggressive campaign to change jobs without changing employers.
This Q&A is reprinted from Fearless Job Hunting, Book 1: Jump-Start Your Job Search, which includes these sections:
- Introduction: How to start a job search
- The myth of the last-minute job search
- Changing careers 1-2-3 (and 4)
- How to start job hunting now
- Can old experience win a new job?
- Why should I stay at my company?
- I’m losing my job!
- How do I say I got fired?
- How do I explain being unemployed?
- Why can’t I keep a good job?
- How can I change careers mid-stream?
- PLUS: 8 How to Say It tips
- PLUS: 9 sidebars packed with advice to give you the insider’s edge!
To pick up where the reprint leaves off, if you’re considering changing jobs internally, check out JHBWA (Job Hunting By Wandering Around). That new opportunity might be nearer than you think — with virtually no competition.
There are of course many more factors to think about before you jump ship, but these are some that I think are easily forgotten.
When the itch to move comes upon you, what do you do? What other factors do you consider? How do you evaluate your options?