So there can be many benefits to switching jobs. Moving to another company is likely to bring you a bigger and quicker raise and perhaps an opportunity for promotion. And many people find it stimulating and refreshing to periodically take on new challenges, new surroundings, and new colleagues. There’s an excitement about changing jobs that can be a bit intoxicating. The first few weeks at the new company often feels like the early days of a new romance. You’re “the new kid on the block” and everyone is curious about you and interested in you. You and your new co-workers haven’t yet had the chance to learn about one another’s shortcomings. Everything you say and do is observed hopefully and optimistically.
By contrast, “sticking it out” in a job you’ve held for some months or years can feel stifling, boring, and oppressive. The excitement of the early weeks has long since vanished, and in its place is routine work that often seems like drudgery. You’ve had a chance to discover your company’s and colleagues’ flaws, and they’ve learned about all of yours. As a result, it’s easy to start daydreaming about the next job.
We all have days when we want to “chuck it all” and escape to a new job – any job. But that feeling alone usually isn’t a good reason to do it. Remember, job changes have their downside, too. There’s always a cost and risk involved in shifting companies, industries, and career tracks; it’s never possible to be absolutely certain that your new position will really be better than the familiar one you’re leaving. And there’s a definite psychological, emotional, and physical cost attached to the personal upheaval of changing jobs. Don’t get me wrong—I’m all for change with a purpose. But you need to really understand your motivations in order to make an intelligent and successful job switch.
The best way to decide whether to stay or go is to ask yourself some serious questions that can help you focus on whether or not leaving your current job makes sense for you. Check how many of these can be answered with “yes”:
1. My job offers me real opportunities to expand my career horizons and job skills.
2. In my job, I spend at least half of my time doing work I’d like to do more of in the future.
3. My job offers significant upside potential for advancement.
4. My job offers me the opportunity to meet and work with interesting people from whom I can learn a lot.
5. My job gives me the opportunity to manage my own work and take responsibility for the results.
6. The people I report to know and value me and my work.
7. The people I report to are known and valued by those to whom they report.
8. Most days, my job is fairly interesting.
9. My job lets me live and work in a geographic location that I am happy with.
10. I am paid the kind of salary that I feel is fair and that’s satisfactorily covers my personal needs.
11. There are significant opportunities for advancement in other departments or divisions of my company.
12. My employer offers benefits (health care, vacations, retirement plan, etc.) that meet my needs.
13. My working conditions are reasonably comfortable for me.
14. I like the products and services my company produces.
15. I am proud to be associated with the policies and ethical standards that my employer represents.
If you can say “yes” to a majority of these, you may need to consider changing jobs. But whether you choose to stay or go, do it for the right reasons. Don’t do it just because “everyone else is doing it,” because you’ve been in one place for three or four years, because it will look good on your resume, because you can’t get along with certain people you work with, or just because your husband, wife, or best friend is pushing you to move. Don’t do it for any reason that does not fit your long-term career goals.