Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Posted December 28, 2010

Should I stay or leave my job?“Why are you interested in a new opportunity?” I always ask candidates this question. One of the most common answers I hear is boredom or lack of challenge in their current position. So I ask, do you feel like you've outgrown your job? It’s a good idea to start analyzing and get a sense of where you are in your job, before you decide to leave it.

Are you able to take full advantage of your current position?

A couple of weeks ago a candidate told me that he was ready to change gears. A director at a major eCommerce operation, he’s responsible for development teams, product strategy, marketing, sales, advertising teams and analyzing profit and loss.  Although he excels at all of his duties, he does not feel challenged any more. His employer decided not to build out the division and remain at its current operational level. After working tirelessly to get the business unit up and running successfully, the candidate’s executive management team decided the only things left to do would be spend more on advertising and increase product selection for customers. Basically, everything shifted to maintenance mode. His concern quickly became the fear that we would get stuck in a middle-management position, without the ability build on his current successes. Having built out the eCommerce department, the candidate felt all avenues of growth in his current position were exhausted. I mention this because the candidate took full stock of all his current and projected future duties to finally come to the realization that he has outgrown his position and began to seek a new opportunity. His story is one that many candidates can learn from and gauge whether or not they have taken full advantage of the opportunities with their current position, before looking for something new.

Do you take on new challenges and responsibilities? Or, just wait for someone to assign them to you?  

Most employers want self-motivated employees.  There are tasks and assignments that you can just get done without waiting for them to be assigned to you, I guarantee it. If the tasks aren't a part of your job description take advantage of the opportunity to get stuff done. You may find there are challenges that you can incorporate into your daily job that increase job satisfaction, and maybe it is a task your manager did not think of asking you to do.

An example of this scenario played out with a lead software engineer I placed into a position three months ago, who called to tell me that he did not feel challenged in his work and that he was getting bored.

First, I asked him how much time he was spending during the work day on Facebook and other social networks. He responded truthfully that it was at least an hour a day on social networks doing things that did not directly correlate to his work. I asked him plainly if there were things around that he felt he could build or do to improve the work environment and development process. He explained there was plenty but the he was not assigned to do those things. I reminded him that he was a lead, and he needed to...you guessed it...lead. Don't wait, just do it.

Through the course of our 30 minute conversation he rattled off at least 5 projects he knew he could grab and complete that would make everyone's life better if they were completed. When I checked in with him a few weeks later, he said that the work place had become more efficient and his management team had really loved the work he'd done, not to mention his initiative. They gave him more high profile work and he’s happier than at any other time at work.

My point, what are you waiting for?

Don’t beat around the bush, just ask the question already.

Talk to people, people with the ability to do something about your situation. Most people are afraid to ask a hard question. Company politics aside, if you don't ask the question, you will never get an answer. If there is an opening in your company that will provide you the challenge you are looking for and an opportunity for advancement, talk to someone about it. Your boss, HR, the hiring manager, the VP....just ask! If you just wait for someone to give you something you want, odds are you will be waiting a long time. If your feel like you've outgrown your current role, ask for a new one. What's the worst thing that can happen? They say no? Well, you’re already thinking about what's next in line for you anyway so why just leave it to fate?  This isn't the Greek tragedy, it’s your career...be Ulysses and map your own course. Ask for what you want. A raise, a promotion, extra PTO, the opportunity to write a blog and develop social media strategy, whatever...just ask.

Explore your options. 

Now you’ve done your diligence. Do you still feel the same? If so, it’s time to explore your options. Talk to associates in your professional network about what you are looking for. Get your resume and LinkedIn profile updated. Start checking job boards (Monster, Hot Jobs, CyberCoders) and research sites like CareerBliss to define the path you want to be on.  Are you interested in more money (probably), shorter commute, more direct responsibilities, management or hands on challenges? Define for yourself what you feel like you are missing that has brought you here and then start building your strategy around finding opportunities that will allow you to continue to grow. If you can afford it and you don't need to jump right away, exercise patience. Make sure that when you do move to the next role that you are doing it for all the right reason.  Just remember that it’s not about your next job, it’s about your career – navigate your path accordingly.

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