New Year, New Career? Know When to Stay and When to Go

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Jobs are essential in modern economies. A steady paycheck in exchange for work performed is usually how it’s done. That’s all well and good, but what about you? Are you fulfilled? Challenged? Performing to potential? Is your boss a mentor and your workload manageable?

In the 21st century, vertical career ladders have become jungle gyms, with longevity and loyalty measuring up against productivity and profitability. If you’re looking around, exploring your options, it can be a struggle to make a decision on whether to stay put or move on.

If you can’t decide whether to stay or go, think about these statements and whether or not they apply to you. If you can’t claim at least one of them, it is probably a good time to consider switching horses.

I have a satisfying job description and feel I play a vital role in my organisation.

Congratulations! You are among the happy campers out there that should probably stay put until something changes. Still, staying in touch with the world around your industry is a good idea.

Explore what other firms are doing and then learn all you can. It will help you with your present post, and give you a leg up if you decide to make a change. Not so satisfied? Explore why you feel that way. If it is something that you can change by engaging, give it a shot. If not, discretely begin to look around.

I am satisfied with the salary I receive for the work I do.

If you are making a comfortable salary that compares favorably with what others are paid for your position, location, and industry, cheers, mate! If you feel you could be earning more by making a switch, it may be time to dig into some statistics to see where you stand. If it looks like it’s in line, great. If not, think about what the going rate is and consider asking for a raise.

Timing is everything here so do a little research, then schedule your meeting. Remember, you don’t get what you don’t ask for. Be prepared for either answer, or even to negotiate, knowing what is, and isn’t, an acceptable bump.

My boss is a great leader and mentor.

Few people get it 100 percent right all of the time, but if your boss is doing things right most of the time, and you’re learning things along the way, you’ve probably got a position worth keeping. If you feel undervalued, and leadership is not forthcoming or you’re not learning from the experience, it may be in your best interest to explore your options.

A good leader that can help you grow and advance is a jewel. Even if things are difficult, but you’re gaining valuable industry expertise, it may prove worth your while to stick it out for a stretch. Knowledge is power. Get some, then use it wisely.

My workload is about right and I am working to my potential.

If you’re working a regular week, with a time crunch every now and again, and you are challenged to function to your full potential at least some of the time, that’s a good sign. If you’re always putting in overtime hours for a basic salary without a little something extra in your paycheck, and your potential is but a dream while you’re scrambling to just get bases covered, you’re going to burn out.

Heavy workloads are OK once in a while, but if that’s the norm, get thee to the job bank to at least review some alternatives. Always being jammed up, schedule-wise, allows little time for proper planning and creative problem-solving. You deserve better and may want to move on to a more efficient operation.

My organisation is on a solid path for a successful year.

If your job tucks you into an organised structure with some room for growth and creative progress, consider yourself lucky. If there are rumors, secret meetings, and suspicious glances running rampant, without an explanation of what things look like going forward, that’s a sign.

Listen to the industry buzz, ask questions of your managers if it seems appropriate for your industry and position, and talk with suppliers to learn what’s what within your organization’s framework, then decide if you want to be a part of the plan. Always give your boss the opportunity to explain any unsettling talk that is “going around,” as things are often not what they seem. If the answer isn’t satisfactory, put the wheels in motion to tidy up the resume.

Before You Jump …

Even if you found that none of these statements apply to you, don’t despair. Sometimes a simple change of focus can open new doors to a more suitable career, or even polish up a tarnished one. Once you decide whether to stay in the same industry or make a more challenging switch, research the skills, education, and experience you need to make the changes you’re considering, then make your plans so that next time you review your stay/go checklist, you’ll be right where you should be.

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