Wed | Sep 26, 2018

Stay put or jump ship?

Published:Sunday | March 20, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Deciding whether to continue in their current job or actively seek alternative employment is a recurring question for mid-career employees.

The challenge is increased for those who are successful in their present job and have an apparently secure future. Deciding really gets difficult for persons who joined the organisation at an early stage in their career, and feel a sense of belonging, and even obligation, for the growth that they have experienced.

Answers to whether to stay or leave the job are as varied as the persons involved. Nevertheless, I share some guidelines that may facilitate the decision-making process.


Market Value

One important consideration would be to establish how marketable you are and the value that is placed on you. You may think that you have suitable options, but it is better to get assurance from being better informed.

Evaluating your value:

• Keep abreast of job postings from multiple sources. Take care to look at the qualifications and competencies that are in demand.

• Register with a trusted head hunter or recruitment agency who will, first of all, review what you bring to the table and share what you might expect from the job market. They could also alert you to new opportunities that appear to be a fit for you and check if you are interested.

• Apply for suitable jobs without having made a mental commitment to leave. You go into the interviews more with a view of learning about the grass on the other side than out of a decision to cross the fence. Be very discrete and careful.


Switching Costs

One reason for individuals who have climbed up the corporate ladder to stay put in their organisation, is that there are costs that are associated with moving.

Having to earn your stripes all over again is a major deterrent. You are now well respected and trusted. Going to a new environment means going through hoops once again.

Another issue is that you may have to acquire new skills or navigate new learning curves. With that comes a degree of stress and a touch of self-doubt.


Rewards for switching

Anecdotally, individuals who make strategic changes in employment end up with higher emoluments than those who stick to one employer. The logic behind that is that you are likely to move for more than you are currently earning (including your next salary increase). Consequently, it is hard for the individual who depends solely in pay increments to keep pace.

Switching can also accelerate career advancement. You move to accept positions that are on a higher rung than you currently occupy. This might get you to higher levels faster than awaiting promotions.

The flip side of the career development issue is where you are being fast-tracked in your current job. In that case, you might not be interested in leaving.


Internal Shift

One option for addressing the itch for a change is to examine options for a significant shift in roles and responsibilities within your current organisation. I am aware of an actual case where the head of the human resources department followed his technological passion and skills to transition to chief information officer.

More interestingly, I personally researched and did the groundwork to successfully make the case for my employers to set up a subsidiary which I then managed. This resulted in a dramatic upward career trajectory.

Using your creativity in your present job can produce great results for you and your organisation.



You may find it useful to adopt these principles:

• Pay close attention to your career and ongoing personal development.

• Hone skills that are relevant in the current environment and that are in keeping with emerging trends.

• Seek out cross-training and volunteering opportunities to expand your skills and your network.

• Constantly update your resume.

• Join groups or associations that allow for networking and keeping your pulse on industry trends.

• Find a balance between risk and security that fits your risk profile and financial situation.

Advance your career with SHRM-accredited Certified Behavioural Coach Award and 3-D Leader Certification: Leading Difficult People programmes. Earn PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP certifications.

• Trevor E. S. Smith is a behaviour modification coach with the Success with People Academy. Send your issues to: