Should I stay or should I go? – Changing your employment

As some of you may know I have recently changed jobs. For me moving jobs is a difficult decision to make as I imagine it is for many others. Changing employment is a life altering decision and it’s not something that should be taken lightly. To be certain the decision I make is the right one I go through a process that I hope will help others if they are thinking about moving on.

There are a number of questions you need to ask yourself throughout this process and I have compiled a list of those that I go through:

  1. Are you happy in your job?
    Why are you not happy? Is it the work you are doing; is it the people you are working with? Do you feel the work you are doing is not in line with where you want to your career to be heading?
  2. Are you progressing forward in your career plans?
    Maybe you are perfectly happy where you are, but the role you are in is not pushing you in the right direction. It’s easy to become settled in a position and for some they have reached their career goal and being settled where they are is exactly what they wanted. Others sometimes need a reminder that whilst feeling settled is great it’s not always pushing them forward.
  3. Does your role not match your earnings?
    This is always a difficult area to approach. Make sure you do your research into current rates of pay for your specific job role. Ask friends, have a look at current jobs on the market and make comparisons, it may even be worth calling up a recruitment agency and asking them a few questions about salaries.

Just to see what’s out there you’ve gone out to some interviews and you’ve been offered a position. It’s at this point that it’s suddenly a bit more real and you begin to question if you’re making the right decision at all. Here’s what I do to be certain:

  1. Have you given you’re current company a chance?
    Have you been there long enough? A short term employment can raise concerns with future employers when it shows up on your C.V. Have you discussed you’re issues about your current situation with your manager? You should really give them a chance to rectify the situation before making any rash decisions. That aside, if you have been offered an unbelievable opportunity you shouldn’t let it pass.
  2. Do a pros and cons list
    Put the companies side by side and draw up and list of pros and cons, it’s a good way to visualise how they compare and assess if the potential new role offers you what you are lacking in the current role.
  3. Ask for a code review
    If you’re worried about the type of code base you might be working with ask if you can go in and meet the people you’d be working with and have a look at the code they’re doing.
  4. Location
    The location has to be right for you, you don’t want to be doing a hideous commute on top of an already stressful situation that is starting a new job. Do remember to research all possible routes of travel and relocation.

The hardest thing I found to leave at my last company was the people. You spend a lot of your time with the people you work with and with some you form a friendship and a feeling of trust. I felt like I’d be letting them down and in hindsight that was wrong. Moving on is a natural progression for most. It’s nothing personal it’s just business and you have to put yourself as number one, I cannot stress enough that you have to do the right thing for you. If the friends you made at your current place are really your friends they will understand and they will stay in touch! Just make sure you do a proper hand over ;)

Of course this is my way of doing things and I’m always open to other methods, let me know how you make a decision on something like this.

S :)

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3 Responses

  1. Jeff V Says:

    Great post. I think the most important point is the one about loving what you do. If you dread going in to work each day, then your life in general will suffer. There are always mitigating factors, but loving what you do and who you do it with always rises to the top in the end.

    Posted on April 11th, 2010 at 19:21

  2. Chris W Says:

    An interesting blog, Dame Sara.

    Earlier in my career I remember resigning from a role where I had been instrumental to the success of the business. It was a tough decision, and one I agonised over for a long time. Had it not been for the chance that my then boss had given me, I would never have stepped onto the career path that I find myself.

    Having declared my intention to leave, the rest of my day comprised 6hrs in a room with my boss whilst he literally cried, shouted, begged, offered vast sums of money and used many other techniques to try to persuade me not to leave. I remember it to this day, and I still find it difficult to reconcile in my head.

    Underneath, he (like most employers) knew that staff will move on. I knew that my team were strong and that life would carry on without me. Unsurprisingly it did, and the business is still going strong today. Those who had supported me stepped up, and took the next step in their careers.

    Personally I would not wish that “resignation debrief” on anyone, and it left a lasting impression with me. No-one should ever feel guilty about moving-on, provided you do it with integrity, continue to do your best during your notice period, and provide a decent hand-over.

    “Integrity” is a word I use a lot. If I can look myself in the mirror in the morning and genuinely believe I have done the best I can in a given situtation, I cannot do any more than that. Even when I have had to take the difficult decision to dismiss an employee, they have always understood. Often ‘releasing them’ was the best thing that could happen to them, and many have gone on to be far more successful than they could ever have been on the path that they were previously travelling.

    It is my personal opinion, a decent manager cares about their team, and wants the best for them as individuals, as well as wanting the best for the business. If you are able to both inspire and support your team, and offer them what they need to progress then they, in turn, will reward you with the effort they put in.

    A lesson every manager has to learn is that most of your employees are *not* your friends, although you may be lucky enough that one or two become friends – often after they move on! However, that obviously does not mean you can’t be friendly to each other.

    To be an effective manager you will regularly have to take decisions your team may not like – and in some cases many not understand. This is where it is critical that your team trust and respect you. If they do, they will follow your instructions to the best of their ability, even if they don’t necessary understand why. In time, the reason often becomes clear.

    The impact on a middle manager when an employee leaves is less personal. For a business owner, it can be more of a blow. However, most business owners are entrepreneurs. They are likely to have been aggressive in persuing their career and, once rationality enters the room, they will understand and respect your decision better than most.

    One of my philosophies in life is to “never close a door unless you have to”. Leaving a job and moving onto a new one doesn’t necessarily mean that previous path is now closed to you. The people you meet as you travel your career path may be enormously valuable to you and, later in life, you may find yourself employing them!

    I would pick up on your point of “asking for a code review”. Although a good idea, not all employers will be up for this. Paranoia is strong, and an employer has to protect their IP. Also, it is necessary to understand an employers reasons for hiring you – and this may be something they cannot always explictly express. It may be that the code base is a load of Pony, and perhaps the intent is that you become instrumental in changing that. However, often politics dictates that a hiring manager will not be able to voice that. Therefore you need to be wary that you don’t discount an opportunity, as you may not have the full picture.

    Location is also another interesting aspect of a job move. Often a job may not be ideally placed, but it can be a critical career step. The balance of work vs. life is always a tricky one. Do you live-to-work, or work-to-live?

    I remember one job I had where my boss and I were sent to close down a factory that the company had bought. We were both (literally) beaten-up on our first day, and my boss quit and walked out. I stuck it out, and learned how to overcome the extreme nature of that situation. I possibly learnt more from working with and winning those people over, than I have from anything else in my career. We may not always why life throws some of the things it does at us until much later on. Sometimes it just continues to elude us!

    Self-belief is an important attribute. If you are good at what you do, and you believe in yourself, there is little that can reallygo wrong. If you make a bad job move, then what’s the worst that can happen? Give it a try, and give it time. If it’s not right, move on again. The world is desparate for *good* developers. Many talk-the-talk, few can crawl-the-crawl, let alone walk-the-walk.

    I’m certainly no John Harvey-Jones. I have made many mistakes in my career. Most I have learnt from. A few I will no doubt make again. I have, however, been fortunate for the great opportunities afforded me by at least two managers. I will be forever grateful for that, and they know they could call on me again at any time if the need arose.

    In the words of that great philosopher, Ronan Keating, “Life is a rollercoaster”.

    Posted on April 11th, 2010 at 20:08

  3. jamie Says:

    Work Life Balance – should be included too. I’d say its the defacto reason for any job change. Ok if your single its different set of balances on the work life choice but what about if you have two young children a wife with stage IIIC breast cancer and no debts.
    Its your personal circumstances that should really drive the decision. If you can tolerate a job and it allows you to persue your own endevours, stay on the other hand, if you thrive on challenges and your not getting them go.
    Don’t over complicate it like Chris W has, go with your instincts and your feelings.

    Posted on April 30th, 2011 at 10:43

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