Should I stay or should I go?
The ‘Great Resignation’ saw millions of people around the world leaving their jobs in search of better — better salaries, better opportunities, better work cultures, more flexibility, and myriad other more personal and individual reasons besides.
This was somewhat of a phenomenon that surfaced amid the pandemic, but wanting to leave a job is nothing new, many of us want to do it every day. Some of us are happy in our roles and companies, but wonder whether this is enough, whether opportunities elsewhere are passing them by. After all, shouldn’t we always strive to push and challenge ourselves? A lofty topic for another day perhaps, but one question remains…
…how do we really know when it’s the right time to leave or to stay in a role?
Knowing when to leave
‘There is no right or wrong time to move,’ says James Manders, managing director of specialist recruiters CassonX. ‘The right time is when you want to.’
Knowing this, however, can be tricky, says Lee Owen, a director at Hays specialising in accountancy & finance recruitment. ‘It’s worth noting that you will always be left with “what-ifs?” regardless of the path you take.’
Indeed, if you’re very happy and enjoy your job, why leave? It might mean an average and infrequent pay rises, you might even just get a pat on the back or a well done, but that might be enough for you if you’re happy. ‘Whereas if you leave, you can earn more, learn new things, gain new experiences and push yourself,’ says Manders.
Even if the decision to move is clear as day, doubts or worries will niggle. ‘If you have no doubts in your mind about moving on, then clearly it’s the right decision, but most people will probably be going through a list of pros and cons in their head and feeling unsure whether they are making the right choice. Very basic tip – but writing this list down can be very helpful,’ says Talia King, Head of Product at HR software develop Connectr.
As well as a pros and cons list, Owen recommends considering how many of the following apply to how you feel:
- Your role is repetitive
- There’s no room for progression
- Undervalued for your contribution
- You’ve lost your passion and drive
- You feel compelled to look for a new job
- The purpose of the business no longer aligns to your expectations and ethics
Additionally, King recommends delving further:
- Do you feel empowered, or are you being micromanaged?
- Are you mentored, whether by a leader or peers?
- Are you being paid fairly, commensurate with your seniority, performance and level of experience?
‘If you’re ticking a lot of these boxes, you ought to consider leaving,’ says Owen. ‘Over time, these factors will have a negative impact on your well-being, confidence and overall career success.’
But before jumping ship feet first, make your employer aware of your misgivings, give them a chance to address it. ‘It could be there is more they could be doing to make it the right environment for you to thrive,’ says King.
But then again, even if you don’t feel any of the above or answer any of the questions with a ‘no’, perhaps it’s still time to leave, maybe you’re excited about an opportunity and it’s time to take a leap of faith.
Dazzled by the demand for finance professionals
Sometimes the desire to leave can be stronger than the rationale to stay, even if fundamentally things aren’t all the bad at your current employer. The candidate-driven market for finance professionals in many parts of the world might seem tempting, with people receiving big offers and big promises from big names.
Perhaps you’re seeing plenty of colleagues and peers leaving for seemingly grand opportunities and you fear being left behind, suffering the age-old syndromes of FOMO — fear of missing out — wishful thinking and that there’s always something better just out of sight.
‘Today’s candidate-driven market can create the belief among professionals that the grass is greener on the other side. Ultimately though, it’s important to make the best out of whatever you choose – whether you remain in your current role or embrace change,’ says Owen.
It is very flattering to be in demand, but at the end of the day it’s your career, you make the final decision about staying or going. To help with this, Manders recommends approaching interest from a potential employer as an opportunity for you to interview them — it’s your career, you’re taking the risk of leaving a job, so if they want you, they must be right for you.
‘I don't care if they come kicking and screaming for your services and want to offer you a million a year, if you don't want the job, don’t move forward. You've got to be able to walk away from the process if it’s not the right move for you,’ he says.
When it feels right to stay
Go back to your pros and cons list and consider closely the things important to you and your career, the inroads and achievements you’ve made at your employer, and what the future might hold were you to stay.
‘If you believe your role presents a genuine opportunity to progress and be appreciated, this will significantly contribute to your career satisfaction. If you have built strong relationships with your colleagues that benefit your mental health, this is another good reason to consider staying put,’ says Owen.
Also consider your life outside of work, recommends King. ‘If there is a lot of change happening – eg moving house, having a baby etc – it might be best to have consistency from a work perspective for that period of time and to tackle job change once life has calmed down a bit — take life a step at a time.’
Lastly, always consider the economic climate. If storm clouds are gathering, is your current employer capable of weathering the storm, if yes, staying might be sensible, if not, a move might be prudent.