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Build for success > Tough Tales of Transition > Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

By Galia Barhava-Monteith

I’m a mid-level manager in a large consumer goods company. I’ve been with the same company since I graduated from university five years ago and I’ve advanced quite quickly. I still like the company but I’m beginning to feel a bit restless. I think it’s because all my friends have now moved on from their first jobs and many have gone overseas.

I’m not quite sure what to do and thought I’d write in to get some ideas. Hope you can help me.

We’re glad to answer this question.

When you leave university and start your first job as a graduate, it brings such a sense of achievement. The recruiting process is behind you. Applying for your first professional job was probably a bit scary but at least you knew the people you were competing with were all in the same boat as you.

The next move can be that much harder. You are now potentially being measured against people with a lot more experience than you. You’re also going to undergo a very different selection process. For a start, this is one you probably need to be more discreet about. Welcome to the world of private phone calls and ‘medical appointments’.
You have two broad options, to stay put or to start actively searching for your next move.

Staying Put

It is not uncommon for graduates to stay in the same company for a large number of years. This is particularly true in large New Zealand companies that offer a variety of exciting career opportunities.

  • In making your decision you might want to ask yourself the following questions:
  • Can you see yourself in this company in the next 5 years? 10 years?
  • Are there solid career opportunities in this company?
  • Is your company one where women can reach senior positions?
  • Is your company good at providing learning and development opportunities?

When you start your career everything you do is a learning and development opportunity, but after a while you might want some more structured opportunities to help expand your skill set. So perhaps the most important question of all is: does your company have a great culture with lots of highly capable people from whom you can keep learning?

If the answer to most of these questions is a resounding YES, we want to know where you work and we’ll probably apply for a job there ourselves!

 More seriously, some companies are good on some of the aspects outlined above but weak on others. If your company is one of those, then you need to figure out for yourself which of these aspects is most important to you. Once you’ve done that, the decision will become a lot easier.

Benefits

  • The obvious one is that staying is much less risky and unsettling than moving on. As my father would say, why would you change if things are going so well?
  • You’re a known quantity at your current firm and you have the potential to keep advancing to senior levels. The speed of advancement could be faster in a company where you’re known.
  • In a large company you can always take a sideways move and learn new skills without having to go through the new-company-adjustment period.

Disadvantages

  • From our experience, the longer you stay in one company the more difficult it becomes to make the next move.
  • Many employers now look for variety in CVs. They want to see that you have the ability to change and adjust well to change.
  • If you don’t respond to that restless feeling, it may not leave you. Sometimes you just need a change!

Moving On

We are almost tempted to say that moving on can’t hurt but the truth is it can. If you decide to look for new options, do keep in mind that you might be rejected a few times and it is never easy for our self-esteem to be rejected. At the time, the thought that it’s all been a really good learning and growing experience can seem cold comfort.

If you decide to look for new options, you can always try the wanted ads in the newspaper or one of the online jobs sites. A different route is to begin with identifying a recruitment company that specialises in your area of expertise or industry. Seek advice and direction from them.

If you decide to apply directly, you need to consider writing your CV and cover letter and how to prepare for an interview.

Benefits

  • Going through the exercise of searching for a new role can help you focus and perhaps re-direct your career, regardless of the outcome. It is hard to take the time to think strategically about your career this will force you to do it.
  • You will learn new things and new skills through the exercise.
  • It’s always good to get outside your comfort zone every now and again! Change can be a great thing; it can teach us a lot about ourselves and help us grow professionally and personally.

Disadvantages

  • It can be very time consuming.
  • You’ll need to be very careful in how you conduct yourself so that your current employer doesn’t come to see you as disloyal.
  • If you’re rejected, this can potentially undermine your confidence.

We wish you good luck with navigating this issue and working out what is right for your situation.

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