Consider This Before You Leave Your Job
Don’t miss the underrated benefit of staying at one company long-term
There came a point, about three years into my first job, where I wanted to leave. I felt as if I had reached a plateau and was no longer learning as much as I could.
Not one for boredom, I started looking.
My first interview was at a startup that was developing an exciting new technology. I loved the atmosphere and the prospect of working on a product that could change the industry.
When I found out I didn’t get the job, I was disappointed.
I could only see the opportunity that had been lost, not what I might have gained.
I continued my job search a bit longer but nothing felt right. Eventually, I decided to abandon the interview process and instead focus on a big project coming up at work. It seemed far off and I was impatient. But, it had the potential to challenge me and allow me to continue learning.
As it turned out, this project was a turning point in my career. I gained customer experience, became known as an expert in my role, and helped launch a leading product for the company. It kick-started a period of growth that led me to a huge promotion a year and a half later.
I’m so grateful that I didn’t leave.
The Benefit of Sticking It Out
I’m no stranger to a career advice podcast or a personal finance blog. On these platforms, it’s not unusual for a question to come up about whether or not a frustrated employee should look for a new job. When this happens, the host is usually quick to point out that it is easier to increase your income by changing jobs.
While this is true, I believe the advice is short-sighted.
When you arrive at a company, you start making connections and demonstrating your skills. This starts to build something I’ll call “reputation capital”.
Every time you make a positive impression on a colleague, they subconsciously store their feelings from that interaction. When the positive interactions accumulate over time, that person will be more likely to want to work with you. They’ll tell others why you’re great.
After you spend a few years in one place, building a network of supporters, you are more likely to be top of mind for new opportunities. That person you helped out with an assignment 2 years ago? Now they’re hiring for a new role that you’re interested in.
Those years of positive reputation capital can make you an easy pick for the new position.
In my case, changing jobs would have meant starting over to re-establish my reputation at a new company. Though exciting, I would have forfeited the network I had built through years of hard work.
Staying with my company through a period of frustration led to a big opportunity.
It allowed me to advance faster and earn more than job-hopping would have.
Before Leaving, Do This
Before you decide to leave a job, talk to your manager about how you feel. Discuss what you love about your job, why you are frustrated, and how you want to develop. It’s okay if what you want to do doesn’t completely align with your current role. Together, you may be able to come up with a solution that satisfies everyone.
It’s always better to ask than to assume the answer is no.
One of my mentors (who leads a 50 person team) recently shared with me her dissatisfaction upon receiving an email about a team member’s departure after they have accepted another role.
She would much prefer them to share their feelings early on, so she can find a way to satisfy and retain them.
Of course, there are many good reasons to leave a job. A toxic work environment, poor company vision, or lack of work-life balance might be irreparable. However, if you are thinking about leaving for more money or greater responsibility, consider the future opportunities you are leaving on the table.
Staying might be more valuable than starting over — talk to your manager and colleagues to find out.
Prior to my promotion, there came a time where I knew that I was ready to move on from my current role. I expressed to my manager that although I loved the team and the technology we were working on, I wanted to get experience in another area of the business.
This initiated conversations that led to my participation in a job rotation program, where I was able to spend 3 months gaining the experience I craved. It was a win-win for both of us.
To reap the benefits of your company, it is important to stay there as long as you have room to grow. The longer you stay, the more reputation capital you will build. This will give you influence and open up new opportunities.
Don’t leave your company unless there is no more room to grow.
You’ll miss out on the long-term benefits of staying.