Many people who are happy in their work are seduced into changing jobs. What could be more ego-gratifying than a call from someone trying to talk you into a hot job?
Being wanted is a powerful motivator, especially if it comes with a larger paycheck. However, some have impulsively taken new jobs only to find themselves wishing for their old job or, worse, even more confused about their career direction.
Unless you're being tortured or aggressively underpaid, here are the best reasons to resist the siren call of a new opportunity until you're sure it's the right move for your career. (This does not preclude going on interviews to learn all you can about the job.)
You love what you do. You may not be paid as much as you like, you may lack rapport with your boss and co-workers, but the job continues to interest you. We know people in law enforcement, teaching, writing, even marketing, who don't think about anything but what they're doing this minute. Why should they think about change until money matters to them?
Most job elements are in balance. You may not be in nirvana, but you have the right mix of learning, challenge, accomplishment and time commitment. Your boss is reasonable and your co-workers are tolerable. The organization is chugging along if not burning up the track. When you are in this situation, enjoying work is a duty. Unfortunately, most people don't recognize they are in balance until something happens to put them out of balance.
You're midway through an important project. It doesn't matter if the project is important only to you. It's a must do. If you are seduced away, won't you always regret not playing out the hand, especially since every sign is that it's a winner? If you were an actor in a hot play, would you really give up the curtain call? There will be other jobs. Protect your resume by finishing the project in triumph.
Your personal life is in turmoil. Your marriage is shaky. Your parents face severe health problems. Your children aren't doing well in school. Add a new job to this list and don't be surprised if you need medical attention, too. We see many people who believe opportunities are nonrecurring events. If you don't take a specific one, you're finished. Not so. The people who changed jobs during a divorce or the death of a parent are typically less effective in their new position. Some never recover from their rocky starts and end up job hunting again within six months. Why put yourself through that?
A promotion may be close at hand. Maybe your boss is about to retire. If you want the job, you have a time frame in which to impress the big boss that you are the right person for the job.
Your friends are your co-workers. There is such compatibility between you and some of your co-workers that you socialize outside of work. This is rare, but those who experience it exhibit high levels of job - and personal - satisfaction. They wouldn't dream of having a party without the office crowd, much less an important life event. The downside may be accusations of exclusivity and the fact that you may be vulnerable without your support system.
There is a possibility of severance or an early retirement package. Call it greed or prudence. If this is a possibility, it's worth waiting - so long as you're productive and not bored mindless. In the case of one worker who endured two years of uncertainty, the company awarded sixty weeks severance, a year's health insurance, and 20 weeks accumulated vacation.
The company is debuting a new product or service you believe in. The company has made mistakes and backed losers in the past, but you think the ship is in the harbor with the new product. You'll miss the debut if you leave in the next six months. Why not wait around to see how it will do, working diligently for positive results? Even if the product doesn't stun the industry, you will learn things you can't learn elsewhere - perhaps including some things not to do. Besides, this is the most exciting event in your six years with the company. What's another six months?
You don't want to relocate. If it were a choice between welfare and moving, you'd go, but you really love the area where you currently live. The community, the schools, the topography are perfect for you, your family and your lifestyle.
Any one or more of these factors is enough to justify holding onto the job you have. No matter how alluring another offer may be.
SIDEBAR: Reaons to hang on when the job is a roller coaster
Reasons to hang on when the job is a roller coaster
Anyone who's paying attention can sense when a job is bad - or is going downhill fast. For instance, the company or the department is failing, management is a revolving door, or the product/service has slipped into obsolescence. When that happens, the choice to stay or go is determined by each individual's financial and personal circumstances.
But what about the job that has extreme highs and lows, enthralling one day and purgatory the next? Such a job can be a serious cause of misery. It can happen anywhere but usually it's a job whose results are measurable: sales, marketing, or any of the glamour industries. People tend to remain in jobs like these because the manic/depressive atmosphere makes them doubt their judgment about what works for them and what doesn't.
If your job is an emotional yo-yo, it's time to determine what factors keep you there. Do you have a great boss? Sometimes a good boss simply outweighs every other element because you are working for and learning from a great leader. Perhaps you are working for the industry giant and even though you're in a backwater, the glow descends to your area. Many people endure less-than-ideal working conditions to be in the ultimate industry or with the ultimate guru. They complain but they don't leave.
Here are some other reasons to stay in an unpredictable environment:
You're learning. Skills and knowledge acquisition should be the number one issue in whether to flee or endure. During the dot-com frenzy, there were many who went along for the ride not necessarily for the potential financial reward, but because they wanted entrepreneurial skills. If you are acquiring skills you can't get elsewhere, job satisfaction must be lower on your list. The same is true if you're acquiring contacts that you couldn't get elsewhere.
You enjoy the excitement. There are a lot of people who bore very easily. For them, excitement is a non-negotiable. Many ER physicians chose emergency medicine because they love the highs; it's exciting work much of the time. If you know you'd only leave your job for more of the same, you're getting what you want.
The reward is worth it. How many people took a risk during the dot-com craze because they were betting on the outcome? They gave 150 percent despite the risk because the potential for riches was there. Several dot-com refugees say they'd do it again.
Go or Stay? Ultimately pain is the common denominator. If you get more pleasure than pain, stay. If not, move on.