Facing a Career Crossroad: Should You Stay or Should You Go?

November 13, 2023

pictured: four signs saying "career" and pointing in different directionsShould you stay in your current job, or should you go?

In my recent blog posts, I delved deep into recognizing the red flags that might signal it's time to reconsider your current job, as well as the green flags that indicate you're right where you should be.

But what should you do once you've identified these signs?

How do you navigate the nuanced process of deciding whether to stay or go?

Making a career decision, especially one as significant as whether to stay in or leave a job, is one of the most critical decisions you’ll make. Deciding whether to push through challenges or when to seek new opportunities is rarely straightforward. It's filled with variables, personal values, and considerations that will be unique to you.

Let’s explore how to process these signals and make an informed decision that feels right.

Balancing the Red and Green Flags

First and foremost, no job is perfect. Recognizing that every position will have its mix of pros and cons is crucial.

Your goal is not to find a job without challenges, but rather to find one where the challenges are balanced by rewards and where you see a positive trajectory for your future.

Quantify the Flags

Create a list of all the red and green flags you've identified. Assign a weight to each based on what’s important to you. For example, if work-life balance is a top priority, you would give it more weight than something else. This will provide a clearer picture of which issues or benefits are mere inconveniences and which are deal-breakers or major positives.

Assess Personal Impact

Reflect on how these flags affect you, both personally and professionally. Are the red flags causing stress, impacting your relationships, or stifling your growth? Conversely, are the green flags promoting your personal well-being, driving your career development, and giving you a sense of purpose?

Seek External Perspectives

Talk to mentors, a career coach, trusted colleagues, and your friends. These discussions can provide you with a fresh, external perspective and help you see things you might have missed or validate what you've been feeling. Keep in mind: Your perspective matters the most! But it’s easy to get stuck in a singular perspective. Use these conversations to help you think more broadly.

Questions to Ponder

The world isn’t static. There’s often room for change, either on your end or somewhere else… within reason! Here are some additional things to think about.

Can the Red Flags Be Addressed?

Before making a move, consider if there's room for change. Can a conversation with your supervisor or HR address some of the issues? Would a small move (perhaps internal to the company?) create enough of a shift to mitigate the red flags?

Is There a Future Here?

If you can see yourself growing, learning, and advancing in your current position, it might be worth staying, even if there are red flags. If there's no clear future, it might be time to consider other opportunities.

What Are Your Personal and Career Goals?

What you want for yourself matters! Ideally, your job is a stepping stone toward achieving your broader objectives. If it's diverting you from what you want for yourself, it's worth reconsidering.

Looking Ahead

Now that you’ve looked at both red and green flags, what’s next?

If you decide it's time to move on, remember that it’s best to do your job hunting while still employed because it offers advantages. You're less pressured to accept the first offer that comes along, allowing you to be more selective. Furthermore, having current employment can be appealing to potential employers.

On the other hand, if you decide to stay, be proactive in addressing any red flags. Open up lines of communication, seek opportunities for growth that appeal to you, and regularly revisit your feelings to ensure you remain aligned with your career trajectory.

Ultimately, the decision to stay or move on from a job is deeply personal and complex. It involves weighing the good against the bad, and also considering your long-term aspirations and personal well-being. By thoughtfully evaluating both red and green flags and seeking external advice, you can make better decisions that align with what you want for yourself.

Remember: The goal isn’t to make a perfect decision, but a more-informed one. Trust your gut, trust the process, and know that each decision you make moves you closer to a more fulfilling career.

What if you could find out about job openings before they were posted?

Download the guide, The Secret to Getting to the Front of the Line, and learn how to access the hidden job market.

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