I tend to hang on to my jobs for too long. It might be out of some sense of loyalty, not wanting to feel like a failure, or just out of fear of the unknown that I stay. It is a huge decision to switch employers. There is so much that you really can’t ask in an interview. It takes a leap of faith. After my time in public accounting, I took a position in the telecommunications industry as a financial analyst. The package I was offered was significantly higher than what I was making at the time. Better pay, better health insurance, a 401k match, and highly discounted cable and internet. The package was so good, I couldn’t turn it down.
My conviction about my decision faded after only three months. Seriously, three months! I knew it wasn’t right, but at that point it was too late. It looks pretty bad on a resume to leave a job after three to six months, so I decided to stick it out. I always seemed to make excuses for why I shouldn’t leave. Pride, the promise of a new supervisor, the potential of a bonus, an extra week of vacation time, and on and on. I wasn’t happy, but I felt stuck.
Even so, I had been casually looking for new jobs for almost a year. I wasn’t applying for everything that I saw, but I was always on the look-out. I would search job postings every couple weeks and apply for the things that sounded right. I wasn’t going to rush into anything this time around. It had to be pretty close to perfect.
I got a call back on a job I had applied for and eventually interviewed for a senior accountant role. Things went well and they ended up making me an offer. Crap, now I had to make a decision! I am terrible at making decisions. It’s one thing to look and interview, but to actually leave? After my experience with the telecommunications company, I was particularly gun-shy about taking a new position. There is so much unknown! I had to ask myself the following questions…
Do I enjoy what I do? Do I think I would enjoy this new thing? The job that was described to me when I interviewed at the telecommunications company was not what I ended up doing. I was told that I would be doing trend analysis and other high-level work, but I ended up with a role that was primarily data-entry. This left me feeling very under-utilized. Lynn Taylor suggests that feeling under-utilized is one of the ten things that might indicate that it is time to leave your job in her Psychology Today blog post 10 Signs It’s Time to Quit Your Job. I felt that the new employer recognized my skill set and that is really important to me. I didn’t get my CPA license for my own personal benefit! I want to use it!
Is my current job secure? Will the new one be? The bottom line here is that I didn’t think my job at the telecommunications company was secure. Since I had started working there, the company had reorganized twice, with individual departments experiencing separate restructurings as a result of this. After four months of working there, I was told that I needed to reapply for my position. This was retracted two months later, when they told me that my position was exempt from the restructuring. I sat back and watched several of my co-workers and friends re-apply, interview, and either get re-hired or laid-off. After about a year of working there, my department started working on an initiative to automate our jobs. This meant that eventually the company wouldn’t need people to perform our jobs. I didn’t want to wait around to get laid off because that would put me in a desperate position. It’s hard to tell if any job is secure. My new position is in the restaurant industry and there has been significant growth in the past few years. In addition, the skills that I will be using at my new job are much more portable and marketable.
Do I like my boss? Will I like the new one? Whew, this is a tough one! There is a big difference between liking someone as a person and respecting them as a boss. My newly appointed manager had no experience in the area that I worked in. My co-workers and I had been working very independently and we were all good about getting things done on time. This level of self-motivation clashed with my new boss’ management style. This manager had said several times that her goal was not to micro-manage, but that is exactly what she did. As for the new boss, you never really know if you are going to like working for someone until you actually work for them. I had a really good feeling about the new one, and I could tell that this boss recognized the value that I could add to the team.
Does the new job offer a better title? Moving from a financial analyst role to a senior accounting role gave me a better title that conveys the years of experience I have. This is a definite plus. It’s actually pretty rare to be hired into a senior level role out of a non-senior level role in the finance/accounting field. Usually you have to enter the position at the staff level and get promoted internally. This senior level role will be a great resume builder for me!
Does the new job have better pay and benefits? This was a tough one for me. The base salary being offered was the same, but the benefits were significantly less. It’s hard to beat the package I was offered when I came to the telecommunications company. No longer would I have premium health insurance. Forget about that highly discounted cable and internet! But there are other things that come into play here. In Jennifer Derrick’s article entitled 12 Cases When a Pay Cut Might Make Sense, she states that “to pursue anything other than higher pay goes against what we’ve been taught.” However, she goes on to say that a pay cut may not always be the worst thing. She offers many reasons, one of which really resonated with me. She says that it is not a bad idea to leave your job:
To save your health (physical or mental): If you hate your job or your boss is a toxic SOB, you may be better off taking a pay cut to go somewhere else. Your mental health is worth more than money.
To not have the constant stress and uncertainty about whether I was going to get laid off, and to actually have satisfaction about my work made the move seem worth it to me. It was hard to let go of such a great benefits package, but in the long run I think it will be the best decision for me.
I made that blind leap. I left my job. Interestingly enough, two days after my last day at the telecommunications company, I found out that my co-workers had been informed that their jobs were being moved to corporate. Unless people were willing to move to South Carolina, they would be out of a job within the next year. I’m so glad I got out! And I haven’t looked back! The new job is so interesting and there is so much I can learn from it. I also feel that I will have a lot to contribute to the team, which is an awesome feeling!