In a previous post 3 bad reasons to change job, I presented 3 reasons which people usually give when changing jobs, but which are really bad reasons to do so. Subsequently, I was asked what are good reasons to change jobs, and hence this post.
A job is a promise of fair exchange between you and your organization – you promise to deliver results for the organization, and the organization promises to provide you with financial incentives in exchange. Both sides believe they get a fair deal in this bargain (which is true for any fair-market exchange). This exchange takes place through your manager, who representative organization to you, and you to the organization.
In addition to financial incentive, you can also get non-financial ones, like learning new skills, visiting new places, meeting new people etc. which you might value a lot. In a stable state, organization gets great results delivered through you, and you get great financial and non-financial gains from the organization. Higher the alignment of non-financial gains to your career goals, higher the value you assign to these gains. Of course, this assumes that you have defined your career goals to some level of detail; if you haven’t, then you have a bigger problem to worry about!
Manager plays a crucial role in this exchange. Organization relies on the manager to quantify the value being created by you through your results delivery (through the often dreaded performance appraisal process). You rely on the manager to derive your financial and non-financial gains from the organization. So manager is an important piece in this exchange and can strongly influence the outcome for each party.
Given this market-style definition of a job, let me present 3 good reasons to change job. However, please note that it may not always be clear that you are encountering one or more of these. So it is always a good idea to do a simple check from time to time by asking yourself this question: Am I having fun at work, and am I looking forward to another day at work? When answers consistently come negative, it is time to investigate more.
You give much more than you receive
This means that your financial and non-financial gains are much less compared to what you give to the organization. This is an unfair exchange and you are losing, so you must cut your losses and move on. It is also important to keep an eye on each of the gains (financial and non-financial) even when overall gains seem fine:
- Very low financial gains, high non-financial gains – When your non-financial gains are high, they may compensate for your financial shortfalls. It is important to see if your financial goals are being met. If not, it is time to move on. However, if the financial stability is ensured (though your bank balance might not be growing as much as your friend’s), non-financial gains is great to have and this is a good situation to be in. Typically this situation is encountered in early phases of the career.
- Very low non-financial gains, high financial gains – It is important to keep an eye on the extent of non-financial gains, since they build your stock value and make you more valuable for the next company and years to come. If the non-financial component is very less, you should consider changing job even when the financial gains seem to compensate for the non-financial shortfall. An example is when you are asked to do highly repetitive/mundane work (though critical for the company) which doesn’t give you any learning but the salary is good. Keep doing it for years, and your career will get irreparable damage though your bank balance will be fine. Typically, this is encountered in middle phase of the career.
You give much less than you receive
This means that your financial gains are much more than what you give to the organization (since organizations don’t typically look at your non-financial gains when comparing the fair exchange value). This may sound like a contrarian advice to change the job in this situation, because it is great to get paid much more than what you offer in value. However, staying in such a situation for long makes you complacent, and vulnerable to changing market dynamics (since organization is getting much less value for its money, it is much more likely to react to get rid of you). For example, you may be a highly-paid senior employee in a company that does cutting edge technology work and your expertise is highly desirable for the company, but your salary has grown so much over the years that it hurts the company (and you may be paid much more than your peers in other industries). This will happen in niche industries where talent is scarce and deep expertise is required. This is also reached when you become too senior in the company but there is no space to grow beyond your current level.
Your manager is not your well-wisher
As mentioned above, manager is a crucial link in the exchange between you and the organization. When the manager doesn’t have your best interests at their heart, you are not in a place where your career can succeed, and you must change your job. There have been many cases (read my earlier post ‘Is your manager killing your career aspiration‘ to see one of the ways manager can be problematic) of managers adversely impacting a career, and when you encounter such a manager, you must change your job.
A note on ‘change the job’ advice is in order: this doesn’t always translate into changing the company. Depending on the kind of issue you find yourself facing, sometimes it could mean moving to a new part of the organization, or taking a new role. Change is the operative word here: something must be different in the new state, and a new company is just one (though the most common) dimension that can be changed when changing a job.