Studies conducted in the USA show that almost half of employees are outrightly dissatisfied with their current job, while a whopping 81 percent of those in employment are actively searching for a new job, or immediately planning to embark on a search. In a country where the work conditions are not as employee-friendly, one can only assume that if such studies were conducted in Nigeria, the numbers would be even poorer.
Most, if not all of us, reach the point where we are totally fed up with our current roles. It may be the routine, the work environment, dissatisfaction, pay, career stagnation, etc. But, there are good reasons for leaving a job, and there are not-so-good reasons. It is possible to be so blinded by your current circumstances that you end up jumping into worse circumstances. Whilst a new job is hardly a lifelong commitment, it could be difficult to recover from the effects of joining the wrong place, or even the right place at the wrong time.
A good test handed down to me by a senior friend is that as far as employment opportunities go, one should be pulled and not pushed. What this means is that as a general rule, one should leave a current role only because s/he feels s/he is being called to something better, and not (merely) because s/he is being pushed into the job market by his or her current circumstances.
Below is a list of some of the factors you need to consider, and questions that you should ask yourself if you find that you have decided to ‘jump ship’.
This article (and the others in this series), focuses on employees who are considering leaving their current jobs for largely the same job in another organization.
Establish what you are looking for
Whilst this article seeks to highlight some factors you should take into account when you are considering quitting your job, all of these factors will be subject to your personal circumstances. It is important to set out clearly if you haven’t done so, the things that you feel are important to you in any role. This could be autonomy, variety, pay, friendly work environment, among many other things.
Is your current job really that bad?
Once you have established the things that are important to you, it is important to then assess as objectively as possible how your current job measures up. Get as practical as possible; write out a list of the factors that are important to you and rate your current job or place of employment on a scale of 1 – 10 on each of those factors.
If you are able to do this objectively, you would begin to gain a better picture of why it is you have decided to leave. Where possible, to get a fresh/different perspective, ask colleagues for their opinion on how your workplace performs on each of those fronts.
This exercise would help you to be able to determine if the situation at your current place of employment is salvageable. Again, it is important to be as objective as possible. Consider speaking to a trusted senior about your contemplation, but be extremely careful to ensure that this person is someone you can trust and who will not betray your trust.
Rating your current job based on the factors you consider important will also help you identify the things to look out for in your next role so that you avoid jumping from frying pan to fire.
Have you gained enough experience?
Millennials are often accused of serial job-hopping. They are seen as being largely unable to stay in a job for longer than a year or two. This is in large contrast to the baby boomers that characteristically spent decades on the same job, and pride themselves in their long service awards.
Whilst it may not be necessary to put strict timelines on job roles (some people say two years), there are many benefits of staying in the same place of employment for a decent amount of time.
Most people are not automatically good at their jobs or careers. They need time to hone their skills, grow in the job and get to the place where they feel like they really understand what they are doing. This usually cannot be achieved after a few months, or years, in some cases. It is usually advisable to begin considering changing organizations at a point in one’s career where one reasonably understands the profession and the direction in which one is looking to steer one’s career. Again, this is usually not after a few months.
Besides, it’s easier to market yourself for a new job when you have been at your last one for at least a decent amount of time. A string of ten-month stints does not give an employer confidence in your loyalty, maturity or ability to persevere.
The prospect of promotion in itself is a very important factor to consider when deciding whether or not to work at a particular organization. Depending on the circumstances, when it becomes clear that you are constantly being passed up for promotions, it might be wise to leave before it is too late.
However, promotion considerations could be even more important when making a switch. This is because some organizations are known to favour the homegrown employees when it comes to promotions. They feel that these employees better understand the organization’s culture or just deserve the promotions because they have done their time.
So even though you feel that you may be due a promotion at a certain time because you would’ve been due that promotion in your former place of work, there may be a period of time where you may be required to “pay your dues” before you are considered for a promotion in your new place of employment.
Though as they say, money is not everything, it is still important to consider.
It may seem that you are being offered more money on your prospective new job, but consider increased expenses on things like transport for instance. Also, take into consideration benefits you receive at your current organization (lunch, cell phone allowance, medical, etc.) that you may now be required to pay for out of your “increased” income.
Is there something else going on?
Sometimes it’s easy to blame work for the stress we endure, but it could be personal issues, poor health or sleep habits, or even laziness that it the real problem. It is advisable to get to the root of the problem to avoid getting a new job only to face the same issues.
In summary, when considering a job change, ask yourself “am I taking a good job, or really just running away from a bad one”. The intention of this article is not to dissuade you from leaving your current place of employment for what you perceive to be greener pastures. It merely seeks to ensure that you have considered both sides of the equation before making such an important decision.
If you are in a place of employment where you feel that your health (mental or physical) is at risk, it would be advisable to leave!
Yimika Adesola is the Founder of Legally Engaged and an Associate in the Corporate/Commercial law arm of a top-tier Nigerian law firm.
She advises blue-chip companies on various areas of law including mergers, acquisitions and capital raisings, restructurings, taxation, finance, employment, and compliance.
She seeks to provide direction to students and young professionals by providing them with the information they need to launch successful careers and make better career decisions. Follow Yimika on LinkedIn here.