“Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

My recent post on readiness (http://wp.me/1ldQq) prompted several people to ask about why people decide to leave their current position. 

Most people leave their current job for one of five reasons.  Some reasons have to do with being ready but many do not.  Consider which reasons may apply to your current situation.

1)      The Boss Factor: People don’t leave their jobs, they leave their manager.  No other relationship is as important as the one who is responsible for providing feedback and approving your paycheck.  If working conditions become strained, employees will often seek new opportunities. Is your current supervisory relationship working in a way that is beneficial both to you and to your boss? How can you improve this?


2)      Geographic Constraints:  Small-town guy living in NYC?  Urban professional working in a rural community?  Are you working far away from your family and wish you lived closer?  Sometimes the best jobs may not be in the locations that we would personally prefer.  While the allure of a great job may be attractive, the position itself might not be enough to keep you if your personal values are not congruent with your current living conditions.   Will living in a certain area improve your quality of life?  What are the market realities of being able to find a position in this specific area?


3)      3 Years and Up?: Sometimes people job search because they are adhering to a traditional model of career progression.  The old notions of spending three years in an entry-level job and five years in a mid-level role, etc. are no longer relevant.  Based on family commitments, continuing education and geographical constraints, there are no rules anymore for creating a professional timeline.  Yet, practitioners often seek to move before they are ready (or similarly stay too long at one particular place) based on antiquated notions of career progression.  The only timeline that matters is your own. If you are happy at your current job, drown out the voicecs that keep telling you what you “should” do.


4)      Boredom: Can you do your job in less than 30 hours a week?  Are you feeling unchallenged in your work?  While people often leave when they feel this way, the key should be to gracefully depart before you feel the symptoms of boredom creeping in.   By this time, people are usually hoping that you would leave the department any way J.  Be self-aware.  Know when you start to feel yourself not being as effective or interested in your current job duties.   Are you still invested and excited by the work you do each day?


5)      Success in most areas of current job role functions: Have you gotten all that you can out of your current role?  Have you accomplished the things you hoped to achieve when you started the position? While all of the aforementioned areas can be valid reasons to move on, this is the one that often feels the most comfortable because you can leave on your own  terms knowing that you are ready for the next challenge.  What does success look like to you?  What else can you get out of this experience?

In your experience, why else do people seek to move on?

About annmarieklotz

I write about all things education, personal & professional development and growth. Once is a question, twice is a discussion and three times is a blog post! Born and raised in Detroit Michigan but currently calling the Pacific Northwest home. I work at Oregon State University and belong to a fantastic community of higher ed professionals around the globe! Lover of theater and the arts. Live your best life!
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16 Responses to “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

  1. Kari Wetzel says:

    I enjoyed reading this post, but took it as a ‘What I should look for in my job search’. These are 5 considerations that I will be looking at when I start applying for jobs next year! Thanks for the post, AMK!

  2. You’re right on the mark with the reasons people leave/stay/stay too long. Some of the best advice I received in graduate school was about “putting the blinders on” and staying focused on your own experience. You have to block out the noise, the grass-is-always-greener feelings, the perception of the supposedly correct career trajectory and own your career path. Reflection, self-awareness are really the only ways to know what is best for you. Ann Marie, the five reasons to stay/go that you posted were spot on and provide a great gut check for anyone currently questioning where they are going and, most importantly, why they are motivated to pursue the next step.

    • Thanks Renee! It’s not always easy to listen to your gut and “block out the noise” as you say but it is critical in order to make the best professional decisions for you!

  3. Lee Karraker says:

    I completely agree on all of these. I also think one reason to leave do you feel supported by your department and institution. In my last position, I felt that I had tons of support from my supervisor and the department but that the institution didn’t understand what our office did and would never really support us growing and changing.

    • Thanks Lee! Institutional support is so important and hopefully it is the leadership of the department that can advocate effectively regarding the value your department brings.

  4. Sumi says:

    Really great post, AMK! Thoughtful and thought-provoking, with solid, useful advice. Keep it up!

  5. Amma says:

    Well said, AMK! I’ve been wrestling with my next steps, largely as a combination of #s 2 and 4, but would like to add a sixth, if possible?

    It is very likely that my next step will not be in my present functional area, and I am seeing from both the guidelines of the pro org for the area I’m interested in, and job postings for entry level in that area, that I’ve still got a few skills that I can work on. So I would submit to also consider “Readiness for next step”. If you’re prepared to move on, do so. But I’m realizing that with very little exception, I’ve got a little work to do before I head out.

    This is a very relevant topic lately, I’m seeing from people I’ve been talking to. Thanks for addressing it and keeping it from being such a turmoil filled internal discussion! 🙂

    • Thanks Amma for your additional reason–you are correct! Being ready ensure that you will be a rock star at the next level. Be brilliant with the basics of the job before you move on!

  6. Kristina says:

    Thanks AMK. I have been struggling with #3. I appreciate being affirmed by your post in my decision to remain in my current position. It’s difficult to drown out the noise of other people. We need to make the best decisions for ourselves regardless of what others think. Great post.

  7. I’ve been looking for something like this – and am struggling with #4. It’s not easy to navigate, especially when you’re not sure what a graceful move might entail. Thanks for your post, as always! 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment! Are there ways to ask for additional duties in an area you are interested in? This can be a way to re-charge and gain some new skills at the same time. Good Luck!

  8. Karen says:

    Wonderful and reassuring post! This helps a lot as I’m thinking about my next step!

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