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You spend a large percentage of your waking hours at your job. How happy are you there? Will you be happier in a new job? To switch or not to switch is the perennial question many of us face today.
If your job isn't working for you, don't panic or take it personally. A large percentage of employees switch jobs in such conditions. "If you're not thrilled about your current situation, you should be actively interviewing with other companies. It's much easier -- both emotionally, and from a negotiation standpoint," says Mohit Kesarwani, 26, a unit manager with ICICI Bank.
But, before you reach that decision, it is important to evaluate certain aspects:
Are you a chronic job-switcher?
"Whether it's for a good reason or bad, switching jobs is extremely common nowadays, especially in some professions -- software for example. The days when people kept only one job throughout their lives are gone. Today, the average CV usually contains several moves, especially early on in a career. In fact, it's even considered unambitious to spend too many years in one job," says Manisha Dutt, 29, a manager with a software firm in Gurgaon.
However, an extreme case of 'job hopping,' such as one every year or even several times a year, definitely won't reflect well on your resume, especially if you are under 30. "This is because a company also spends a considerable amount on training new employees and is always looking at reducing employee turnover. In such a case, one look at your resume, and they may run in the other direction," says Kesarwani.
Circumstances that demand a job change and those that don't
Some circumstances may warrant a job change, but others can be remedied. "The reason to get you to switch needs to be big -- reasons like lack of opportunities for growth, a move necessitated for family/ health reasons, need for a better salary, etc. Alternatively, you may know for sure that the new company is a great place to work in," says Pankaj Sharma, 27, an independent recruitment consultant in Delhi.
Questions to ask yourself
Ask yourself the following questions regarding where you are at present (and be honest with your answers):
Answer the questions using these broad parameters
The importance of money
Money is good stuff -- it pays for nice vacations, cool cars, education for your children, etc. Don't discount the money factor, especially if others are depending on you.
"No matter what any one says, money does buy happiness. When you accumulate a significant amount as a buffer between yourself and poverty, and stop living one pay cheque at a time, your life completely changes. You gain the freedom to pursue other avenues, like your own business, a career change, a personal project, or a mentally enriching educational experience. Such freedom is an incomparable source of happiness and tranquility, and only money can grant it," says Kesarwani.
However, if the new place totally rocks, you might consider working there and even taking a salary cut to jump ship if your current job is indeed a living nightmare.
Do a cost-benefit analysis
Let's say you take home Rs 30,000 per month. You are offered a 20 per cent salary hike in the new job and see yourself now taking home Rs 36,000 a month. What will that extra Rs 6,000 a month (= Rs 72,000 a year) do for you?
Will you blow it all on a plasma TV, stash it all in savings for an early retirement, eat out two or three more times a week, or go partying with your friends?
What is the bottomline impact on your lifestyle that this raise will give you? How will this raise impact your work environment? Keeping in mind that you work eight hours or more a day, are these extras worth the anxiety and the risk involved in switching jobs? What risks do you have if you stay in your current job? In short, what is the opportunity cost?
To cut to the chase, don't move only for financial reasons unless you're going to earn significantly more. Happiness, in terms of liking what you are doing and feeling that you are accomplishing something, is much more important. Eventually, the money won't be motivation enough to continue with the new job.
Weigh the risks
Consider this -- you already know what your current job is like and you like it. You know the people and get along with your colleagues, who are interesting people. Your boss treats you well.
The new place might be even better and the offer may be 20 per cent more than what you're getting now. The people might all be nice, or there may be a few nut cases and backstabbers there. Your boss may steal the credit for the work you do.
"Switching is a big risk; you are going out into the unknown. Chances are, the new place can be worse," says Sharma, who has experienced this himself.
"Verify everything the potential boss tells you. Bosses try to make the job sound attractive in the same way that job applicants try to make themselves sound good," says Dutt.
If you don't really want to quit
"The first step is to analyse why, and whether or not you really want to leave. Is it just because of one thing, such as a low salary or an interpersonal conflict? If so, you must communicate that to your manager and HR department. It could be better to first consider options such as moving to another department, or negotiating a salary hike rather than leaving the organisation," feels Dutt.
Most problems at the workplace can be solved if both parties are willing to solve them. "A three-month trial can be experimented with to see if the situation can be resolved. Just like problems take time to develop, their solutions also take time to work," says Kesarwani.
Keep your relationship with your colleagues and your company intact
The way in which you carry yourself during your transition can have a great impact on your career. It says as much about you professionally as the impression you had made on your first day. The people who you work with will make it a point to note your behaviour. If it is anywhere inappropriate or negative, the word can spread quickly. Keep in mind that this group you leave includes potential references.
"Your last impression is just about as important as your first. It's vital to break away without any ill feeling, and leave behind an impeccable record. It's a small world and it could just happen that you work with, or for, the very same people again," says Sharma.
So, it's important to leave on positive terms. Display professionalism. The right attitude is critical to building bridges, and not burning them, when you are at the threshold of assuming a new position.
The guilt factor
"Only three months into my first job, I landed a new opportunity offering me 30 to 40 per cent more than my current job. I felt really bad leaving my current job and disappointing the people that gave me a chance to work there," says Dutt.
"As for feeling bad about leaving, don't get all flustered about it. Everyone needs to grow, and employers themselves are aware of that," says Sharma. "The key for you is to determine whether it's the wrong job, the wrong employer, or the wrong career. Once you have made that decision, the ideal scenario is to locate a new job while you are still employed. Then, if you think what you get is better than your current job, don't feel guilty -- take it. They'll understand.
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