HOW TO: Decide when it’s time to leave your current gig…

2011 01 04 MV to All: Every once in a while in a person’s career the job begins to wear them down rather than build them up. The hard part is somehow deciding when enough is enough, and it’s time to move on. I’ve recently been contacted by a younger friend named John Pongo who is going through this very ordeal. Having changed careers and companies at least a few times in my career, I had some genuine insights which helped him.

For those of you looking for some sort of tool to help you with your decision-making process, I offer the following – a tool which has worked for me across 25 years and 11 companies. And before you label me a “job shopper” (which I’m not), know this – I’m a professional IT consultant whose career includes 2 long, fixed-term contracts and 3 massive layoffs in my career thus far, so it’s more accurate to say my ratio is more like 6 decisions-to-move over 25 years.

When those occurred, here’s how I arrived at them – by using a simple set of 6 metrics and a positive/negative scale to gauge my feelings (yes “feelings”) along those metrics.

METRIC                                                                             RATING
                                                                   unhappy                            happy
                                                      <————————— 0 —————————->
Leadership/Responsibilities       x
Technical Challenges                                             x              x
Comfort                                                                                                 x
Colleagues                                                                                                x
Compensation                                                                          x

One interesting thing you’ll note is that this approach and scale allow you to feel ambivalent – you can have TWO conflicting emotions – and they still get accounted for. Note that under Technical Challenges I am BOTH unhappy and happy – happy about one technology with which I work, but Unhappy (bored in fact) by another. This approach allows me to account for this two-fold feeling, which I think is critical in the decision-making process…

Now all you have to do is add up the positive & negative scores for all metrics (all weighted equally in this example, but not required), and if you’re decidedly negative (as I am in this example), then, well… it’s time to move on. Especially if this is how you feel day in and day out…

Don’t just up & QUIT for heaven’s sake, but start looking, and use that combination of apprehension AND hope as a salve for helping you to get out of bed in the morning.

You’ll see this tool can be sketched out quite quickly on a piece of paper. Start with my suggested metrics, then add some of your own which make sense for you.

Hopefully just seeing your current situation on paper will be of some value to you.

It’s a brand-spanking new year. If it’s time for a change, then – like for John – I wish you best of luck.             


This entry was posted in Joe Average vs Modern Technology, The Big Picture, The Wise Consultant. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to HOW TO: Decide when it’s time to leave your current gig…

  1. Peter Vogt says:

    Hi Mark,

    The most innovative aspect of your metric scale/chart — IMHO — is its allowance for feelings of ambivalence … i.e., “mixed feelings.” That’s where most — perhaps all? — other career-related assessments fall short. Most of us can say “it’s situational” where some of our feelings are concerned — it depends on this or it depends on that — and that can make traditional career assessments less useful than they might otherwise be.

    Anyway … well done. In my experience, we all DO need tools (and processes) to make these types of decisions, and this is a handy tool when it comes to potential job/career change. Best of all, it’s simple but it’s not EASY — it forces deep thought about key concerns, but in a way that’s not overwhelming or procrastination-producing.

    Perhaps a follow-up post — on what job/career to change TO — will cover The Circles? 🙂

    See ya.


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