Should You Look For A New Job?

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Corporate OfficesA friend recently learned that a co-worker, with similar responsibilities and credentials, found a new job for slightly more pay. The difference in salary was, percentage-wise, in the single digits and the move was a lateral one (no significant added responsibilities). She was wondering whether she should start looking for a job too because money’s getting tighter and everyone’s looking for an edge.

There’s no harm in looking.

I wouldn’t be spreading the news around the office but you’re not dating your job, you’re allowed to see if better opportunities are out there. You’re doing yourself a disservice but not looking. If you look and find a good opportunity, that’s great. If you look and don’t, then you will be happy in your job.

Now, given all that, if she were to find a job for a few percentage points more in pay, I would probably tell her not to take it. Here’s why:

  • She’s happy. If you’re happy at your job and you’re not talking about a significant salary difference, it’s really not worth the risk. It’s difficult to find a job that you enjoy, that is fulfilling, and that pays you fairly (it’s fair if the salary difference is in the single digit percentage points). There are plenty of jobs that pay very well but are miserable, you might have a few extra dollars but you won’t be happy.
  • She has a good reputation. When you start at a new company, you start all over again. This is great if you had a rep as a slacker who is just skating by, you get a fresh start. This is less great if people know they can depend on you or if you’re the first name on the list in building a new team, you’ll have to rebuild that. If you can be compensated well to start over, by all means, but building a reputation takes time and a lot of effort.
  • She has a strong network. I don’t know for sure if she has a solid network of friends and co-workers in her company but she’s very personable and has been there for several years. I’d bet even money she has a solid network of friends she can rely on to get things done. Along with a reputation, building up a network at a company also takes a lot of time and is as valuable as being smart.
  • She’s powered through the learning curve. She’s been there a few years so she knows how things work. She doesn’t need to read the benefits package because she knows the options. She doesn’t need to look at a map to know where the mail stops are or where the conference rooms are or where the lunch room is. All those little headaches you have to deal with when you first start at a company, she doesn’t have to deal with them.
  • She’s not financially strapped. At least from what I know, so she doesn’t “need” the added salary. If she were at the fringe, where her income was barely covering her expenses, I think she’d do well to get another offer and get her current company to match (it’s risky to get an employer to salary match but if you’re strapped, you’re strapped). However, she’s at a point where she’s comfortable and not struggling to make ends meet.

I drastically simplified the situation but I believe I captured all the salient points. What would you say to her?

(Photo: mugley)

{ 4 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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4 Responses to “Should You Look For A New Job?”

  1. lori says:

    What if you’re comfortable, but not exactly happy. What if you’re just bored and all the other reasons not to change apply?

  2. jim says:

    I wouldn’t stay in a boring job, life is simply too short. However, you don’t have to leave your company, have you considered trying to find a different or increased role in your company?

  3. lori says:

    hmm..well it’s a small engineering company and I’m not an engineer, so there’s not much else there.

    I suppose the best thing would be to stay here for the time being and just keep my eyes open for opportunities as you said above. It is too easy though, to get lulled into the comfort of what is here: 3 weeks of vacation, minimal supervision, familiarity of having been here five years, _and_ free soda.

  4. Laura says:

    I enjoyed the post Jim. I really appreciate the point of having a strong network. It can be a valuable tool.

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