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Is It Time to Move On?

Is It Time to Move On?
Sarah Curtis-Bey

Determining when to move on can be a challenge, and it’s often not clear-cut or formulaic. It is an individual decision influenced by both career and personal aspirations. For some, the trajectory of their peer group has an influence on their perception of success and the optimal transition timing.

“Moving on” might be defined as a promotion or lateral move within the same organization or leaving the organization to pursue a new opportunity or way of life.

Within my own career, first in finance and now consumer products marketing, I’ve had opportunities to build a dynamic career by “moving on” within one organization, and at specific points in time “moving on and out” to further my education or pursue a transformative growth opportunity.

I have always relied upon a balance of analysis and instinct to select the optimal path forward.  There are a few questions that I would recommend considering when determining whether it’s time to “move on”. They help to create a framework for the big decision ahead. I hope that you’ll find them useful as you map out your career.

Is your current team and organization a good fit for you career and culture wise?

Assessing fit is an important first step. Where do you stand, and are you in an environment where you can thrive? Here are a couple of red flags:

  • You feel like a square peg in a round hole after investing a significant amount of time and effort into your role and trying to adapt to the company culture and management expectations
  • You find yourself in a toxic environment due to a dysfunctional relationship with your manager or key influencers within the organization and have not been able to find a solution.

Change may not necessarily mean leaving the organization.  Have a discussion with your advisors, including any advocates you have within the organization about business units, roles, and team cultures that might be a better fit for you. There could be a viable opportunity and if the organization values you, key stakeholders might welcome the opportunity to discuss your career goals and help you to find the optimal role. Internal moves may require some patience timing wise. After considering your options, you may ultimately decide that it’s best to move on and out.

Is there an opportunity to grow within your current role?

Assuming that the organization is the right fit, evaluate whether you’ve reached the boundaries of your current role. Is there room to enhance your skill set and raise your profile by taking on new projects and initiatives? Is there an opportunity to expand your team? It may be possible to elevate your current role by delegating some of the deliverables on your plate to current or new team members, freeing you up to take on more strategic and higher profile projects. There may even be room for growth compensation wise.

Title is only one descriptor of a role and not always the most important measure. It is not uncommon to find varying levels of responsibility, influence, seniority and compensation across a group of professionals within the same team at the same level (e.g., Director). I’ve made lateral moves in my own career that have allowed me to learn new skills, take on new business categories, and gain exposure to high profile projects.

If you determine that there is little room for growth and that you’re ready for more, it’s time to consider moving on.

If you’re ready to “move on”, what do you envision as your next step and what is your timeline?

It’s important to clarify your expectations for “moving on” and how your next steps should fit within your long-term career plan. You might define “moving on” as a promotion to a new title or level of responsibility within your current functional role and industry, making a shift to a new function or industry, or taking an entrepreneurial leap. If you’re making a shift within the corporate world, determine whether a large or small organization is a better fit for you. Even within a large company, each division may have its own unique organizational structure and culture.  Determine what you need to have exposure to in order to flourish professionally. Are you seeking P&L responsibility or the opportunity to lead a team? Perhaps you’re looking for an opportunity to take on additional product categories or accounts. Are you seeking client exposure or a plum position on a high profile deal team?

Once you’ve defined your vision, set a timeline. Don’t allow your goals to be a moving target. If you’re timing is short term and the opportunities are limited within your current company, don’t be afraid to consider opportunities elsewhere.You should always be aware of what’s available in the market and how the market perceives you. Connect with advisors and contacts within your industry or target industry. Reach out to head hunters and attend networking events. It’s always a good idea to know your worth and the options available to you.

How will “moving on” impact your personal priorities?

It’s essential to weigh the impact that “moving on” might have on your personal life, inclusive of family, lifestyle, and community obligations. For example, a new opportunity might require relocation, additional travel, and being accessible around the clock. You may be ready to leave the corporate world and start your own business, a decision that could have significant financial implications. It’s important to be realistic and have tough conversations about the pros and cons with the key stakeholders in your life.  What will it take, holistically, to adapt to a new reality?

How should I evaluate a new opportunity that I wasn’t anticipating?

A new opportunity may arise when you least expect it, either within or outside of your current organization.  There is no harm in its consideration.  It’s always a good idea to evaluate the pros and cons of the opportunity before simply writing it off because you’re comfortable in your current role or the timing isn’t ideal.  Does the new role represent the next step you’ve envisioned? Is it feasible vs. your personal priorities? Will the compensation package be a game changer for you and your family? Is it the type of offer you might regret not considering six months or a year from now? The right timing is important, but don’t let it be an immediate barrier to consideration.

Finally, I’ve always believed that we should be the architects of our own careers in partnership with the managers, mentors, colleagues and advocates that become part of our journey along the way. Take an active role in your career progression and be realistic about your circumstances and whether it’s time to dig in or move on. Know your worth and the value you bring to the table. Once you have a seat at the table, focus on rolling up your sleeves and delivering results while never forgetting to keep an eye to the future.

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