Should I Stay or Should I Go? Deciding The Time for the Job Hunt

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Imagine, for a moment, that a former colleague just started looking for a new job and has told you that hiring conditions are quite favorable. You possess similar skills and wonder if it’s time for you to initiate your own search and pursue a new opportunity. You’re fairly content in your current position, but still wonder if you can do better. Should you launch a job hunt?

The answer is “maybe.” The Robert Half Technology IT Hiring and Skills Report has shown solid hiring expectations and that individuals with Windows administration (Windows Server 2000, 2003), network administration (Cisco, Nortel), database management (Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server) and Web development expertise are in particular demand. If you think the timing is positive to make a career move, you should take a good look at all aspects of your current position before deciding whether to stay or go. Here are some key considerations:

The Job
Think about whether you enjoy the fundamentals of your work. Do you look forward to your projects or dread going into the office every morning? Remember, everyone has aspects of their jobs that don’t appeal to them, but overall, you should be satisfied with the daily responsibilities. Your work should be meaningful and motivating.

Also take into account the workload. While most IT professionals are quite busy, you shouldn’t feel like you’re swimming upstream all the time while never achieving anything. Conversely, you shouldn’t feel bored or underutilized.

The Potential
Is there room to grow at your company? What are your chances of earning a promotion? If no one has mentioned your career path within the organization or assigned you more challenging work, it may be time to meet with your manager to find out whether you’re on track to move ahead. If your supervisor is noncommittal about your advancement or doesn’t follow through with projects that stretch your abilities, it might be time to explore other options and see what the market bears.

The People
Working with a team of IT professionals who respect and support each other can be critical to your job satisfaction. The co-workers and managers you interact with on a daily basis can help you build your knowledge and skills, while giving you the encouragement to achieve your goals. If you get along well with the people at work, that can be a strong incentive to stay. However, if your group leaves you feeling like an outsider, it may be worth exploring other job opportunities.

The Work Environment
Give careful thought to what it’s like to work at your company. Are you happy with the corporate culture? Do the firm’s management style and business policies mesh well with your standards and preferences? You may be able to deal with a stricter dress code better than you’d like overtime, for instance, but concerns about ethics or other serious matters are significant ones and shouldn’t be downplayed when deciding whether to stay or go.

The Stability
Finally, think about your employer’s financial condition and your job security there. If no IT projects seem to be getting funding approvals from executives or there are plans for reorganization or budget cuts, challenging times likely are ahead. Have a frank talk with your manager about the situation to make sure you have accurate information about future plans at the organization.

While the job market can be a motivator to launch a search, it shouldn’t be the only reason for your decision. Take into account all aspects of your current position before making the leap. Regardless of whether you decide to stay at your job or start looking for something new, make sure you write out a career plan so you’re clear about what you want and what you need to achieve your objectives. This will help ensure the next step you take professionally is the right one.

Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology. She can be reached at editor (at) certmag (dot) com.

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