Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Sunday 10th October 2010
In this article
  • The positives of staying at your old job.
  • What to expect on your new job.
  • How to analyze your decision.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?

"Should I stay or should I go?" has become a common anthem in today’s job-rich economy. For many SharpMen it may seem as though everyone they know is switching jobs, interviewing or on the phone with headhunters (see SharpMan’ Guide to Headhunters for information on how to maximize on this resource). The problem is, while the money may sound good, not every decision — and not every "package" — is right for every SharpMan.

To determine your best move, check out this list of SharpWork "package intangibles" designed to help you more fully evaluate what you want — and what you got:

Commute time and expense. It starts with that morning (or afternoon) commute. How long does it take to get to and from work, and how will that change with your new job? Do you take public transportation or drive? With inflated gas prices, how much of an impact will that have on your paycheck?

Your commuting time may also change. Does your current job require you to fight traffic at peak hours, or have you built a rapport with your boss that allows you to come and go as you wish — skipping heavy commuting times? After all, traffic is a lot easier to deal with during that 6 a.m. -3:30 p.m. shift than that 9 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. (depending on your location). What will your new arrangement require?

Lunch. How long of a lunch to do you get to take at your current job? Does office procedure (or simply the location of your workspace) require you to check in and out every time you head out?

Many of today’s "new economy" companies discourage employees from leaving for lunch by bringing food in. While great on the wallet, often this means that you don’t get a breather. If you’re the type of guy who runs errands during his break, an in-house lunch policy may work against you.

Finally, some companies don’t bring in lunch, but should, because their offices are located far from any desirable eating establishments. If you’re a brown-bagger, no sweat, but if take-out lunch amounts to a "mini-vacation" in an otherwise hectic day, you won’t be happy with the change.

Management and oversight. Are you the type of SharpMan who enjoys working in a team environment or are you a solo bird? Many companies in the same industries are likely to have radically different approaches to the way they get things done. If you enjoy working one-on-one with an experienced member of management, a team-oriented environment may not be for you — and vice versa.

Also, just how much supervision are you used to? If you work best when left to your own devices, will a new, "hands-on" manager drive you cuckoo? On the other hand, if you prefer a lot of mentoring and support, will an environment that rewards "self-starters" leave you in the dust? Which leads right into…

Culture. Many work environments are made or broken by the overall corporate culture of the company. Consider your preferences regarding culture. For example, do you like young working environments? "Hip" urban environments? Chatty, social groups where everyone goes to a bar after work? If you enjoy this type of collegial community, you may not feel as comfortable (or as fulfilled) in an environment where you represent the "new generation," and everyone else has been around since the dawn of time.

Similarly, make every effort to find out what the turnover rate is at your potential new employer. Why has your job opened up? Is the company growing, or are you simply replacing the last guy who "couldn’t take it anymore!"?

Ask about the types of hours that employees typically keep. If you’re a straight 8 a.m. — 7 p.m. man, you may not acclimate well to a frenetic environment of "new media" types who want to work all night in their bid to take over the world.

Similarly, make a point of understanding where you’ll be performing your duties. While some companies provide mid-level employees with an office (which may even include a small window), many of today’s younger companies consider cubicles standard general issue for everyone — including the CEO. Since office ergonomics play a huge role in a worker’s happiness, consider what your space and privacy needs are.

And if you are in a cube, how much "professional freedom" will you enjoy? Consider all of the little things that go unnoticed at your current job: does your boss mind when you're 10 or 15 minutes late in the morning? Does anyone notice when you slip out for an early lunch? A late errand? A fourth coffee break? And with that, more on the….

"Bennies." Apart from small benefits, consider the big picture stuff, too. What is the benefit package structure at your current job? If you take advantage (or plan on taking advantage) of your company’s 401K savings plan, does your new company have one? And if so, do they have a matching program for employees? Are the investment funds and investment options for the company’s 401K plan as favorable in the new company as those you may have enjoyed at the old?

The law requires employers to help provide health insurance coverage for full-time employees, but it doesn’t go very far in regulating the quality of the programs offered. Many SharpMen are surprised to discover the vast differences between programs. Look into the health plan offerings of the company you are considering moving to. How favorable is the health plan? How much do they cover? For what doctors? Do they offer dental benefits as well? Short-term disability or a small life insurance policy?

How about vacation time and other forms of leave? Will your vacation days be lumped together with "sick days" under the "personal days" umbrella? Are these personal days lost each year, or can you roll them over to the next — or take them in pay? Does overtime allow you to take time off?

Other "minor" details. Finally, when deciding whether or not to take a new job, think about your family and your life outside of work. Will this job create more or less stress? How will your new job change things for you and your wife or girlfriend? Does a later start time mean you can drive the kids to daycare in the morning, but can no longer pick them up in the afternoon? How will this affect your weekly routine, your daily workout, your eating schedule or your ability to hang out with the guys? After all, nearly all jobs affect your life away from the office.

So the next time you get a call promising double the money and half the work, take a moment to consider the whole enchilada in order to make the decision that works for you.

This article last updated on Sunday 10th October 2010
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