Knowing when to stay or go

The job for life culture may appear to be a thing of the past, but there remain many instances of successful managers who have climbed the proverbial career ladder with their existing employer. Trouble is, this route to the top invariably takes longer.

More often than not career hungry managers will opt to look outside the organisation to find what opportunities are available in the here and now, rather than wait for the next round of promotions to come where they already are. So when planning your next career move, the decision whether to look long term or short term is a crucial one.

Here we look at how you can decide which option is right for and your career ambitions.

Read behind the label: Research has found that ambitious younger middle managers are more prone to switching employer within a relatively shorter period of time than their more junior and senior counterparts. This has led to people being accused of lacking commitment to their employer and unable to stick things out for any length of time.

But that isn’t fair. Sometimes a move externally makes complete sense, especially if you find that you are unable to acquire the experience and skills you need to fulfil the next role you have your sights set on. More over, if the role you want is unlikely to become available with your current employer anytime soon, what choice do you have?

Indeed, if you stay where you are and play the waiting game you open yourself to being labelled as ‘unambitious’ in the eyes of any future employer. In which case the decision to move elsewhere is an obvious one. However, there is a flip side to this too.

You could also argue that staying put also demonstrates your career ambitions, because you have taken the conscious decision to maximise the power of your internal network to secure the promotion you want.

Learning to keep pace: How many times has an interviewer asked you where you see yourself in three or five years’ time – more times that you care to mention, no doubt? But it’s one that should be asking yourself particularly if you have ambitions to continue driving your career along that upward trajectory.

Taking control of your career means developing a career road map and plotting the course that will set you on the right path to achieving your career objectives. Decide if the growth plans of your current employer are in sync with your own personal career plans – are they growing at a steady rate or is it sluggish at best?

Taking steps back to move forward: If you are already working for one of the leading organisations in your sector, any decision to move to a lower tier employer should not be taken lightly. Whilst you could secure the promotion you want sooner rather than later, this action could do your long-term career prospects more harm than good.

Satisfaction is key: Before you take the decision to jump ship you need to first ask yourself a few questions: Are you fulfilled in your role? Do you feel challenged? Are your skills being fully utilised? Are you constantly learning? If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions, then looking outside your organisation for these opportunities may be your best option.

However, if your answers err more towards the positive then it may be worth sticking it out where you are. Either way, it is important to ensure that the company is the right ‘fit’ for you or it could hamper your future career development.


Some people stay put until they have exhausted all possibilities for progression where they already are, others will seek new opportunities elsewhere. But whether you stay or go you need to have a clear strategy. Play to your strengths and make it work for you.