Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Should I stay or should I go? 1: facing the great jobs and careers blind spot

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on November 8, 2015

I have been adding postings and series of them to the jobs and careers guide portion of this blog, and as a core part of its overall discussion from its beginning. And in the course of that ongoing endeavor, I have addressed a fairly wide range of issues and approaches to dealing with them, that can and do arise in the workplace and as we seek to succeed and excel there. And I have recurringly and consistently at least sought to offer and explain approaches that I have found to work in my own experience and that I have seen work for others, and in a manner that a reader would readily find reasonable and as a credible starting point for their own thought if nothing else. (See my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development and its Page 2 and Page 3 continuations.)

I continue pursuing that pattern here with this posting, and with the series that it begins, but I commence doing so with a warning note. Most of the time, and for most of us, the issues and approaches that I have been writing about here, are ones that would generally be considered positive and beneficial, or at worst neutral to the individual reader and less personally relevant to them. The issues and approaches and the ways of thinking about jobs and careers that I address here, are among the more important of what I have set out to cover in this blog. But much of what I will write of here, cuts against the grain of the usual and expected, and in ways that might be uncomfortable – and perhaps particularly for those of us who need this information the most.

The working title of this series is “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” and I refer very specifically to current jobs and job situations, and to current career paths as I offer it. The easy and I have to add essentially automatic answer to that question, and for most of us and where ever possible is going to be to stay, and particularly if that means having an essentially guaranteed paycheck and both this week and next. My goal for this posting and this series is to at least begin to systematically confront and even challenge that perspective.

I will undoubtedly expand on the following list as I proceed, and I am certain to elaborate on the basic points of discussion that I do include there. But for basic orientation as to where this series is headed, I am going to successively discuss a series of workplace and career contexts, each with the title’s key question in mind. And I begin that by listing some of these areas of workplace experience for inclusion here:

1. What are your options when facing workplace interpersonal stress that will not go away where you are, and that reach a level of impact upon you so as to affect your quality of life? Would the sources of stress that you face qualify as workplace harassment under the legal system in place where you live and work, or under company policy there? If so, how is the at least on-paper protection against this enforced? Or is it only paid lip service to, at most? When would it make more sense to move on, and when would it make more sense to stay? And what are at least a few options that might be tried in negotiating a more positive resolution to this if you do seek to stay?

There is a lot to this first point, and at least the basic challenges that I make note of there are all too well known and to way too many of us. My goal for this first part of this series is to at least make note of a number of details that arise and that can be made to arise, and both in understanding the challenges that are addressed there, and in more effectively responding to them.

2. What are your options and what precisely are the issues that you can and should address if you find yourself in a dead-end job?

This is in fact a situation that can be arrived at from any of a number of directions, so this is an umbrella starting question that leads to several distinct areas of discussion for this series:

3. You seek to actively advance in your field and up the table of organization where you work and into management and even senior management positions. But you work in the nonprofit sector and the headcount limitations that these organizations essentially always face, limit the possibility that there is or will be an opening for any next step up that you would seek promotion to, at your current place of employment. How do you best analyze and understand your current situation, and your options, and how do you best decide your best path forward, and particularly where moving on to find a new next opportunity would involve at least some bridge burning – from leaving your current position with its steady paychecks if nothing else?
4. You work in a field and a functional area of that field where the state of the art is always moving forward, but you find yourself falling behind and becoming more out of date in what you know and can do, and can demonstrate that you can do. And you do not feel supported by a current employer in developing your skills and experience set there, to become and to remain more cutting-edge relevant again, in what you know to be a highly competitive workplace. How can you best address this set of challenges, and in ways that build bridges rather than burning them?

Sometimes outside factors can intervene and force you to confront this series’ core title question. I first raised the issues and questions of the constraints box in one of my earliest postings, and both to this Guide and to this blog as a whole, with: Job Search and Your Constraints Box.

5. I am going to reconsider this set of workplace and private life needs here, as apparent conflicts can and do arise between our individual preferred employment constraints, and job and workplace requirements in a current job held. And I will also discuss how outside life situations can force us to at the very least reconsider what our constraints box limits actually are now. These parameters might seem to be written in stone when initially thought through, but circumstances and needs and priorities can and do change, and certainly over longer periods of time. The work life constraints that we start out thinking in terms of might no longer hold the same meaning and relevance to us in our current here and now that they once did, when and as we find that we have to confront them again.

Should I stay or should I go? This seemingly simply, unitary question opens up a whole complex of issues and challenges that only start with our perhaps inertia-driven, all too automatic tendencies to simply stick to some current status quo. And to round out this set of topics to discuss here, I add one more for now, that represents more of a career level challenge/opportunity than it does an individual job decision:

6. When should I at least begin to seriously consider making a career path change, and with all of the challenge and uncertainties that that brings?

I will simply note here that there are probably at least as many possibilities there, as there are people who should at least consider this question. I will at least look into a few of them categorically, including contexts where an industry or functional area that you are working in now, is moribund or even actively contracting, and the issue of career changes when approaching retirement. And no discussion of this type would be complete without at least considering moves from working at an established business to breaking out on your own to found a new business startup.

I am going to begin this flow of discussion in my next series installment, with topic area 1 as listed above. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.

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