Saturday 20 January 2018

Should I stay or should I go? Five key questions to ask about your career path

Michelle Murphy
Michelle Murphy

Michelle Murphy

Question: I've been a senior manager at a medical devices company for seven years and have been offered a potentially exciting role in a new sector. However, I feel moving does involve an element of risk and I am happy enough within my current role. Is this the right time to change careers?

This is the 'million dollar question' that many people find themselves pondering during their career.

As you have been in the same role for seven years, you might be wondering if it's helping your career or is it putting you in the 'lifer' category; giving the impression of a lack of drive, ambition or motivation.

What is the right length of time to stay in one particular role? Unfortunately, there is no magic number because we are in a constantly-changing working environment and, depending on your demographic, your career expectations and values will differ. However, to help you make the decision, you should first ask yourself a number of questions and discuss it with your family and/or mentor.

1 Is the role contributing to my long-term goals or will it be a short-term gain?

It is healthy to evaluate your career goals regularly and ask what is your ultimate aim in making a move right now.

Is your current role offering the opportunity to learn more valuable skills, is it giving you a solid foundation that you can build on long term, would a move right now jeopardise your future plan? If it is perceived as a lateral shift, this will pose further difficulties.

2 Do you feel you have done all you can do?

I often sit with senior managers and executives who say they are stuck in a rut and disengaged. They are not feeling that challenge that brought them to the role initially.

This is one of the most crucial issues to consider: have you outgrown your role and can no longer add to your skills to further your career? If the answer is yes then a career move is looking more definite. A successful career-focused individual needs to be challenged and feel they're growing constantly.

3 Am I using the talents I thought I would?

For many moving into a new role brings a gush of excitement and promises of using many skills and talents.

However, 12 months in that may not have materialised and you may begin to feel you are losing certain skills and talents. Then you have to re-evaluate your position. Your talents are your unique selling point and if you cannot bring them to the fore, I would recommend you start looking at other moves.

4 Is the pressure getting to you?

Many people feel under constant pressure due to the magnitude of their workload. What seems like a massive workload for one person may not be as taxing to another - the golden rule is to know your own limits. Work is hugely important, especially for a career-focused individual, but your health and quality of life is more important. If the pressure starts to have an effect, you have a serious decision to make. If you cannot be accommodated in your current work environment then re-evaluate your options and find a role that will alleviate that but give you the challenge you need.

5 Is this move 'all about the money'?

Do you feel you are getting paid what you're worth? I have not met many who will say yes, but if you do feel there is a gap and have been unable to negotiate an improvement, you may need to consider finding a new role.

If you have honestly answered these questions and your current role cannot offer resolution, then you need to start an in-depth research process to review the options within your current industry or even outside your comfort zone.

Michelle Murphy is director of Collins McNicholas, Recruitment & HR Services, which has six offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Sligo, Athlone and Limerick.

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