The ONE reason to leave a job

This is a short blog, with an important point:

When and why should you leave a job?

Caveat: This is advice for someone who is wanting to advance their career.

If you are happy in your job and you don’t care about advancement, good for you! Don’t worry about this.

But if you do care about advancement, this is something that I see getting a lot of people stuck, so I wanted to take a moment to talk about it.

Is it Pleasant?

One of the main factors that makes people consider changing jobs is if their current job is unpleasant.

Sure, if you have an abusive, narcissist psychopath for a boss, or the company is doomed, or you are being set up for failure or you hate the work — these are all sensible reasons to think about leaving.

But in a normal situation, whether or not a job is unpleasant is not the primary reason to consider leaving.

You shouldn’t leave a job just because it’s unpleasant, nor should you stay at a job just because it is pleasant.

Are you getting NEW Experiences?

The biggest factor to consider when you are thinking, “Should I stay or should I go?” is this:

Is this job giving me the new experiences I need to achieve my career objectives?

In my own situation, I have stayed in, or even chosen to go to ugly jobs with difficult bosses, because the ugly job job was adding to my experience base in a way that was necessary to develop my career — and the pleasant job wasn’t.

Maybe it gave me global reach, interaction with the board, a transformational initiative, managing new functions…

I did not care as much about the product/content, my boss, the people, or the pleasantness.

My primary question was always, “What experience am I lacking that is necessary to get where I want to go?”

If an ugly job could get me that experience faster than a pleasant one, I always chose the ugly one.

One of the mistakes I see people who want to advance there career make, is to stay in a job longer than they can continue to gain new experiences.

The question I ask is,

“If you stay, are you sure you will be getting 6 years of experience, or will you be getting 3 years of experience twice?”

If you have already done what needs to be done, and learned what you can learn, and your team is predictably delivering now, and the scope of the job is not adding to your experience base any more, it’s time to move on — no matter how pleasant it might be.

I can tell you that I left the most pleasant job of my career to take on the most painful one, for this reason. It was difficult, but it was worth it. It became a real breakthrough for me.

Any time that you spend in a job not gaining new experience is diluting your career capital for the future, because you are standing still, while others are moving on.

So even if your job is unpleasant, but you are racking up experience points which are inline with your career ambitions, it could be better to stay.

Advancing Your Career

The reason this topic came to mind right now is that the subject in my Executive Mentoring Group this month is, Strategically Thinking About Your Career.

I’ve outlined several key career factors, opportunities, and roadblocks that you can assess and tune to make sure that your hard work is moving your career forward… and it’s not just, well… hard work.

Get the Executive Playbook

If you want to learn these ideas about managing your career, check out my Executive Playbook on Strategically Thinking About Your Career.

And this month you can get it for FREE with a Trial Membership to my Executive Mentoring Group.
(No risk: You can cancel at any time)

And this is one of many Executive Playbooks in my Executive Mentoring Group, that will help you feel more in control and less stressed as you navigate your career.

You can start your Free Trial here.

Patty Azzarello

Patty is available to speak at your company, annual meeting, or customer event. She can also deliver a custom workshop on Leadership or Strategy Execution for your leadership team. Contact Patty.

Or if you would like some personal help on your own professional development, check out her Executive Mentoring Group. It’s filled with insights, resources and support to build your executive confidence, advance your career, and includes direct mentoring from Patty.


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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her books RISE and MOVE.

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