Should I Stay, or Should I Go Now?

by Alexis Rohlfing, Head Editor, INALJ New Hampshire

Should I Stay, or Should I Go Now?

alexisrohlfingTwo weeks ago I found myself in the odd position of having to decide if I really wanted a mini-promotion. This is a situation that I’m sure others have run into: you’re not working as an information professional, but you’ve excelled enough at your current position that you are offered a promotion. Whether big or small, there’s that little question in the back of your mind: “Is it worth it?”

I have been working toward getting into content management or resource development, so being offered more training and responsibilities that fell squarely in my current realm didn’t immediately sound like what I wanted. But should I accept it– stay on my current trajectory and hope that future doors may open? Or should I turn it down, and focus on internal and external opportunities that were closer to where I wanted to be?

I won’t pretend to have the answer for everyone, but when you’re faced with that type of opportunity that may not be an opportunity, here are some things to keep in mind:

The WIIFM (everyone’s favorite acronym) – WIIFM stands for “what’s in it for me?” and it’s one of the first questions you have to ask yourself. What are the good things, the positives that lead you to say yes? This can include marketable or transferable skills that will help you get to your career goal, a pay bump, change in schedule that may work better for you, or all of the above.

What does my “no” really say to the employer – The flip side of the coin is, if you turn down the promotion or additional skill set, what does that say to your employer? Does it say “No, I won’t take the easy road; I’m focused on my goal?” Or is your employer going to see it as “No, I will not help the business with what it needs right now, I’m focused on me”? The answer to that is going to depend on your manager and your work culture. Part of my company’s culture is a big emphasis on “we help you, you help us”– they are flexible in adjusting around family schedules and personal needs, but in return you are expected to help the business, such as being trained to take more calls in a group that is critically short.

What does my “no” really say to me – All of these considerations are important, but you also have to think about your yes or no in terms of your career path and goals. Are you saying yes because this is a side path that could prove useful? Are you saying no because the cons outweigh the pros? Are you saying no because you’re just tired of being out of the industry, or saying yes because you’ve decided that it’s not meant to be? You need to really assess where you are coming from on an intellectual and emotional basis.

Will there be other opportunities – If the opportunity that you’ve been given just isn’t what you need at this point, you need to assess whether your current position will lead to more opportunities that do further your career goals, or whether you will continue to have chances that don’t get you what you need. If you’re looking at the lay of the land, and you think that the opportunity you’re considering is the rule, not the exception, you may need to start looking outside your current employer.

Personal considerations – if you’re leaning toward no, and you think this may lead you to look for opportunity elsewhere, are there personal considerations? Upcoming time off that you have to be sure of? Upcoming wedding? Personal leave, maternity leave, or medical leave that you know you can get in your current position but may not be as easy to get if you move jobs?

For what it’s worth, I did accept the opportunity even though there’s no direct correlation between the job I’ll be doing and where I want to ultimately be. For any decision like this, you have to think through the reasons outlined above. One of the main reasons I chose to move forward was that it is a very visible manifestation of the fact that my manager thinks I am doing well in my job and that I am worthy of more responsibility– something that is good whether you will be with the company for a few years or an entire career.

So if you find yourself in the situation of wondering should I stay or should I go? Make sure you don’t jump into an opportunity without weighing the options, and don’t judge the opportunity by its outward appearance.