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Promotion vs new job: what should you go for?

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

You’ve been in the same workplace for a while and you’re considering whether to push for promotion or find a new role elsewhere. Or maybe you’ve been successful in your job hunt, only to receive a surprise offer of extra responsibility and a new title from your current manager. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you? Having the choice between advancing within your organisation and starting afresh elsewhere is a great situation to be in, but the choice can be a hard one to make. As an ambitious professional, how do you make the right choice for your career in the long-term? Here are a few things you’ll need to consider:

Staying with your company

The disadvantages

The first thing to ask yourself is, are you happy with your current Employer? If the answer is no, then you have an easy decision to make. A Harvard Business Review survey found that the majority of respondents would trust a stranger more than their own boss. When you work for a company, you get to know everything that goes on – warts and all – so if you’re not comfortable where you are, then it’s best to move on.

After this, consider if the new internal role you’ve been offered is enough of a change to continue to motivate you where you are currently. A new job internally doesn’t always come with an increase in salary, in fact 39 per cent of Employers admit to awarding the opportunity to advance without an extra financial incentive. Have you been offered everything on your tick list alongside your promotion? Also, will you have ownership – including the ability to make changes – now that you have the new title? Sometimes it can be easier to make an impact when you start anew elsewhere.

Finally, whilst it’s great for the ego, is promotion solving the issues you had? There are many reasons for changing jobs, and not all of these have to do with career progression. You might be under a lot of stress and looking for a better work life balance or you may have the change to relocate closer to home. Also, sometimes, it’s useful to move around to gain a new perspective. All of these are valid reasons for moving elsewhere, so take some time to reflect on what is most important to you.

The advantages

If you love your company, a promotion will give you the best of both worlds: you’ll be able to stay where you are and progress at the same time. Furthermore, having an external job offer can give you leverage when it comes to bargaining for a better offer at your current workplace. Chances are that if you’ve been offered a step up, your manager will be keen to keep you and will be willing to make changes where they can.

Changing jobs can be a risky move. A Willis Towers Watson study of over 31,000 Employees globally found that job security was a major reason for staying within their organisation. When you’re a long-term Employee, you may also have special perks or benefits. This could range from annual pay bonuses to additional time off and maternity or paternity leave. For many people, outside circumstances, such as having a family or being a primary carer can change the way they look at their career and, therefore, security becomes a key factor.

The best thing about a promotion is that you’ve already earned the respect of your team and you have a proven track record. You’ll be giving back to the company that helped you grow, and although there is no time to rest on your laurels, you already understand how the business works and what needs doing. When you’re willing to stay somewhere for the long-term, you’re demonstrating perseverance, and you’ll be able to use your knowledge and experience to have a positive impact even when times are tough.

Moving to a new organisation

The advantages

When the right opportunity isn’t available internally, switching roles can keep you on your toes. In America, the average time spent working for a company is 4.6 years, which can also be a good guide for the UK. There are many differing opinions on how long you should work somewhere in order to build up a good CV, however this will depend on your industry. In some sectors, such as the media industry, swapping roles regularly is the a way to build experience fast, writing for bigger publications and taking on different challenges. Moving to a new job will make sure that you don’t get too comfy, you’ll be used to dealing with new situations and you’ll be able to compare ways of working, using what you’ve learnt previously in your next role.

Then there’s the theory that – in whatever position you find yourself - you should always try to work yourself out of a job. In a nutshell, by making processes more productive, empowering your team to make decisions and redefining what’s needed, your role should change all the time. So, ask yourself, is your current company a slow or a fast mover? If your ambition is to be at the forefront of your sector, reacting to a fast-paced and ever-changing world, it will make sense to seek out opportunities in organisations who are forward-thinking. Accepting a role in this type of business will be an easy decision.

Finally, moving to a new job could bring you greater earning potential. According to analysis from business magazine Forbes, staying at the same company for over two years will mean you earn less over your lifetime. Money certainly isn’t everything, but if this is a key factor for you, it is often easier to secure a higher salary at a new company, who are likely to do more to attract you to work for them.

The disadvantages

Although you can get a good idea of a business when you attend an interview, accepting a new role is a step into the unknown, as you won’t get to know your colleagues and the way they work until later down the line. When you decide to start a new role, you should be willing to be flexible, adapting your way of working to in order to fit into a new environment.

Moving jobs regularly can be stressful, and if you’re doing this too frequently, it can impact on your CV. It will vary from Employer to Employer, but some like to see that you have staying power. Hiring and training people can be costly, so it’s also important to demonstrate loyalty by building up time at an organisation before moving on. This will help safeguard you against a reputation of being flighty or impulsive. Research from Robert Half found that although 64 per cent of professionals think that changing roles every few years is helpful; many bosses disagree and 44 per cent are not likely to hire people who job hop. Ultimately, you should realise that the grass is not always greener on the other side, and that there will be challenges wherever you work.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.

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