Thursday, 12 February 2009

Should you Stay or Should you Go?

I Bumped into someone that started working here at the same time as me the other day and they were worried about whether they were doing the right thing by staying here and not looking for work somewhere else. I remember when we started working at the office that we both discussed how this was a temporary position for us and we’d only be here for a maximum of six months, and that actually, we’d probably leave before the probationary period of three months was up. This discussion was over two years ago now and we’re both still in the same company.

Is it a good idea to job hop, or is it a good idea to stay in one place for a prolonged period of time? I don’t really know what the answer is, so instead I can only really hypothesize on the advantages and disadvantages.


Looking on the bright side first of all, the longer you work in one place, the more experience you build up. I have learnt a lot more in my job than I would have done had I left after six months. As a fresh graduate, one of the biggest problems you will find yourself up against is that most places want you to have experience in that particular line of work, which is of course ridiculous because as a fresh graduate, chances are you’re not going to have the right experience for anything. If you can build up some sort of transferable skill then that’s a good start. Any working experience is going to be good in the long run.

Not only do you build up experience, but you can also build up a reputation of loyalty. Loyalty in business is a tricky beast as you must remember that nobody is irreplaceable, but being able to show to a prospective employer that you are capable of sticking something out for any length of time is highly beneficial. I’ve heard it said that one of the biggest benefits of going to university in the first place is so that you can show somebody that you’re capable of sticking something out for at least three years.

From a more personal side of things, staying in the same place is comfortable. I wouldn’t be able to do my part time course or my various personal projects if I was constantly being kept on my toes at work, so knowing where I am and where I stand is incredibly helpful. However, this can work against you as well, as some future employers will see this as you not wanting to push yourself, and of course, from a human resources point of view, that’s a massive faux pas.


Following directly on from being comfortable, let’s break in to the negative aspects to staying in one place. First of all there is the risk of stagnation. Staying in one place for a long time probably shows a lack of innovation. Although I’ve previously discussed whether or not this is a good thing, a lot of interviewers would undoubtedly tell you it is a very bad thing. Nobody wants to employ someone who just wants to coast through the week.

There is also a high risk of boredom and depression sinking in if you stay in one place for too long. I frequently catch myself thinking to myself “why am I still here?” and I actually don’t mind my job too much. It’s not exactly making the most of my skills, but I do occasionally have to think. If I were in a job that was just fractionally worse than this, I would very quickly find myself at rock bottom.

Attached to the boredom and depression, you may start thinking that you’re not capable of working anywhere else. Some people find it very difficult to adapt to being the “new guy” again and the longer you’ve been in one place, the very thought of having to learn to do something new can be incredibly daunting, especially if it’s something that requires that much more brain power anyway.

In Closing

I’ll finish on a final time-specific advantage, which will be specific again probably in another twenty years when we face the worst recession in history…again. At the moment, having a job is a bit of a rarity. I’m not denying that some people have hit hard times as a result of the recession and that some companies have genuinely fallen into economic troubles, but I’m betting some companies are using it as an excuse to cut off excess baggage and streamline their workforce a little, so if you have a job that you can keep hold of, it might be best to do so for the time being.

I think this discussion is another one of those annoying “sitting on the fence” moments I have and it’s also clear that I have plenty of excuses as to why I’m staying where I am and have done for so much longer than I intended. The only thing I can really say for certain is that some work is better than no work for purposes of finance and mental health, but that’s about it. Maybe it’s time to move on, but maybe it’s not.

Additional Notes:
I don't know why, and maybe it's just the way my oddball brain works, but whenever someone says the phrase "job hopping" to me, I always imagine one of those penguins with the odd tufts of hair on their heads. I know that they're not actually called job-hopper penguins, but my brain has still made the connection.

Throughout my blog posts you may have noticed an odd inconsistency with spelling between English and American English. I am having a prolonged war with the spell checker bundled with Microsoft office and I think I'm probably losing. The only reason I bring this up is because I have no idea if "hypothosize" is meant to have a "z" in it or not.

I'm going to stop making misinformed remarks about the global economic crisis, or whatever it is they're calling it now. Sooner or later it's going to get me into trouble and I'll find myself talking to somebody who actually knows a few things about economics.

No comments: