Think twice about changing jobs if you’re offered a similar role elsewhere for a bit more money.
Even if your boss and job are great, you will likely eventually want to move on.This is an important — and, likely, irreversible — decision.So make and communicate it carefully!
As we’ve discussed, you are the CEO of your career.
And, as CEO, you’ll occasionally have to do one of the hardest jobs that any decent human ever has to do: Fire someone.
Specifically, at some point, you will likely have to fire your boss and move on to your next job. When and why and how you do this are important. So be deliberate.
When and why to move on
There are two good reasons to get a new job.
The first is that your current job just isn’t working, despite your best efforts to manage your boss and make your relationship and job mutually beneficial. This might be your boss’s fault. Or it might be yours. Or it might just be a bad fit. But once you have done what you can to fix the situation, don’t just give up and suffer. Your career (and life) are too important for that.
The second reason—a happier one—is that you have gotten everything you can out of your current job and boss and are ready to take your next career step. Deciding to do this may make you feel like you are betraying your boss or employer, but you aren’t. Jobs aren’t like diamonds and marriages: They’re not “forever.” So, although it is natural and decent to regret leaving people you like, you don’t owe your boss or organization any more of your future than you committed to giving them.
So, here are some times that, for the sake of your career, you’ll want to fire your boss and move on:
You’ve learned that your current job or career path isn’t for you. Life’s too short to waste time.
You want to take a better opportunity somewhere else. Ditto.
You’ve learned everything you can in your current job (or from your current boss) and are ready for your next career challenge. Ditto.
Your manager is a bad boss and/or incompetent and is holding back your career and/or making your life miserable. Ditto. (But make sure that you have tried to fix the situation and that the problem isn’t you.)
Your boss is unethical. This one is a three-alarm fire. If your boss ever wants you to do something you think is morally wrong, talk to your mentors — and, possibly, HR. And unless these folks persuade you that what your boss wants is not actually unethical, don’t do it. Keep your integrity. Find another job.
Meanwhile, here are some bad reasons to switch jobs:
You don’t feel like your boss appreciates you enough. We all want and deserve to feel appreciated, and if your boss is taking you for granted, this is indeed a failure on their part. But, by itself, it’s not worth quitting over. If you otherwise enjoy your job, try to fix this problem with communication. (“Hello, Boss! You didn’t say much about that big project I turned in last week. I want to make sure you’re happy with my work. So would you mind if I asked you some questions about it?”)
Co-workers at the same level are getting paid more even though you’re more effective. This is also best addressed with communication, at least at first. Ask how your organization determines how much to pay people and how — and when — you can expect your compensation to progress. If you can’t get a clear explanation, this might, in fact, become a good reason to move on.
You are offered a similar job elsewhere for a bit more money. We all want to be paid what we’re worth. But money isn’t the only factor in job satisfaction (far from it), and your current job, boss, and organization may be better for you in other ways. Also, it’s smart to avoid “lateral” moves — switching to substantially the same job or level at a different organization or team — unless you have a very good reason for making them. So, here, too, try communication first: Ask what you need to do to get a raise and, ideally, a promotion. Then your next outside offer will be for a lot more money!
Should you tell your boss you’re looking?
It’s easier to get a job when you have one, so if you have a choice, you’ll probably want to find your next gig while doing your current one. This also has the benefit of allowing you to keep your salary and benefits while you look.
(It’s not unethical to look for a new job while you have one, by the way. Your current boss and employer don’t own you. As long as you continue to honor any commitments you made, you can use your own time how you want — including exploring future opportunities.)
Your next job can either be within your current organization or outside it. There are pros and cons to each, so be open to both.
The most important thing is to make your next move a good move for you.
Not your current employer or boss. You.
Because it’s your career and your life.
Should you tell your current boss you’re looking?
Ideally, yes. In general, it’s good to be as transparent as possible. But be careful how you do it.
And there are some circumstances — and bosses — in which sharing the news ahead of time may not make sense. So make that decision carefully, too.
And when it comes time to actually fire your boss — to tell them that you are leaving — practice the conversation ahead of time. People always remember when and how they get fired — including people who are bosses. So you want to do it as decently and compassionately as you can.
All of these communications can be tricky and nuanced, as can be looking for a new job while still doing your current one. So I’ll write about them in more detail soon.