To Jump Or Not To Jump

Q.  Several young PR professionals have asked the same question:  How long should I stay in my first job before switching to another firm?

A.  The simple answer is to stay as long as it’s working for you–but give it at least 18 months.  It generally takes a year to get to know and to feel a part of any organization, and promotions usually occur within the first year to 18 months.  Although no longer true with corporate positions, it still is very possible to spend an entire career at one agency.  Consider who holds the top jobs in many major agencies and you’ll notice the longevity of their careers within those firms.  Here are my five signs that it’s time to find another job.  Please add other signs that you have experienced. 

Five Signs It’s Time to Move On

1.  Clock watcher syndrome.  You watch the clock and can’t wait to escape the office every night.  This is a symptom that suggests re-thinking career direction, unless you’re in one of the very few boring jobs in this exciting and challenging profession. 

2.  The thrill is gone.  You have no passion for the work that you currently are doing.  If you truly love PR but are not enjoying your current role, discuss your feelings with your manager.  In the agency world, it could be as simple as moving onto a new client.  In a corporate environment, it could be as easy as moving from a media relations role to internal communications. 

3.  No one is paying attention.  You should receive feedback from your manager, both casual and formal on a regular basis.   Don’t be afraid to request an opportunity to talk about your work to date so you can best meet the needs of your position.  Too few people ask the question:  “So, how am I doing?”  You’ll usually be thrilled with the answer, plus it shows interest and initiative. 

4.  The sky is falling.  Whether through corporate downsizing or significant client losses at agencies, everyone should be prepared with an emergency exit plan.  Those who correctly read the signs early will have the most successful evacuation plan.  Talent, however, still rises to the occasion.  Don’t assume a need to move on if you are doing an outstanding job.  A-players at all levels are even more important to an organization going through change. 

5.  If the grass truly is “greener.”   A note of caution:  It could be Astroturf.  Always discuss your offer with your supervisor before announcing your decision to move on.   If he or she does not try to talk you out of the move, it’s a definite sign to bid farewell.  Don’t avoid the opportunity to seek feedback that can help you address any issues that you don’t want to crop up in your new gig.

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