Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - JOBS & WORK - — Marco Buscaglia, Ca­reers

The dra­matic job exit is a thing of beauty.

You know the ones — the fed-up em­ployee leav­ing in a ver­bal storm of pent-up anger and “I’ll-show-you!” ex­ple­tives; the let-go worker scream­ing “you can’t fire me! I quit!,” as he walks out of his boss’ of­fice; the box-car­ry­ing staffer who un­leashes a soft-spo­ken but dev­as­tat­ing farewell on her way out of the of­fice.

In re­al­ity, most job ex­its are much more sub­tle

— an emailed let­ter of res­ig­na­tion; a no-non­sense, somber two-week no­tice; a mu­tu­ally agreed-upon de­par­ture. Let’s face it, when most em­ploy­ees quit, there isn’t ex­actly a run­ning sound­track of “Take this Job and Shove It,” Johnny Pay­check’s 1977 coun­try-mu­sic an­them for dis­grun­tled work­ers ev­ery­where, play­ing in the back­ground.

That’s be­cause most em­ploy­ees choose to leave their jobs for com­pounded rea­sons, which can in­clude years of small­per­cent­age raises, changes in man­age­ment or in­creas­ing dis­in­ter­est in their work. “Quitting a job is usu­ally a pretty bor­ing act,” says Peter Black­well, a ca­reer consultant in New York City. “It’s not about burn­ing bridges and get­ting even. It’s about mak­ing a move that ben­e­fits you as an em­ployee, so the less fire­works, the bet­ter.”

Black­well says an in­creas­ingly com­mon rea­son for leav­ing com­pa­nies has lit­tle to do with raises or work­load. In fact, Black­well says, peo­ple of­ten leave jobs be­cause they can’t find any rea­son to stay. “It’s more about loyalty,” he says. “To­day’s em­ploy­ees feel less at­tached to their com­pa­nies. They think their em­ployer is blasé about them so they, in turn, are blasé about their em­ployer.”

Loyal no more

Shadd We­ber, a for­mer job an­a­lyst with the U.S. Depart­ment of La­bor, agrees that job loyalty is a thing of the past. “Not only does switch­ing jobs help you stay fo­cused and mo­ti­vated, but it can also bring you more money,” says We­ber.

While We­ber ad­mits his sce­nario ap­plies more to white-col­lar work­ers than those work­ing in la­bor, he says that with the vastly im­proved job mar­ket over the past decade, em­ploy­ees are likely to find new op­por­tu­ni­ties that can in­crease their salaries by as much as 10 per­cent. “Peo­ple leave jobs to make more money, but they also are mo­ti­vated by dif­fer­ent rea­sons,” he says. “They may feel like they’ve been left be­hind when their com­pany promotes oth­ers; they may feel like they don’t get the re­spect they de­serve from their su­per­vi­sors and co-work­ers; and in some cases, they may have per­son­al­ity clashes with the peo­ple they work with. All are le­git­i­mate rea­sons to leave. But peo­ple will put up with those types of sce­nar­ios if they know they can make more money.”

We­ber ad­mits that job sta­bil­ity had re­cently fallen out of fash­ion as a rea­son to stick with a job that may not suit you be­cause em­ploy­ees knew there were other op­por­tu­ni­ties out there. The re­cent fed­eral shut­down com­bined with con­tin­ued lay­offs by suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies for rea­sons other than a loss in mar­ket share or rev­enue — “un­ex­plain­able rea­sons to the av­er­age worker, even if they make sense to the com­pany’s bot­tom line,” he says — makes We­ber think the job-se­cu­rity pen­du­lum may be swing­ing the other way.

“Look, if you’re start­ing a fam­ily or are in­ter­ested in liv­ing a life­style that in­cludes travel, a great place to live and some of the finer things in life, then you’ll be less likely to want to pick up and move ev­ery two or three years. You’ll want the se­cu­rity that comes with know­ing you can hang on to a job for many years and con­tinue to make a de­cent liv­ing,” he says.

Hello, good­bye

Jane McCarthy has been work­ing in cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions since she was 24 years old. Now 59, the Louisville, Ken­tucky, res­i­dent says when she started with United Parcel Ser­vice in At­lanta in 1984, she re­al­ized she was fill­ing a need most com­pa­nies didn’t even re­al­ize they had. “And when email took off, reg­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tions with em­ploy­ees be­came more pro­nounced, so com­pa­nies were look­ing for peo­ple to help them do that.”

As a re­sult, McCarthy says she changed jobs of­ten, mov­ing to At­lanta to Or­lando, Mi­ami, Charlotte, back to At­lanta, on to Mem­phis, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Omaha and fi­nally, to Louisville. “I’d say I’ve done OK fi­nan­cially but 10 moves in 30 years can take its toll,” McCarthy says. “I re­tired at the end of last year to take care of my mother, who now stays with me, and still can’t de­cide where I want to live. I feel like I never stayed long enough in one city to put down roots.”

Still, McCarthy says she doesn’t regret mov­ing for dif­fer­ent jobs, even though she ad­mits many of her moves weren’t to im­prove her sit­u­a­tion. “I’m kind of a free spirit who gets eas­ily bored with where I work and where I live so if I could find a new job with equal or bet­ter pay, as soon as I got rest­less, I jumped at it,” she says.

To­day, McCarthy ad­mits she some­times wonders what might have hap­pened had she stayed with one of her ini­tial em­ploy­ers. “Un­less you’re in up­per man­age­ment, you’re go­ing to ei­ther make lat­eral moves with the hope of get­ting a pro­mo­tion or you’ll get a job that’s one level up from your cur­rent job, and I’ve found that a job that’s one level up from where you are is ba­si­cally the same job,” she says.

Had she stayed in one place longer, McCarthy feels like she would have had the chance to move into se­nior man­age­ment. “I was very good at my job, but I worked a lot in the shad­ows. When you’re new, that’s what hap­pens,” she says. “When you’re new, you’re com­pet­ing for pro­mo­tions with peo­ple who’ve been there for years. It’s like run­ning a race. If you start two miles be­hind some­one in a marathon and you’re both good run­ners, it’s go­ing to be tough to catch up.”

You may miss some of your co-work­ers, but switch­ing jobs can help you stay fo­cused and mo­ti­vated, and also bring you more salary.

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