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During my twenty something years in procurement line-management roles, I moved organisations five times and considered many more moves – and indeed failed to get numerous roles that I did apply for! I felt that there were four key factors to consider when I was thinking about whether it was a good time to move.
  1. Is the work stimulating? Am I learning and developing new skills, being challenged and moving forwards? Or am I just doing the same things again and again, or doing work that is unsatisfying or boring? Public sector jobs often score highly on this question – many are fascinating as they combine both technical aspects with the need to consider political or social factors.
  2. What are my future prospects in this organisation? Can I see a route to progress, get promoted, earn more money? Can I achieve whatever my career goals might be? this very much depends where you work. With money tight in the public sector, there may be fewer opportunities for promotion and advancement. On the other hand, good people eill still do well, we suspect.
  3. Am I enjoying the current role in terms of what we might call the “soft” factors? Do I like the people I work with, is the travelling or commuting reasonable, is the atmosphere and working environment good? They might not seem like hugely important issues, but a big reason for me leaving one job was the amount of travelling I was doing, and a travel policy that meant I was forced to stay in really poor hotels whilst I did it!
  4. How well am I being rewarded? Am I paid my market value? Public sector salaries have been frozen or even cut in many countries, so this may be an issue for many people. However, be careful to include the whole package of benefits. I certainly did not appreciate early in my career the real value of a good pension scheme, for instance – something that is still a big benefit of the public sector in many countries.

My personal view was that if a job scored three “positives” out of four, I would probably not be looking very actively to move. Equally, if it came down to just one out of four, then I definitely would be looking! Everyone has their own view of risk of course, and their own individual factors. For some, a job that allows flexible working might be a huge positive. For others, money is the most important issue.

But it is important to think in a structured manner about your situation and take everything into account. I know one young man who recently moved because he was determined to get a job in a big city – he was looking for a more exciting life outside work really. Within days he realised that the new job was less satisfying, and the new firm was just a much less pleasant place to work. He had been fixated on location, rather than considering all the factors. (The good news is that his old organisation took him back)! Equally, I know people who have hated their job for years, but just get stuck when really they should move.

So evaluate all the points that matter to you, look at the risk but also the opportunities, and then make a considered decision. Good luck!

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