You’ve given it everything at your job–under-promising and over-delivering on every project. You have a good relationship with your manager, and you’ve heard nothing but compliments from their boss. Yet nobody has said anything about promoting you. You’re not entirely sure why, and you’re hesitant to ask. So you turn your attention outward, and you start looking for higher-level positions elsewhere. You impress a hiring manager with your attitude and experience, and you find yourself with an offer in hand–for a job with a better title and salary.
You schedule a meeting with your boss to give your notice. But before you can open your mouth, she tells you that management has been impressed with your performance and decided to award you with a promotion. What do you do now?
It’s difficult to choose between two great opportunities. Start by asking yourself these four questions before you make a call on whether to stay or go.
1) Where will I be most engaged?
If the work you currently do engages you, and you know you’ll feel that way after your promotion, you have a strong reason for staying put. On the other hand, if you hate your job, and you’re not that excited about your new responsibilities, then no job title or salary increase is worth staying for.
The benefits of a higher title and increased salary will wear off quickly when you realize the work itself isn’t that compelling to you anymore. What won’t wear off is doing work that intrinsically drives you. What that looks like will differ from person to person–but it can mean anything from working to solve problems that interest you to being able to express yourself creatively.
Ultimately, you need to ask yourself, where will I feel most satisfied? What position makes me want to get out of bed in the morning? That’s where you need to work.
2) Which job gives me more opportunity to make a difference?
Your career is a marathon, not a sprint. In addition to evaluating how you will grow in your next role, you should also consider what the next job might be. Which of the two companies can give you better long-term opportunities in which you can make a difference? A difference maker is someone who can see the impact of his or her work on the organization. Not only will that make you more marketable later–understanding the impact you have taps into your intrinsic motivation, which means you’ll be much happier in the long run.
3) Where can I work with people that challenge me?
It’s important to work with people who share your values—but it’s equally important to surround yourself with people who have divergent views, see the world through other lenses, and have different life experiences from you. You will likely learn more, feel more challenged, and therefore experience higher job satisfaction. Research shows that when you work in a diverse environment, innovation flourishes. When a company is innovative, you’ll also find that there are plenty of opportunities to tackle interesting work.
Will you find that in your current company or can you see it more in the company you are considering? It’s comfortable to work with people who think like you–but to grow in your career, you need to be deliberate about broadening your perspective.
4) Which company aligns best with my values and purpose?
Fundamentally, your job satisfaction rests on one fundamental question–which role and company align best with your values and long-term purpose?
You can work with the smartest people in the world and be part of the most cutting-edge projects, but if you don’t agree with how the company contributes to society, you won’t feel good about going to sleep at night. No job is worth that, especially when you have a choice.