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Monday, August 27, 2007

guilt about job searching

A reader writes:

I have been working at my current job for about a year now. I started off bored at work but thought I'd get busier as the position settles down. A year later and I am still as bored as ever. I've started considering other positions because I feel my skills are going to pot because of the inactivity.

One thing that developed is that we are in the middle of a huge project at my current job -- an overhaul of our company web site and I am part of the team to implement and usher in the redesign project. So I anticipate things will be much busier at work pretty soon and I'll have as much work as I can handle in planning, content migration, etc.

Would I be doing my current company a disservice if I suddenly quit in the middle of this redesign process and took on another job -- one more in line with my graduate school degree which I just completed a few months ago? I know that we are short staffed and losing me would be a major blow to the team. But if by a stroke of luck, I happen to get hired at a job that is much more suited for my skills, interests and career plans in the future, would it be a wrong thing to do? Should I stick out the redesign process and then apply for jobs AFTER the new web site has been implemented? Or being an at will employee anyway, I really don't owe my loyalties to this employer who, by designating me an at will employee, indicates it feels no particular loyalty to me either?

I guess I am just feeling a bit guilty about letting down my team and the possibility of jumping ship right in the middle of a very important period.

What would you think if you were my manager?

It's interesting to me how often this question comes up. Yes, employers are disappointed to lose good employees -- but this is part of life, and all but the crazy/irrational managers recognize this. You've been there a year, you're not satisfied, and if you're able to find something you'd prefer to do, do it.

Something else to keep in mind: There's rarely a "good" time to leave a job. True, some periods are better than others, but it's very difficult to time a job search to guarantee that the offer you want will come at the ideal time in your current job. Your job search might take months; it might take less. There's no knowing. If you want to explore what's out there, go for it.

You asked what I'd think if I were your manager. If you gave me a reasonable amount of notice (minimum of two weeks, three is even better, four will make me love you for life), left your work in good order, and provided thorough documentation for your replacement, you'd leave on excellent terms.

(All that said, though, have you considered talking to your manager about the aspects of your job that are keeping you from being satisfied there? Before you move on, it might be worth seeing if changes can be made that can keep you happy where you currently are. I always want that opportunity when I value an employee. Something to think about.)