A friend emailed me recently asking for my advice about her current job situation. Instead of writing her back privately I decided this would be a great post for our twenty something advice series. I am posting her question, with some details changed, along with my advice and I would love input from you as well.
Her question: is should I stay or should I start looking for other jobs where I will have guaranteed advancement and more challenging creative projects?
Here’s some background:
I work as a “Graphic Artist” at a XYZ company, I’ve been there for about a year and half. There is only one other designer in the department and she just got promoted to Design Services Supervisor, they didn’t give her a Manager title so that they wouldn’t have to pay her as much. Her recent promotion made me realize that this job might not be as nice as I thought initially. Her promotion didn’t put her above me so I still technically report to the Sr. Director of Marketing Communications (she’s a total micro manager … worst-people-skills-I-have-ever-seen kind of boss). BUT the boss doesn’t want to deal with me, or anyone else, so she asks the other design girl to review some of my work, but then the other girl has to get approval from the boss. It’s a circus.
The boss doesn’t hate me, but she’d also rather we never spoke. She doesn’t even say hi to me and either cancels my one-on-one meeting with her or just doesn’t show up. She’s the only director who doesn’t hold staff meetings, so our entire team is always in the dark. It’s amazing that we get everything done on time with absolutely no direction.
Other bad parts:
I feel like I have lost all of the innovative design skills I learned from art school because I do the same thing over and over again. It’s always the same style because 99% of our work is conservative, only occasionally do I get to design something a little bit different for special events.
· I get to create custom illustrations, 4 a year (wish it was more). The other design girl and I have created two issues of a magazine … because they wanted to leverage my illustration skills. And the girl and I have complete creative control on the look and feel. We design the whole thing, pick all the photos, create all the ads, and work with the vendor to get it published.
· I have my own office, the location of our headquarters is breathtaking (on the lake), I have stocks and the company is still private which means I’ll (hopefully) make a good amount of $ if/when we go public, the benefits are great, the pay is decent, most of our company is around my age and fun to work with.
So here’s my question:
Should I stay or should I start looking for other jobs where I will have guaranteed advancement and more challenging creative projects? Have you had experience working in a corporate environment? My boyfriend works at a very good advertising agency and a job there sounds like heaven compared to where I am. But I know no company is perfect, and there will be difficult people everywhere. So I am torn.
Here is my advice in a nutshell … trust your instincts. I am a firm believer in doing what feels right for you. I can sit and weigh your options for you and say that it sounds like you have more bad than good but if you are learning something, enjoying yourself or don’t feel like you are quite ready to make a change then I say stay, at least for now. We are beyond the days of growing old with a company, but that also doesn’t mean you need to change jobs just for the sake of changing.
I am a list maker so I like to make lists to help me make decisions. For me I’d put creativity pretty high up on the “ideal job list”. If you made a list of everything you’d want in your perfect job and compared it to your current job, where would you end up? Is your current job leading you down the right path or steering you in the opposite direction?
If you feel like you are ready to make a change I would start by checking out your options. I would definitely make sure that you are making a move up and not lateral. An upward move can manifest in many different ways including financially, a move on the career path, adding more creativity, flexibility, etc. Again, what’s important to you is what matters most. Though a great view is a nice perk it’s not a selling point for me to stay at a job that I don’t like.
I do know that not every job is perfect and some people completely hate their job. So I am not saying that you are going to get that ideal job on your list but it’s important to know if you are settling for something that’s not aligned to your ultimate goals at all.
In order to keep from driving yourself crazy making this decision I recommend that people make a decision and set a time limit for when that decision will be reevaluated. For example, let’s say you think eventually you would like to find a new job but for now you will stay at XYZ Company. My suggestion would be that you decide a date to reevaluate this decision – December 1st for example. That would mean until then you don’t even allow yourself to question back and forth should I stay or should I go. Your decision is not permanent, you are just deciding for now this is the decision I am making. Constantly second guessing yourself and your decisions creates unnecessary stress and angst.
I’d love to know what you guys think. And to the person who wrote me this you are welcome to comment anonymously if you like.