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Look before you leap from your job

Published on Thursday, 27 Jan 2011
Illustration: Bay Leung

To quit, or not to quit - that is the question faced by many professionals who have bagged a fat bonus, as the fiscal year nears its end.

"I've been thinking of resigning after receiving the bonus cheque," says Stephanie (not her real name), a 29-year-old legal compliance professional working in a United States investment bank in Hong Kong. "Many people in our business leave after getting a batch of money."

While tendering a resignation usually means saying goodbye to an over-demanding boss or unreasonable workload, or moving on to greener pastures, it may incur risks such as long-term unemployment and career instability.

The key is to know when to hang on and when to make a move, says Lily Sum Shuk-man, director of interpersonal ministry at Breakthrough, a Christian-based non-profit group.

"There's usually a transitional period of a year or two when one gets a new job. So give yourself some time to decide whether you have landed the wrong job or are going through an adjustment period," Sum says.

Chan Shan-ho, chairman of the Hong Kong Small & Medium Enterprises General Association, says young executives need time to understand their bosses, and vice versa.

Changing jobs frequently - particularly just for a pay rise - may harm their career prospects as it could be taken as a sign of immaturity or unreliability.

"You may earn money more quickly, but it will be difficult for bosses of your trade to recognise and appreciate your talents," Chan says. "Nobody would want to hire you if they saw from your resume that you switched jobs every year."

While it is unwise to quit in the heat of the moment, what if - after some soul-searching - you still dread going to work every morning?

Sum says people don't like going to work because they are either "under-functioning" or "over-functioning".

"We feel repelled or bored if a job doesn't use and develop our talents," she says. "It's equally bad if there's too much pressure, as when you need to always work overtime or handle tasks you cannot cope with."

Sometimes people should be blamed for their difficulties at work, such as when they have a bad work attitude. But there are also difficulties that are beyond our control, and a mismatch between your personality and your company's corporate culture is one of them.

"I enjoy what I do, but I doubt if I want to stay in this company," says Stephanie, who toils at least 16 hours a day. "American companies have a very aggressive work culture. Maybe I will move to a European firm or other less high-pressured positions in the financial sector."

Health is another issue that cannot be compromised. If your work makes you sick, you should start scouting for a new job before it's too late.

Emma (not her real name), a 28-year-old media professional, says she has been suffering from sleep and back problems over the past year due to work pressure.

She soldiered on until the situation deteriorated to the point where she could not sleep without medication. "I don't know if I can survive any longer," she says. "I like my work, but I know it's time to call it quits."


Analyse the causes and effects of moving on

  • Facts: What happened? Recall sequences of incidents, critical events or details that have led to your current work situation.
  • Feelings: How did you feel? Tune into your experiences, gut feeling and intuition. How did you feel when your boss told you off?
  • Findings: Any lessons? Explore and interpret the reasons leading to the situation. Why are you always behind schedule? Are you bored with your job? Are you overworked?
  • Future: Any effects? Analyse yourself and your job. What types of work suit your personality? Do you need to move on to dream big? Explore opportunities and options.

 

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