Should you quit to climb up the career ladder? | Product Professionals
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Should you quit to climb up the career ladder?

Should you stay or should you go?

Staying with your current employer comes with many advantages. First of all, you can use your already established network. Your manager, colleagues and stakeholders already know who you are and how you work. You can leverage internal references across divisions and get recommendations easily. Moreover, staying within the company allows you to look for a team or position that really fits your desired next step. There are little risks when it comes to company culture, team fit and expected work. When thinking about thriving within your current company take those advantages and disadvantages into account.

// ADVANTAGES

1. Use your current network

If you know where you want to go, make sure the right people know about it. Be transparent to your manager what you want to achieve next and where you see yourself in the next year. It is crucial to be transparent about your aspirations otherwise no one will know and can do anything about it. As Product Manager you are in a very comfortable situation as you have a huge network per se resulting from your everyday business. You have connections to many departments from marketing over sales to data analytics. When you consider making a move, make sure to foster especially those relationships that are in the area of your interest. However, that does not mean to connect with people just to take advantage. Be honest and open, and ask them to support you in your endeavors. Leverage what’s already there.

2. You stay in your comfort zone

Everyone tells you to leave your comfort zone. Surely you should do so from time to time. However, sometimes you are better off staying right where you are. Why? It simply saves resources and capacity. The time and effort you will need to invest to get on track in a new organization when leaving, can be invested better in internal projects. If you feel like doing something different, look out for internal initiatives and side projects to contribute to. Participate in hackathons, knowledge sharing sessions or introduce new methodologies to your team. You can also invest your time outside your organization by participating in events and meetups to broaden your network, become a contributor to conferences, start writing your own blog or even a start-up. The world is open for you and your talents. Use it!
I have no doubt that there are hundred ways to place your energy right. So, staying in your comfort is not about laziness or the resistance to broaden one’s horizon, it is rather about being efficient and smart in using your energy right.

3. Your safe haven

Staying right where you are comes in handy especially in situations of a crisis. Our world moves fast, and so do businesses. Before taking the decision to quit your current job, ensure that you are well informed about the actual situation and financial healthiness of the new company. When companies get into trouble and need to save money, the first costs that are cut are often new hires in their probation period. Therefore, you will always be on the safer side in terms of job security right where you currently are. Also do not overreact and fall into blind actionism just because your company changes. Restructuring and personnel changes are common strategies for businesses to undertake in order to remain updated. Rather consider those kinds of transformations as a new chance for yourself to make something out of it for your own benefit.

// DISADVANTAGES

1. Restricted career opportunities

Depending on your organizational structure climbing up the career ladder might be limited. Especially in companies with flat hierarchies there are often less positions on a management level available. If you aim for example at a leading position within your own department that might be difficult to achieve. People go up in hierarchy one by one and if your Product Management organization is rather small, it is tricky to go up too. However, bear in mind that this point heavily depends on your company set up.

2. Alternation of your current standing

You are well known within your organization as the expert in gaining customer insights. Awesome! Well, sometimes you do not want to be perceived as expert in a certain field anymore and you want to change that perception of yourself. In a well-established role that turns out to be hard sometimes. Your colleagues know you for “something” and they value you for that, but if that is not how you would like to be perceived it will be hard to turn around the rudder. In contrast, moving into a new environment allows you to step on a greenfield: no preconceptions, no biases whatsoever. You can position yourself exactly as you wish and start to steer your reputation in your desired way. The downside here though is that it requires effort.

3. You are limited in learning

One might say that most of the companies foster continuous learning thoroughly and that their employees have all the freedom to learn new things. That is true indeed. However, the point here is that at the end of the day you are still surrounded by the same kind of people, the same industry with similar issues ever since. The likelihood of experiencing a tremendous change within the same company is rather low. To make it more precise, here are two examples: when you worked for a native digital business with about 500 employees, an open culture, flat hierarchies and agile approaches, you will hardly be able to change into an environment where you suddenly work on hardware products, follow release processes and need to go for lunch dates systematically to extend your network within the corporate world. Therefore, you should be certain and reflected on what you really want and then look whether your current employer can provide you with this. The reason to leave a company is not so of often that the current company is bad, but rather you looking for something that your current company will never be able to provide.

// Should you stay at your current company to climb up the career ladder where people already know you or should you start looking for a better position at a different company? As you have seen the answer to that question is not trivial and varies heavily from your role, industry, age and many other factors. It depends on your personal goals and future aspirations. If you are not certain whether it is the right way for your to stay, either consult friends or close colleagues or continue reading more about it in the following article: “Does job-hopping push your product career?”


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Written by Sabrina Rzepka & Tobias Beau
Written by Sabrina Rzepka & Tobias Beau

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More food for thought?