Given that your career trajectory is going up, there will come a point if you want to decide to take on more responsibility that comes with a promotion, or to pursue your career growth elsewhere.
Below are a few questions you can ask yourself to see which option suits your life plan better.
But before we head into it, what is a promotion? What counts as one?
Generally speaking, a promotion in your job should involve 2 things: 1, an increase in responsibility with 2, a directly related increase in compensation. Usually there’s a title change involved as well (from Junior to Senior, for example).
Aside from these basic things, a lot of other perks may involve a promotion: shifting from doing the brunt work to managing the team that does it; more face time with the higher bosses; a corner office; the additional headcount of having your own assistant; etc.
And while a promotion is usually good news, it’s also a clear crossroad in your life. Below are a few questions you should ask to weigh between the two options: should you stay or should you go?
1) Where can I have the most growth?
Growth is possibly one of the most important factors you can consider when taking another step in your career. And to make the question more concrete, simply ask yourself: what do I want to learn more of?
A few things:
• You can think of it in terms of skills (e.g. how to manage a team; working directly with top management; technical know-how; etc)
• Or life experiences (Is it an assignment to a foreign office? Does it give you the opportunity to live abroad alone? Or make new friends from another culture?)
It all boils down to: what aspects of yourself do you wish to improve? And can this promotion get you there? If it does, then great. But if it doesn’t, perhaps it’s time to start looking elsewhere.
2) Where do I see myself in 5 years?
In relation to what you want to learn, we would ask you to take it a step further: why? Why do you want to learn those skills or life experiences? How does Skill X or Life Experience Y get you from Point A (where you are now) to Point B (where you want be in 5 years)?
Visualize your ideal self: how do you want position yourself in the job market? Do you want to be known as a specialist in your current field? Publish a book regarding your findings? Eventually rise up to the top management of the company? Then go and take the promotion.
Or have you always dreamt of eventually doing different work? Always told yourself that, somewhere down the line, once you got the relevant skills and enough capital, you’d take the leap and pursue that ideal role?
If that’s the case, then perhaps it’s time to look in another company.
After all, every decision you say “yes” to is a “no” to something else. So while a promotion is generally a good thing, saying yes to the wrong one only holds you back by another 1-2 years before you can pursue what you were always planning to do.
This exercise of imagining where you’ll be in 5 years helps because you start taking stock of how many years it will actually take to end up where you wanna go. And if doing this next step doesn’t bring you closer to that, then perhaps it’s time to change course.
3) Are the pains worth the gains?
On an economical level, promotions usually mean more responsibility. In other words? More work. And while it’s always good to take on more work and test your capacity, you should still see if it’s proportionate to what you’re about to receive: is the salary increase worth the extra hours? Will the addition of the assistant diffuse the workload? Can they promise you more flexible time with your family in exchange for handling a team?
Concretize it for yourself: what are your values? Do you value freedom and a flexible schedule? And if it is, can this promotion come with that?
Or do you value financial stability? Are you saving up for your children’s education? Can this promotion offer that, or could you possibly get a job elsewhere that has higher pay with the same job description?
At the end of the day, everyone’s assignment of value on gains is different. And it’s those differences that determine what kind of challenges you’re willing to take on.
If handling a whole team sounds like a hassle (even with the increased pay), then maybe the promotion isn’t what you should take. Or if working more hours is worth it because it means you get to save up more for a house with your spouse, then you should take the offer.
Write down your values, and how your priorities will be affected because of those values. See if the job offer is worth living those values out—or if you should look elsewhere.
Either way, this position is a very privileged one to have. You just have to make sure you maximize it for what it’s worth—and use it as the opportunity that it is to springboard your career.