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Promoting Yourself by Quitting Your Job

Cite this article as: Jason Mance Gordon, "Promoting Yourself by Quitting Your Job," in The Business Professor, updated December 17, 2019, last accessed April 8, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/knowledge-base/promoting-yourself-by-quitting-your-job/.

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The title of this article may seem counter-intuitive. How can you promote yourself by quitting your job? The answer is that quitting may lead to other (better) opportunities. While you are not technically promoting yourself (as you are leaving the organization), the resulting career options may feel like a promotion.

Below are some of the situation in which you may consider quitting your job for a better opportunity:

Changing Companies

If you have a better offer from another company, you have a decision to make. Should you use the offer as leverage with your current company for a promotion or better benefits? Or, should you thank your company for its time and pursue the new offer. There are up and downsides to each option. Your current company and position is a known commodity. You experience there will tell you whether it meets your internal needs and provides the level of contentment the you look for long term. A new company, on the other hand, is a big uncertainty. You cannot fully know the culture or job characteristics before actually working there. As such, jumping ship can be a big risk.

On the other hand, your company had every opportunity in the world to promote you before you received the offer from the new company. The fact that you have to threaten the company with leaving to make them realize your talent and reward it appropriately can be highly frustrating.

Changing Industries

It may be that you have decided to change industries entirely. This may be very difficult in many companies. If you are mid-level marketing professional, it could be difficult for you to move to a finance field in which you do not have a great deal of experience. The company may be reluctant to consider your for a lower-level position than you currently hold.

One situation in which it is very common to leave a job for another industry is when you are going back to school. It is quite common for MBA students to change industries coming out of their educational programs. Undertaking new courses of study and the internship experience that is customary in between the first and second years of the MBA program make this transition far more feasible.

Without an existing job offer or a plan to re-tool and retrain yourself through an educational program, it may not be the best idea to quit your job to change industries.

Starting Your Own Business

Another very common reason for quitting a job is to pursue your own business venture. Most entrepreneurs in the United States pursue businesses in career paths that they well understand by virtue of working in that industry beforehand. The essence of starting a new business is to deliver a value proposition strategically that allows the business to exist and compete among the sea of existing competitors. While working at your current company, you may have identified a value proposition that is not being adequately delivered. For example, you may identify a service for which your company is paying an outrageous price. You realize that you could win your company’s contract for this service and still make a handsome profit. This can be the motivating force to break away and start your own business.

Other people start a business simply out of an inability to find employment that meets their internal needs. For example, the employee may want more control of the business or decision-making authority, a sense of ownership in the business outcomes, personal recognition for business accomplishments, additional flexibility in work schedule, the potential for higher compensation, etc. Any of these reasons can be a strong justification for leaving your current position.

I do recommend that you have a strong foundation for the business you wish to start before leaving your current employment. Starting a business requires a great deal of effort and time. It can also take a considerable amount of time before the business becomes sustainable (or profitable). As such, you should prepare accordingly for the work and sacrifices that starting your own business entails.

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