Why the Grass Isn't Always Greener

by Michelle Kruse | July 15, 2015

  • My Vault

Like most parents of young children, part of my nightly routine involves a bit of bedtime reading. Recently my children stumbled across a large book of Aesop's fables—the same book my mother read to me when I was young. It is heavy, a bit musty, and the pages are yellowed, but the stories are just as good as they were in my memories. Last week, we came across the story of the Wolf and the Goat.

To summarize this short gem, the wolf is at the bottom of a cliff, unable to eat the goat. He explains to the goat that the grass is greener below his own feet, however the wise goat questions the wolf's intent and lives another day.

Sound familiar? Yep, it's the classic grass is greener on the other side metaphor. And while we can apply this to almost all areas of life, it's particularly relevant for job-seekers in the business world. Like the goat, everyone will at some point have to decide whether things will be better working for another employer, or if that greener grass is just an illusion. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when faced with making such a decision.

Why are you looking?

There must be something that has led you to this crossroads. You should be able to pinpoint what is frustrating about your current situation. If you find yourself unable to answer this question, then you're likely just jumping from one burning building to the next, and you may soon find yourself in a pattern of "start and leave" employment, which isn't fun—and doesn't look great on your resume.

 What will be different?

Once you've identified why you want to leave, you'll want to ask how you think the new employer will be different—and better—than your current employer. Sure, there are the low-hanging fruits such as salary or maybe title, but make sure that you've fully recognized all the changes you'll face. Things like commute or new tolls may be relatively minimal inconveniences, but what about the culture? If you're leaving from one organization to another because there is a hefty salary increase, you should be asking yourself about the tradeoff.

A dear friend of mine was floored when a recruiter dialed her up and two weeks later she was presented with an offer with a 120 percent salary increase—that's game-changing dough! Thirty days into the new position she would call me, in tears, on her drive home. The environment she found herself in was as toxic as the grounds of Chernobyl. Had she done some additional investigating, it's likely she would have come to this conclusion before it was too late. She now refers to the eight months she worked there as her personal "Inferno" which, by the way, she claims was, "way worse that Mr. Dante's."

Have I tried?

I love the quote, "If the grass looks greener, try watering your lawn first." This is an important concept and one that we, as employees, all too often overlook. If you're able to identify why you are ready to leave, can you honestly tell yourself that you've tried to solve the issue within your current situation? If it is money, have you asked for a raise? If it's a toxic co-worker, have you asked to be re-assigned?

While they're often thought of as red-lines on a company's ledger, human capital is being considered an asset by more and more savvy employers. It's costly to recruit and re-train new employees. While advertisements for retention benefits simply don't exist as bright and flashy signs, you can be certain that they do exist to some degree at all organizations—all successful organizations, that is. Make sure you've had conversations with your manager, and avoid coming off as threatening. Rather, help them understand what it is that frustrates you. You may be surprised with their answer.

In Aesop's fable, the goat wisely avoided the wolf in the grass below the cliff, but there are certainly times when we will be able to discern that the wolf is actually harmless—and that the grass he's standing on is indeed superior to our own. The moral of my story is that you should do your research in order to make the best possible decisions. Change always involves a bit of risk, but it sure feels better when the odds are in our favor.

With more than 10 years of experience in the recruitment field, Michelle Kruse knows what works and what doesn't when it comes to resumes. As the Editor and Content Manager at ResumeEdge, she helps job seekers position themselves for success. She regularly shares advice on resume writing and interviewing not only because it's her job, but because it's her passion. 

 

Filed Under: Interviewing | Job Search | Workplace Issues

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