Get a New Job or Get a Promotion?

January 9, 2010

If you’re trying to move up the career ladder, is it best to quit your job and get a new job with a new company or try and get a promotion where you work today?

A reader namd Tom left the comment below on the article about getting the promotion you deserve:

“I think this is a good article but wanted to add some experience to the table.  Me and my friend who have the same competency and work ethics graduated school at the same time.  He worked at the same company for 5 years and got promoted once; from a Tech I to a Tech II. 


I actually started working in the field about 2 years later than my friend did.  In 3 years I went from a Tech I (first job 6months), became a Tech II at my second job (1.5 year job), started as a Tech III and was promoted to a Engineer because my new job didn’t want to see me leave. 


Within 3 years of job hoping, I had moved twice as far as my friend did who worked for 5 years of dedication to one company.  To the day our competency in the field is the same.  So I’m opinion on the matter is that’s it twice as easy to get promoted by finding a higher level job than it is to get promoted in a company that already has you.  I believe it’s because companies won’t give anymore than they have to and if they know you’ll stay you’ll never get promoted.”

Tom’s experience is that you can move up the career ladder faster if you move from company to company.  I do know people that have landed pretty high profile jobs in their industry by frequently moving from company to company, always moving up in the responsibility and pay grade for each job.

On the other hand, I have a former co-worker that got a a big title by sticking with the same company.  When I first started working, she was a manager in the group I was part of.  It was a new product with a lot of growth potential in the company and the industry.  She grew along with the group and ended up landing a role with a lot of responsibility and a big fat paycheck. 

That type of position in the company was typically filled by someone who had worked there at least 10 years longer than she had.  So you could argue that she was able to get farther, faster by staying with one company and getting a huge promotion 10 years early.

I guess it really depends on your situation. Factors like what company you work for, what industry you’re in, and what skills you have all factor into which strategy is best for your career.  What have you found to be the best for you?  What strategies have worked, or failed, in your career?


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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5 Responses to Get a New Job or Get a Promotion?

  • Stephen

    Agree more on Kate, although multi-company experience is very important too. There’s something wrong with your applicant if his CV is cluttered with a lot of companies with work durations lesser than 6 months. But for me, since I’m inclined to build my own business, climbing the corporate ladder will not be my main objective in working for a particular company, rather the experience of working in such industry is more important.

  • Kate

    It is a situation by situation thing. However, as a manager I don’t even look at people’s resumes that job hop. I would rather reward a worker who is dedicated to the company while I help them to grow in their career. IMHO, people who constantly look for the better opportunity aren’t going to be giving me as much as someone who is looking to build a career at my company. Not to mention I will be stuck interviewing and hiring someone new in the next 6 months.

  • Kevin@OutOfYourRut

    I’ve seen it done both ways, and it really all depends on the company. If the people higher up the ladder like you, you can be promoted by staying right where you are–as long as the higer ups are moving up as well.

    The problem with that scenario and why I think it doesn’t work for so many people is that it relies mostly on the judgement and progress of others in front of you.

    By moving from company to company, not only do you gain experience in different organizations, but you also increase your exposure in that you meet and come to know many more people. I’ve been hired many times because someone in another organization knew me from a previous job. Employers seem to like that multi-company experience too.

    In a perfect world we’re all recognized and promoted on good performance at the company we start at. But it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes you’re so good in the job you’re at that the company doesn’t want to promote you because of the void that you’re promotion will create.

  • Craig

    It would be easier to get a promotion. If you know how your corporate structure works and you have been there for some time and have experience, if you have done a good job and can prove it you have a better chance at promotion.


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