Before You Quit For That Next Job…

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My buddy*, Scott Monty, left his position at Ford.

Scott is a well-known entity. He changed the game for big brands and social media. This is a big deal. This is big news. He leaves Ford as being one of the global leads on social media. It’s not his title, but rather what he accomplished at this organization that is so staggering. Much has been said and written about Scott’s departure today (you can read the industry reaction to his choice right here: Ford’s Social Media Star, Scott Monty, Talks About Leaving–and Not Looking Back). The digital marketing space has a terrible turnover rate. We churn people from one agency to another. From one brand to another. LinkedIn has become a non-stop ringing phone of opportunities. It’s hard to resist the temptation to make the switch.

Wait… don’t switch so fast.

I see this all of the time. I hear it from brands, I hear it from my peers at agencies and I see it happen at Twist Image. Here’s a true story: I was recently attending a conference and ran into someone who had worked at Twist Image for a short period of time. Like others, they had started being approached for other opportunities a few days after they started working. They eventually decided to leave for another agency. It happened fast, they had not accumulated much experience, but left for the promise of a better title and a little more money. Their comment to me was this: ‘I made a big mistake.’ Upon reflection they realized that they didn’t have the experience or maturity for that role or that salary base and, since then, it’s been a career turnstile. You see this a lot on LinkedIn. People switching jobs every 12-18 months. It may appear to be a career ascent, but more often than not, it’s a bunch of lateral moves. That’s not the issue… that’s a professional and personal choice. The real issue is in looking at what was accomplished during that tenure.

Scotty Monty did a ton… did you?

An article I often reference on the state of employment in our industry comes from Fast Company. It’s called Generation Flux (and it was their cover story in January 2012): "What defines GenFlux is a mind-set that embraces instability, that tolerates–and even enjoys–recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions. Not everyone will join Generation Flux, but to be successful, businesses and individuals will have to work at it. This is no simple task. The vast bulk of our institutions–educational, corporate, political–are not built for flux. Few traditional career tactics train us for an era where the most important skill is the ability to acquire new skills." Bob Greenberg is a legend in the digital marketing space. He’s the CEO of R/GA (one of the world’s most awarded and respected digital marketing agencies in the world). Here’s a snippet from Generation Flux and what it has meant to building teams at R/GA: "GenFlux staffers are leaving at such a steady pace, sticking around for such short runs that Greenberg finds himself constantly replacing them, endlessly slotting one talented young person into another’s place. Many CEOs would react to this news with alarm: What are we doing wrong? Why can’t we keep our young talent? Greenberg talks about this intense transition with nonchalance. He’s not upset by it; he’s not fighting it; and he assumes this is the way life will be for the foreseeable future." Whether or not you buy into GenFlux – as a concept – is irrelevant. Greenberg’s statement is staggering: people are leaving at a steady pace and sticking around for short runs. Is that a good or bad? It depends. Scott Monty dedicated six years to Ford (some might not consider it so long, when considering the lifespan of a career). but look at what he accomplished. In theory, sticking with a job for only a year is equally acceptable, if what you accomplished matters. If there was a beginning, a middle and an end to that work.

Thinking about completion instead of what’s next. 

If you’re switching jobs (and it’s not because you’re miserable), my advice to many starting out is this: look at the legacy that you leave and not the job title or salary increase that you’re going to. Resumes, in Generation Flux, are organic. They’re alive and they grow online. Being able to demonstrate that you can see something through, and that what you did added value to a brand and grew their business is what matters. Scott Monty leaves Ford and the work that he accomplished (along with his team) in a much better place than the way he found it. It matters little how long he was there for. Who wins? Is it bad for Ford that Scott is leaving? Nope. Both brand and team members benefitted greatly from the experience. That, is what everyone should be hoping to accomplish in their own tenures. So, before looking to leave for the next bump in job title or salary, take a step back, think about the experience, think about what you have learned and gained. Think about how you can tell a better story about what that experience gave you, and then think about Scott Monty. When you leave, will the industry pay attention, take note and give you credit for accomplishing a bunch of things that truly mattered? Thing that moved the needle? Scott’s ascent in our industry should be noted, because he exemplifies a great work ethic.

If you’re thinking about leaving for a new job, instead of focusing on what you might accomplish next, why not reflect on if you accomplished anything worthy of a next step or new move?

*I don’t mean someone who I follow on Twitter (or someone who follows me back). I mean we’re friends. We speak. We see each other. We know about each others lives.