CAD Manager's Q&A: Should I Quit My Job? Part 226 Jul, 2006 By: Robert Green
Should I Quit My Job? Part 2
I'm breaking tradition in this issue by continuing to answer the question posed in the last issue, “Should I quit my job?” If you haven't had a chance to read last week's newsletter, click here to get caught up.
Robert Green continues: In the last issue I argued that keeping your current job is really a function of whether you can make progress in your career or not. I stand by my answer, although my responses were principally targeted towards those in the private sector. This time, I thought it would be worthwhile to address government-sector employees.
For those in government employment, look at your situation with these things in mind:
Earning power. Government is mired in bureaucracy and enforced pay scales, so large merit raises and bonuses simply won't be forthcoming. For young, aggressive workers this reality sinks in slowly and sometimes with much frustration. If you view your employment as a longer term undertaking where job security and good benefits are more important than large annual raises, then you have the right perspective. If, on the other hand, you're more interested in raising your annual salary and moving along rapidly, then government employment is probably not for you. Make your career decisions accordingly.
It's what you learn, not just what you earn. If you're reasonably happy with your salary situation, then the question becomes whether you’re learning enough to stay at the job. There's an old adage that says, "Money isn't everything," and that's particularly good advice in technical fields like CAD management. After all, you may earn a great salary for a few years, but if you don't keep your technical skills current, you'll be unemployable in the private sector should you wish to move on. If you're learning good skills, remaining current and moving forward in your technical knowledge base and you're in a good situation, you may consider staying even if the money isn't as high as you'd like. On the other hand, if you're not learning much, it's probably time to move on.
Control and agility. Nobody ever accused government of moving too quickly. In fact terms such as "glacial" come to mind. I've spoken to too many CAD managers who complain of outdated software, antiquated hardware platforms and no budget to improve the situation. These CAD managers are frustrated by a central fact that they can't control how government acts or how quickly. If you're a take-charge person and can't stand not being able to control your work environment, then you’ll only be frustrated in government positions. I know this is a generalized and blunt response, but I stand by it. As I stated in last time, if you're so frustrated that you feel you can’t progress or control your own destiny, then you should probably move on.
Focus Your Efforts
My experience shows me that those CAD managers in government operations who are most successful are those who focus their efforts in areas they can control while not letting government bureaucracy bother them. The question really becomes what do you see is your challenge and where do you want your career to go? An honest assessment of these factors should tell you whether you'd whether you'll be happy in a government situation or not.