This is personal. While I wanted to write it ('I write therefore I think') I'm not necessarily so keen on you reading it.
(Here's how to do it well: a graceful statement showing how to move from one job to another.)
In my case, I'm leaving one job for several, and it's happening over an extended period. Had I been primarily motivated by money or by status, I'd certainly have stayed put.
Money first. Don't assume because it's not a motivator that I don't need it. I'm a borrower not a saver, and am still anxious about money most of the time. It's just that money doesn't go higher for me than the base 'food and shelter' level in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It's not an end in itself; my self-esteem is not at stake. That said, will I have food and shelter should I live to be 90? Will people close to me be adeqately provided for should I die at 50 (it happens)?
Status next. This is very easy for me. I'm just not bothered at all about titles or name plates above office doors. They're not a motivator – especially in a world where it's easy for an individual to express an identity outside their organisational role. Again, I recognise that my attitude can be self-defeating. I was surprised at how many times I was approached by head-hunters when I was the (interim) PR manager for a very well-known software company. Others were evidently drawn to the title; titles are magnets attracting attention, fame and fortune even. But still I'm not motivated – I suspect because of the ties that bind.
So what's my driving force? In a university, I'm surrounded by people who respect left-side of brain reason (and sometimes undervalue emotional factors). For me, decisions about the future have to be emotional and intuitive because the future is largely unknowable.
One factor is longevity. Six years in one role feels a long time for me (it's longer than I've worked for any other organisation). Organisations provide security and community; they should provide constant new challenges. But they can also constrain the spirit in ways that have people longing for retirement.
Then there's the question of size. We often cite numbers of employees as an indication of success (on the assumption that big is best). It sometimes is – but look what happened to the dinosaurs. Evolution suggests that smaller organisms were more adaptable in times of change.
Change is happening (it always has). Again, its effects are unpredictable, but I can point to some trends. The years of easy growth in mass higher education are coming to an end, but education and training will play an even more important role across a working lifetime. Technology is a factor – both in delivery and in challenging the legitimacy of organisations. That more than anything was the message in Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody.
I have form. I left my first PR consultancy job after five good years and spent the following ten as an independent practitioner. I'd joined a small, specialist independent – Aeberhard and Partners which became A Plus Group during my time there. Subsequently it was known as Brodeur, then Pleon and now it's being merged with Ketchum. I'm sure this growth strategy brought benefits, but I knew that I was better suited to the early phase of this business.
Now for two breakthrough moments. The first was the advice from someone close to me to stop looking for jobs and to start looking for work. Good advice in a world in which jobs are becoming scarce but work is always abundant.
The second was the search for role models. When I think of the people I admire occupying a similar space in the PR educational ecosystem, many of them operate outside of institutions and job titles. They have work, but not necessarily jobs. They comfortably operate across the boundaries between university education, consultancy, professional qualifications and training – and they write books (and blogs) too. I greatly admire (for what they do and for the way that they do it): Michael Bland, Paul Noble, David Phillips and Heather Yaxley (to name just a few, in alphabetical order).
This is a long preamble to stating that I'm leaving a full-time job at Leeds Metropolitan University for a part-time job at the much smaller University of Gloucestershire. For the university part of my week I'll be teaching and supporting undergradaute students; for the other part of my week I'll be educating professionals towards the CIPR Diploma qualification. There should be time for other unpredictable educational, consultancy or writing projects too.
Happy Independents Day!