The Clash’s 1982 hit “Should I Stay or Should I Go” is reminiscent of a theme often heard by JCS Career Coaches from their clients who are unhappy with their jobs and thinking about leaving. Sometimes, they cite such reasons as disliking co-workers or disagreeing with management, being unhappy about their schedule or the company’s location, or feeling unfulfilled.

Because there is a lot riding on the outcome, here are a few things we encourage people to consider before making that final decision.

Broaden your perspective. If your complaint is that you don’t like some of management’s policies, take a step back to assess them in the broader organizational context and not just how they might affect you personally.

Do you know the larger issues those policies are intended to address? Sometimes having that knowledge helps you better understand, and maybe even appreciate, where management is coming from and what goals they are trying to achieve.

Do a little self-analysis. If you are having conflict with co-workers, it is important to take a hard look at how much responsibility you might bear. Newton’s law of physics comes in handy for relationships, too: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of equal forces at play.

As in any relationship, each person involved contributes to the quality of the interpersonal dynamic. Though it isn’t easy, try to objectively observe some of your interactions with colleagues – how you respond and react, your tone, your body language.

And consider whether making a change in your approach might net a similar change in return. This is helpful even if you choose to leave because how you interact with people is something you take with you into the next job.

Examine your expectations. Are they realistic? You might prefer different work hours or a shorter commute, but are those things readily available in your industry, field of work, or region?

Is that enough incentive to start over in a new culture with new co-workers? Remember, the grass isn’t always greener. Maybe your first step is to ask your current employer whether there is an option to adjust your schedule or if there are opportunities to work remotely a few hours each week.

Define what you need. If you are feeling unfulfilled in your current position, identify specifically what is missing and what would help you feel more engaged and challenged. Once you are clear on what you are looking for, you will be in a better position to pursue it.

If you stay at your current company, ask your supervisor or management team if you can take on new tasks or responsibilities that align with your interests. It can help you feel more engaged in your job plus they will appreciate your initiative.

If you opt to look for a new job elsewhere, then you will have a gained a better sense of the direction you are seeking and you will be able to articulate that to a prospective employer.

Consider your circumstances. If you decide you want to leave your current position, don’t act on impulse or emotion; carefully consider your circumstances and options so you can plan accordingly. First of all, few people can afford to leave a job without a replacement. Even if you can afford to do that, prospective employers may assume from your resume that you were fired, and it may be difficult to explain in a job interview. As the adage goes, it is easier to find a job when you already have one.

To further highlight the importance of planning and timing, we offer a cautionary tale from one of our clients. His employer had paid for him to receive a high-level certification in their industry with the stipulation that he remain at the company for at least a year after completing the course. When he left that job, he discovered he had to repay the company several thousands of dollars under the agreement he had signed because he departed several weeks short of the end date.

Stay or go? There is no easy answer because either one comes with potential risks and rewards. As the Clash song says, “If I go there could be trouble, and if I stay it could be double.” Whatever you decide, just make sure you’ve considered all the important factors.

Whether you are new to the job market or a seasoned professional, the JCS Career Center helps you sharpen the tools you need to succeed. Our professional staff provide job seekers of all abilities and skill levels with customized services including career coaching, resume and cover letter services, interview preparation, job readiness training, vocational rehabilitation and job placement assistance.

For information, call 410-466-9200 or visit jcsbalt.org.