Headhunted: why I chose to stay put

A week ago I had an interesting phone call. Surprising? Not really. But…interesting. I turned down my previous role.

This significant experience was overwhelming, flattering, a little awkward and for a moment, confusing.

I have never been in a position before where a previous employer has offered an opportunity to return. This is a lesson I wish to document and reflect upon.

First of all, I don’t think I handled it particularly well. However, I believe I dealt with the situation the best I could at the time. I found it difficult to communicate my reasons for my choice; I wasn’t prepared. The phone call in itself was a sign that I’ve started to  make my mark….and I’ve only been in this industry (and profession) for nine months.

Secondly, let’s delve into why I chose I stay put.

  1. Stability – I wish to stay with an employer for at least a few years to allow enough time to follow through on projects, as well as capture opportunities available to diversify and develop my skills in an increasingly familiar and “safe” environment. I’ve been with my current employer for only five months. I don’t want to be switching to and fro between employers.
  2. Culture fit – I believe I fit in with my current employer’s culture better than my previous employer. I’ve well and truly started to develop a sense of belonging to the company and the team I work with.
  3. Potential Opportunities – I believe I will have more opportunities to be involved in continuous improvement projects; there are also less barriers to improving processes and information services and generally, getting things done. I am already committed to a few projects already. I’d like to follow through and see them completed.
  4. Support – Even though my former supervisor clearly supports me, I’ve support also from my current supervisor and colleagues. This is important to me. Especially when I’m in a profession that’s not quite understood by others. People, my internal customers, are beginning to trust me.
  5. People I liaise with every day – I work with some pretty cool people! They’re hard-working, knowledgeable, dedicated and there’s a sense of ‘taking care of each other’ and acknowledging others’ hard work. For example, a colleague of mine is working on a massive project at the moment and has been working mighty long hours. There hasn’t been a lot I can do to help but one day I brought in Milky Ways for his chocolate drawer.

Have I taken a gamble? I sure have. Certainly because I’m currently on contract with seven months to go. There’s no guarantee I’ll have a role at the end of it.

Have I made the right decision? I believe I have.

Why? Because all that’s at stake is worth me finding out my future with my current employer.

The hardest part of this situation was not deciding what to do, but how I could communicate my reasons to a man with an absolute heart of gold. I really do hope I haven’t burnt my bridges with someone who has become somewhat an informal mentor to me in the aviation industry. On my last day, he almost brought me to tears with the praise he had for me. No one had ever shown as much respect and gratitude for my work.

I had disappointed him, though he said he understood my reasons. I did enjoy working in my previous workplace, there’s a “family” atmosphere I was welcomed into, but it just makes sense to stay where I am at this stage.

If you’ve been in a similar situation before, how did you deal with it? I’d really like to hear others’ experiences. Do you have any advice?

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  1. I’m curious about this statement: “there are also less barriers to improving processes and information services and generally, getting things done. ”

    Do you think this has anything to do with how ‘old’ the companies are? Or is it more about organisational vision? Or maybe management attitude to change?

    1. Many thanks for you comment. I guess I could’ve elaborated a bit more. I think its a combination of all three, however the most evident would be how ‘old’ the companies are and their management attitudes. My previous employer is well established and traditional, so you can imagine attitudes and ‘ways of doing things’ are almost set in stone. My current employer is quite ‘young’ in comparison and therefore is better positioned to respond to industry changes. In the short time I’ve been with my current employer, I’ve already found a more receptive attitude towards continuous improvement.

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