Too quickly, and too often the answer given to this question is “yes.” “Of course you have to move to get to the next level, make more money.” “Everyone knows home-growns are paid less.” True? Not necessarily, according to Monika Hamori, professor of Human Resource Management at the IE Business School in Madrid, Spain. In her July-August 2010 article for the Harvard Business Review, she discusses the myths and facts she deciphered in her eight years researching the global financial industry’s employment records using the data of a large international executive search firm.

There was a time, not so long ago, when Americans had a reputation for moving from organization to organization almost as if it was a cultural mandate. On the other hand, the company man was once an integral part of Japan’s business success, and then he wasn’t, and became one of the supposed causes of the economy’s downfall.

When I first entered the job market, I was told by my college career counselor, “You’ll probably stay with your first company only a year.” I had no idea as to the facts, so I believed her, until I was in my third year at my first company and had been promoted twice, given more money four times, and knew most of the key players in an enterprise of thousands. What was I doing wrong ... (i.e., right)? Next degree, another career counselor said, “You’ll probably stay in this job a year and a half and then you’ll have to move for a better position and more money.” Wake me up if this is a dream, but wasn’t I just promoted seven times in eight years and given significant raises each time? I left that organization because of regime change, not to a promotion. This continued throughout my careers. I stayed and was recognized, and rewarded. I didn’t fit the mold or follow the advice of the people supposedly in the know. Was I different from the norm or was I actually more typical, just not perpetuating the myth?

So, what are the facts? According to Hamori, the average executive stays with a company a little over three years. But, CEOs of some of the largest organizations in the US and Europe averaged only three organizations in their entire careers and 25% of them were lifers. I understand they are a small sample; however, it’s a significant one. And, maybe a group we should learn from.

Rather than dig through the research and bust or prove the myths, I’ll share with you some of the questions I ask executive coaching clients who are thinking about making a move.

What’s up and why now? Take your career pulse and ascertain what is going on. Ask yourself why is now different from a year ago, a week, or even an hour ago? Are you objectively or emotionally responding to a comment, event, or person?

What are the risks of staying and or leaving? There is the saying, “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” But is it? Do your homework. Talk with people who are not so happy with your suitor. Ask how the potential position became available. If the answer is they have had trouble filling it or that a series of people “haven’t worked out,” don’t be so cavalier to think it will be different with you. There is a systemic problem and you probably aren’t the solution.

Are you bored? I don’t know about you but boredom is very dangerous for me. I find myself making low percentage moves just for the exhilaration of change. That may be okay with home decorating or new restaurants, but it can be treacherous when it comes to career or relationships.

Whom do you trust? Don Fisher, the founder of Gap, Inc., constantly said to us (I worked for the organization as a senior executive), “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.” In context, he always meant why hire a stranger when you can work with a current employee. I ask a similar question—“why work with a new group, supervisor, or organization, when you know the pluses and minuses of the current?” If you can’t tell me some great reasons, maybe you need to do some more soul searching.

Do you have to move for money and promotion? This may prove to be truer in the short term. You’re wanted, so the potential employer has to pay, but will your trajectory remain? Do not join the crowd who fled for short-term gain only to find out three years later they are actually behind on salary and/or level.

There are many more questions. I regularly ask clients to make a deal maker and deal breaker list. These are facts, numbers, perceptions and referrals that must exist before you would take a position. On the other hand there may be things that are not negotiable—75% travel or relocating to another city are on many people‘s lists. If they are part of your “never” list, make sure you are not jilted off your position for a few bucks or a title.

(c) Jane Cranston.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Cranston is an executive career coach. She works with success-driven executives, managers and leaders to reach their potential, better manage their boss and staff, as well as develop a career strategy to reach goals and aspirations. Jane is the author of Great Job in Tough Times a step-by-step job search system. Click here to subscribe to her twice monthly Competitive Edge Report.