The Pain of Job Divorce

Posted by Bernie Reifkind on September 21, 2011

For the majority, our job is like a family, our co-workers are like siblings.  But there comes a time when its best to break free.

Think about it.  Trying to land a job is akin to the fine art of dating, and working for a company is a lot like being married.  If the time comes, for better or worse, deciding to leave a company can be as wrenching or as relieving as a divorce.

We sometimes can become too cozy, even when we do not particularly like our jobs.  There is comfort in the daily routines.  The person at the next desk can be as close as a brother or sister. 

Banter by texting takes the place of neighborhood chitchat across the fence.

Supervisors, nice or nasty, dole out the approval or reproach once expected from parents.  After birth, a steady paycheck is the closest that many people come to security.

Team spirit can replace family pride.  Some people become so attached to their corporate family that they prefer it to their own family.  That’s because we share most of our waking hours with our colleagues and we enjoy their camaraderie. 

But no matter the quality of our relationships, our colleagues are not our true family. 

Powerfully seductive ties to the corporate family can make quitting an agonizing experience.  Other employees have a more amicable “divorce,” making their decision with less trepidation.  Either way job transitions can be a painful experience.

That is the reason that  many unhappy employees never get as far as leaving their company. 

Emotional inertia (pain, abandoment, worry, etc.) keeps us from scanning the job boards or contacting a recruitment firm.

Corporations are full of “tender traps” and “lies that bind” and they make employees reluctant to break free. The dynamic of human emotions of guilt and fear come in play.

Looking back on our lives we often regret the things that we did not do, not the things  that we have done.  Leaving a job in which it is not longer a fit, is a healthy risk.  And it is in most cases worth the pain.  And of course it’s not really a divorce. 

Fortune favors the bold. 

If an employee has spent at least 3- 5 years and is no longer happy maybe its time to take prudent career risks and begin to keep your eyes and ears open for a better opportunity. 

Begin to interview.  See what else is out there. Look for new horizons.

This does not imply that an employee should leave whenever the going should get rough.  Life and work is relentless.  In most cases it is prudent to stick it out during challenging times. 

Too many job changes can often make a resume look like Swiss cheese with too many holes or job changes.

But sometimes, employees have to pull the plug and take a risk to better their lives.  Never confuse this with a divorce.  Changing jobs is not about hurting anyone or falling out of love. 

Interviewing is not cheating on a loved one. Accepting a new job is not divorcing your family.

Remember that your colleagues and your employer are not and never will be your real family

I am Bernie Reifkind, CEO and founder of Premier Search, Inc.  I can be reached at 1(800) 801-1400 or email at  I welcome your phone call.

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