The other day I was watching Breaking Bad, which I believe is one of the smartest and best acted shows on television. The premise of the show is that Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher, contracts cancer and begins cooking methamphetamines to help with the cost of his treatment. After his cancer goes into remission, however, he continues to put himself ,and his family, in danger by staying in the business. The last episode that was on AMC, had his wife showing him the pile of money he had made (which was more than either of them could spend in 5 lifetimes) and she asked the question “When is enough, enough?”

First thing first, this is just a show. I do not endorse anything said or done on this show. This episode, however, did get me thinking. As a recruiter, I talk to people every day about looking for new opportunities. People consider switches for a number of reasons. I originally came from the agency world, and we would identify these reasons as “motivators”. People are motivated to make a change for a number of unrelated reasons. It is important to understand why people make a move to a different company.

There are six main reasons people change jobs. These reasons are:

  1. Money. What they are making today is not enough to pay the bills or have the things they want.
  2. They feel they need to be challenged and their skills are being underutilized. Usually these people feel they have more to offer and they are “underemployed”. They could also be looking for a new career.
  3. Disagreements with current management.
  4. Amount of time spent at work is not conducive to their lifestyle. They feel like they are working too much and would rather spend time with their family and doing things outside of work.
  5. Their commute to work is too far. They may even want to work remote.
  6. They have been laid off or fired and need to find another job.

I once worked as a sales person who sold new homes. I worked out of a trailer or a house and showed floor plans and model homes to potential customers. I worked every weekend and would often come in on my days off to make sales. I stayed in this business for much too long because of the money. I wasn’t having trouble paying the bills and I had all of the “toys”I wanted. I had plenty of money, but I was very unhappy. People called it the “golden handcuffs”. I was never laid off and I was consistently one of the top performers. When I did make the change, I can say that all of the other motivators were present. I actually took less money to make a change.

If you are a recruiter, know your candidates motivators inside and out so you can ensure that they will stay at their new company. If the single motivator is money (where they want to make more money), then you will find your candidate looking for a new job again in 6 months. Most likely there will be 2 or 3 motivators present.

If you are a candidate and money is your primary motivator, “When is enough, enough?” Are there other motivators other than money? Can you see yourself at this next company for 5 or more years? How about until you retire? Are there opportunities for advancement? How is the management? How is the company doing financially? If you are staying in a job strictly for the money then ask yourself “how much do I really need”. Every person’s answer is different, but happiness far outweighs unhappiness. Take a look at the whole picture and evaluate thoroughly when making a change.