Should I stay or should I go? Either way, community is key

cover image - should I stayLots that’s great about this book, not least of which that it was written at the same writer’s retreat that I attend (and that included among the list of possible careers is “writing retreat host in rural, VA!”). I really love that the book is designed to be read over five lunch hours – a perfect length for a professionally-oriented piece.  She even stops the flow of the book to exhort the reader to eat (mindfully), since this is a after all a lunch break!!


While I have to confess that at times the style and tone of the book are a bit off-putting, I do simply adore the Stay or Go? Conceit, because it entails an aspect of agency in job-crafting that is seldom discussed in career conversations.


As with the popular Love it or List It style of home makeover show, the idea here is that you have choices when it comes to your career: You can either invest in renovating your job, bringing it up to date and aligning it with your current abilities, needs, and expectations, or you can start the process of looking for another one. The author did both over the course of writing this book, so she knows what she is talking about when she says “yes-and!  and both!!!” in response to her own question.


To stay

As discussed in this Harvard Business Review article by Amy Wrzesniewski, Justin M. Berg, and Jane E. Dutton, a growing body of research suggests that an exercise called “job crafting” can be a powerful tool for reenergizing and reimagining your work life.

[job crafting] involves redefining your job to incorporate your motives, strengths, and passions. The exercise prompts you to visualize the job, map its elements, and reorganize them to better suit you.

The practice involves looking closely at the tasks performed, the nature or extent of your interactions with other people, and reframing part or whole – and this can happen in stages: maybe starting with reframing just for yourself,  and then eventually with your colleagues, in conversation with your employer.


This jobcrafting exercise may be a particularly important one for linguists on the job because often – and especially when we work with managers who are not linguists, which is typical – there could be more of a linguistic lens that we would want to bring to our work.   But is is only after you have been on the job a while and have earned the trust and respect of your colleagues and team, that you can start to find whether there is room to push for changes, such as adding a research component, a newsletter or blog series, or active mentoring. All of these are things that I have asked for in the course of my own jobcrafting, as they are things that help me bring more linguistics into the work that I do.


Ideally, you are working with a supervisor who will allow you scale back on other aspects of the job that are less suited to your strengths as you add others which are, but jobcrafting is a process, the course of which does not always run smooth. There may be an initial period in which you have more on your plate, until a way can be found to help you have less, but usually, adding in things that make you happier is worth the (hopefully temporary) discomfort.


…..or not to stay

But/and when and if it isn’t, or if you have an employer who isn’t interested in helping you find more satisfaction in your work, well, then maybe it is time to think about what you want to try next!!


Here at the Career Linguist blog you can find many resources for tackling this side of things, including:


Community is Key

Whether you are staying or going, your community are your best resource as you navigate this process of career orienteering. If you would like to experience the support of a community of career linguists, come on over to check out our mighty group over on the CL Mighty Network. People come to this community in career transition and to get support with emergent job crafting. It’s a both-and kinda place!  If you aren’t sure where to start, join us for a work session to get a sense for how we work together (and we do literally work together during these sessions, so come with a task to work on!!)

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