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How should one decide whether to stay in a job that offers career advancement and good salary, but that otherwise is a bad environment and where the company doesn't seem poised to succeed long term? What are the main factors involved in the decision?

Has anyone had experiences like this where they stayed at a company they didn't like, or a 'sinking ship', because of money or the opportunity to improve their resume. Did it work out?

Secondary question - how important is it to seek a new employer after 15 years at the same company. After 15 years at the same company, even with job advancement, are you not considered 'stale' by other employers who may fear you would have difficult adapting to new environments?


Personal context:

I have worked at the same 200-person company for 15 years, the last 5 of which I've held various senior exec roles. I'm the CEO's right hand man. He is ready to sell the company and if successful would like me to take over as General Manager (GM) reporting to the acquiring company, and has even given me a substantial retention bonus worth about a year's salary just for sticking around another 18 months to help him see it through.

My career goal is to be a GM, and certainly the money would be great, so on paper this sounds fantastic. However:

  • I fear that being at the same small company longer than 15 years, even if moving on to a GM role, risks stunting my personal growth and may make me less employable than demonstrating that I can succeed at a new company

  • in recent years I've begun to really dislike the company, and feel it is a sinking ship. We've had multiple rounds of layoffs and cost cutting in preparation for sale. No innovation in the service we offer for years. The market is commoditized. Many of the good people have left the company. I have a difficult relationship with several of my peers and have conflict regularly. My boss, although well meaning, is very overbearing and I don't enjoy our interactions. I am very burnt out.

I have a job offer from another company - new field, new role as "mini GM" of 15 person unit, not the same as running a 200 person company but at least it's in the same line of work. Similar salary but no retention bonus of course. And although I'm sure this company will have its problems too, having met their team I believe I will fit in better with them. At a minimum it will be variety to show on my resume. However, I do feel like I may be missing a significant career opportunity by jumping ship.

  • Seems like the main factor it what you actually want to do with your career. Choose the one that seems more interesting, helps you learn new things and most importantly makes you happy. – DarkCygnus Aug 30 '17 at 20:07
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There are a lot of factors that are personal to you that will be out of scope for this site. We can't know your ability to adapt to new environments, how important the retention bonus would be to you in the long run, whether your hunch about a better fit is correct, etc. These and many more aspects are completely personal to you and should be discussed with those closest to you.

Focusing on the aspect of "Remain in a role I want with a company I don't care for VS take a slight step back in role and go with another company" I am of the firm belief that life is too short to be stuck in a bad environment. If you can't change the company culture then it's best for you in the long run to find another company. Be an active agent in ensuring that you enjoy everyday of your life. Staying in a rotten environment works against that.

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