Over the past few years, there has been a lot of attention on the fact that today’s workforce is more mobile than it has ever been. Moving between companies and even industries has become the new normal in career advancement. It’s a trend that’s been sweeping through architecture industry, challenging studios and firms of all sizes to rethink the way they recruit, retain, and develop their top talent.

But sometimes this trend plays out in other way. On occasion, the candidate’s desire to move is outweighed by the feeling that there is still more to gain at the firm- especially if the firm is well-respected and offers many opportunities and resources for career development.

For candidates in this position, deciding what to do can be a challenge. One option may be to switch to a new team, office, or project within the same firm. But if a candidate chooses to stay, then where should he or she transfer to, and when is it really the time to just say enough is enough and leave?

Why Would a Candidate Choose to Stay?

Whether they dread being pigeon-holed into a certain role on a project team based on their skill set, they don’t get along with the people they work with, or they just don’t like the work itself, many candidates are looking for a change that will provide a refreshing restart to their career. Often, that change means moving to a new firm. But in some cases, there may be several reasons why a promising architect may want to stay on with his or her firm instead of leaving altogether. Usually, it comes down to one of three reasons:

  1. The architecture candidate is still young and early on in his or her career and appreciates the learning opportunities, exposure to resources, professional training, and networking that the firm has to offer
  2. Candidates who are bit more experienced may appreciate the firm’s compensation- especially if it is one of the few firms that offer a good performance-based incentive plan. Plus, he or she may have already built up a good track record of meeting or exceeding performance expectations.
  3. The candidate identifies with the firm, its core values and mission, and maybe even the work environment.

Another reason that goes along with any of the three mentioned above is that the firm has an internal method of communicating new opportunities/openings on a regular basis. Whenever these positives significantly outweigh the negatives of staying on, then looking for a transfer opportunity may be a better option.

So If You Choose to Stay, Where Should You Go?

If you find yourself in such a situation, then the right answer depends on a couple of factors. The first factor involves you. You need to consider things like your reasons for wanting a change, your skills and interests, your level of flexibility, and where you are in your career. The second factor involves the firm itself. What is the size and structure of the firm, and how many suitable opportunities are available to you?

In general, a mid-sized firm may only offer the opportunity to transfer to a team where you would have a totally different role, such as working in the firm’s marketing or business-related departments. If you work for a larger architecture firm, you’ll probably have more opportunities to transfer to other related departments, offices, regions, or teams specialising in different aspects of a given project.

Once you have decided on a new potential position, then the next step is to start asking questions and getting the information you need to make your pitch for a transfer. This includes finding out what the other department or team does, how it is managed, and who the key people in this section are. When you are ready to make your pitch, keep in mind that you’ll need to be able to clearly communicate why you want to change, and how this move will benefit both you and the firm.

Above all, keep an open mind. Make sure your next move is in line with who you are and what kind of experiences you are looking for to advance your career.

Sometimes your current firm may really be the right fit, even if you need a change of scenery.