Should I stay or should I go?

Should I stay or should I go?

Author: Laura Mazzullo

As a specialist HR Recruiter, I speak with dozens of HR professionals each week and have been encountering a common occurrence: Many HR professionals struggle with identifying if they want to stay with their current employer or pursue external opportunities. The most common statement I hear is “I want to leave my current employer, but I feel so guilty about leaving.”

HR professionals are very loyal by the very nature of their job. They are the biggest advocates of their company’s culture, are passionate about employee engagement, employee retention and ensuring the career success of their employees. Therefore, it’s no surprise that they can feel incredibly guilty about the prospect of leaving their employer. I fear that these feelings of guilt are keeping HR pros from pursuing better opportunities for their career.

The good news is that there are many HR pros who have overcome these feelings of guilt, and have bravely pursued change elsewhere! Sure, at one point, these HR pros also may have felt guilty about leaving their employer…but they were able to work through those feelings to happily pursue and accept external opportunities that better suited them.

So, how did they do it? How were these HR pros able to resign from great jobs, where they feel super loyal, and bravely pursue opportunities elsewhere? I have reflected upon recent conversations I’ve had with HR pros who overcame feelings of guilt to pursue change externally.

Here are 3 things that I found that they ALL had in common:


They spent time asking themselves what they needed and wanted next for their career. They wrote these thoughts down. They held themselves accountable to these goals. They talked about their goals with family, friends and trusted advisors. They spent time thinking about what was missing with their current employer/culture, team/boss, role/career trajectory. They thought about the type of corporate cultures that best suited them. They considered what they needed to feel satisfied and engaged at work. HR pros are awesome at helping others, but sometimes forget to make time for themselves. These HR pros, who were brave enough to pursue change externally, prioritized themselves and made time to think about and document their own career goals.

Ability to identify present reality vs. future potential at work

Employers are getting much better at ‘selling’ their organization, and retention efforts have strengthened enormously over the last few years. Some HR pros feel pressured to stay by their internal bosses and internal politics, because they are ‘promised’ things in the future. However, the HR pros who were able to change jobs were able to identify what was truly happening now vs. what was being sold as a potential for them in the future. Some employers make promises of what will come in the future (a bonus, a promotion, a new learning opportunity…) but they don’t always come to fruition. How many of you have you heard “We’ll get you a bump in salary by end of year” or “A promotion will come in 6 months”, or “We’ll send you on that HR conference next year” or “We’ll eventually get you that additional resource”. These HR pros were able to evaluate the truth in these statements. Many of them realized that these statements were retention tools but were unlikely to happen in reality. This acknowledgement helped them to stay in the present moment, and be realistic about their future at their employer.

Ability to filter external opinions

Not only were these HR pros self-aware, they were also able to tune out the opinions of others in order to remain true to themselves. Every HR pro has encountered opinions about where they should be in their career from others. These HR pros were able to tune out external noise and really ensure they were honoring their own vision, goals and hopes for their career. Everyone defines their ideal corporate culture, role, boss and career trajectory differently from the next. These HR pros were able to identify what worked for them and honor their own goals. They knew what to tune out from the external voices to stay true to themselves.


Many of you in HR feel conflicted about making change. Some of you are ready, but are held back by feelings of guilt. I hope you take comfort in knowing that many other HR pros have been in the same boat as you. They were able to overcome those feelings of guilt and confusion by listening to themselves, identifying what they needed, and separating from internal pressures to stay. You can do it too!

Please share in the comments below! Are you an HR pro who was ever confused by the choice of staying and going? Were you ever held back by feelings of guilt? How did you overcome it? What helped you gain clarity? Were you happy to pursue change externally? Share your story and inspire others!

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