A couple of generations ago, people would get hired out of college or high school expecting to stay with the same company until retirement. Today, that career approach is very much the exception rather than the rule.
Although millennials and people of other generations often change jobs for very good reasons, job hopping can sometimes have a detrimental effect on their career progression. For that reason, job seekers of all ages should follow some simple advice about changing jobs:
1. Before You Make a Move, Weigh the Pros and Cons
We all want to move forward in our careers, so it’s smart to stay attuned to emerging opportunities. That said, it is important to measure those opportunities against your current position to ensure you would be moving to a better situation, not just chasing a higher salary or more impressive title.
What should you pay attention to when weighing the pros and cons? A few different things.
First, find out whether the hiring company and the open position offer greater career development and growth opportunities for you. If you feel you’ve learned all you can from your current position and there is no further potential for professional or financial growth at your company, then it might be time to consider a new job.
Second, think about whether you’re passionate about the job you have now. We spend the majority of our lives working, so we should be happy doing what we do! If you are fulfilling your dreams at your current job, maybe you should sit tight for a while.
Third, evaluate your comfort level in your company culture. Do you enjoy working with your colleagues and manager? Do you respect the business leaders? Does the company culture align with your values? What about the new company you’re considering? Get a feel for its culture through online research, including reading posts by former and current employees.
Fourth, ask yourself if you are you prepared to leave a known for an unknown. Here’s an example of what I mean: I was recruited by three different firms while working with a company where I had several years of tenure. Although they were all good opportunities, I wasn’t willing to lose the seniority I had earned in my current position to start from scratch in a different company. I felt that I was already on the career path I wanted for myself.
Other things may weigh into your decision as well. Maybe you get an offer in a location that is more attractive to you than your current position, or perhaps you’re looking for more flexible hours or working conditions. The most important thing is not to rush in underinformed. Find out all you can about the new position and company, and then determine whether it aligns with your long-term career objectives.
2. Stay for at Least 3-5 Years When Possible
Employers want to know you are serious about making a difference within their organizations. They look for candidates they can be confident investing in — those who have demonstrated stability and the potential to achieve long-term results. If you’ve jumped jobs every year or two, employers may question whether you even know what you want.
Holding a position for a minimum of 3-5 years is ideal. This isn’t always possible — maybe an opportunity comes up that you just can’t turn down — but if that’s the case, make sure you have a solid explanation for the fast move.
At the absolute bare minimum, you should stay in a job for at least a year. Of course, that might not always be easy. Sometimes you despise your job and just want out. Be smart and try not to act impulsively when it comes to career decisions. Take a breath and remember how powerful your mind can be. In this situation, it can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
Make it your friend through some reprogramming. Remind yourself: “Okay, this is where I am. I just need to focus on the positives and stick it out until a better time.” Immerse yourself in the good parts of your job. Look for new opportunities within the company. Make your time there as pleasant as possible until the time is right and the ideal opportunity arises.
3. Don’t Stay for Too Long
On the other end of the spectrum, if you stay at a company too long and don’t feel challenged or see advancement, you might grow complacent and limit your opportunities for growth. Check in with yourself every now and then. Are you happy and thriving, or just stuck in a routine? Ask your supervisor what you can do to continue growing. If you’ve found your ideal fit, who knows? Maybe you’ll retire from that place!
Ariel Schur, LCSW, is CEO and founder of ABS Staffing Solutions.