The Importance of Knowing your Role—and When to Leave It
There’s a statistic that the average person stays at each of his/her jobs for 4.4 years. And there’s another one that says for 91 percent of Millennials, this average job duration is cut down to less than three years. And according to Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economist, this isn’t such a bad idea.
In a Business Insider article, he says:
“Approach your career ambitions the same way you approached your romantic ambitions at college. Sure, you’re looking for ‘The One,’ but the only way to find that is by going on a lot of dates. And you should think about your first job as a good first date. Try it out. If you like it, stick around for another year. But if not, ask another employer out. And keep playing the field until you’ve found the job you want to stay with.
This pattern of hopping between jobs while young, before settling down, is in remarkably common. And it makes sense, too. Romantic success never follows from trying to improve your partner; it follows from moving on and finding a better match. The same is true in the world of work.
Indeed, economic research shows that most large pay gains come not from your boss promoting you, but rather from moving to a job that’s a better fit, with a different employer.”
If we take Wolfers advice, then 1) it’s important to first know and understand your role within a company, which then 2) will help you know and understand when it’s time to jump ship. So, just how do we do this?
Take some to seriously evaluate the position you currently hold. How many years have you worked there? Has there been any career development or forward progression? Any promotions, added skills or expertise?
If you’re able to access this information, look at the original job posting (description) you applied to. Do the duties, requirements and even future promises (as far as pay increases, promotions, etc. if offered) reflect the actual role? Are you really responsible for XYZ assignments or was this simply added as a “filler” to enhance the job description?
Setting aside time to really evaluate what you do and how that impacts (or not) the company you work for is important to understanding the value you and your role have with that organization. Are you a key player on your team? If not, does the role provide opportunities for you to advance toward this?
Make an assessment of your goals and motivations. What were the initial reasons you applied for this position? What did you hope to gain from joining this company, and have you achieved those goals? If not, do you see plausible potential that you can and will?
You also need to assess your passions at this point. Has anything changed since working in this position? Have you discovered new passions and desires you’d like to pursue, and if so, will staying in your current position and with your current employer help guide you down those paths? Likewise, maybe as you’ve worked in this role over time you have discovered you don’t actually like XYZ like you initially assumed. Maybe after writing that 100th press release, your dreams of running your own PR firm have fizzled and you’ve realized PR is not truly your passion. Or perhaps you don’t enjoy recruiting as much as you’d hoped to.
Assessing your current stance in relation to where you planned to be at this point and your motivations behind this will also help clarify whether or not your current position is truly benefiting your future.
After fully understanding your current role, value within your company, and its possible benefits and setbacks for your future, it’s time to take action. So many people become complacent in their careers and on the job. If after evaluating your overall situation you discover that it’s actually beneficial to step out of your current role—step out of it. Don’t be afraid to follow after what your heart truly desires (after you’ve secured a new position, of course).
How miserable to know that your current position doesn’t allow you to utilize your full potential, yet you’ll allow fear to keep you from pursuing your true passions? Don’t become complacent in your career endeavors and settle for a role that doesn’t offer advancement opportunities or doesn’t ultimately steer you in the direction of accomplishing your future goals.