Younger employees and Millennials (shout out to everyone with the Snake People plug in!) so often hear that “this isn’t their parents’ job market” and other frightening underemployment statistics. But here’s some good news! It may actually be a smart career decision to fluctuate in your employment history.
Here are some compelling reasons to have a dynamic track record instead of a mono-job history. Aim for 4 years max a one place, and then start looking for your next opportunity.
Rapidly Evolving Skill Sets
If you’re changing jobs every few years, you’re expanding and freshening up your skill set, learning new things, and just as important, acquiring resume-worthy evidence of your evolving job responsibilities. This is also good news for job seekers, because a job you wouldn’t have qualified for a few years ago may have shifted and revamped since its last tenant left.
Spending 4+ years in the same job is a great way to get comfortable with the in-house software, content management, sales procedures, etc—but even if your company isn’t constantly adopting new technology, your competitors might be. Whether you’re a systems administrator or occupy a more front-of-house role, stay on top of the technological options in your field so that if you change lanes, you’ll be able to keep up.
Dating analogies in the midst of job discussions generally creep me out, but in this case I think it’s a pretty good comparison. If you meet someone recently out of a 14-year relationship, are you more or less likely to go on another date with them than the person you meet the next night who’s had a series of stable but shorter-term relationships?
Put yourself in a hiring manager’s shoes—someone with 3 jobs in 10 years can come across as easier to train, more adaptable, and more motivated.
When you stay in one place for a long period of time, if you’re behind someone on the job ladder, there’s always a chance you won’t get to move up until they move up or move on. But if you’re making ambitious moves and expanding your horizons as you change jobs, you can evolve more quickly than you would have done by staying put.
As always, be thoughtful about all professional life choices—give each decision time, communicate honestly and in a timely manner with your employers, and make your best effort not to burn any bridges. You don’t want to come across as unfocused or irresponsible, and you certainly don’t want to leave a string of employers who think you’re a flight risk!
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