My parents were appalled at the number of times I changed jobs in my first ten years out of college. They were from a generation where workers got into a good company, worked there for twenty-five years, and retired with a decent pension. Back then, no one paid for health insurance and your profession was almost less important than the company you worked for.
They weren’t ready for my generation of workers, and to be fair, I was a bit ahead of my time. In a career that now spans more than 20 years, I seldom worked for a company I wanted to be tied to for more than a couple years. I was always focused on my next move, what more I could do after I mastered this position. Making a noticeable contribution to the bottom line of the organization drove me forward, always. All of those steps, and sometimes mis-steps, in trying to propel my career forward gave me a unique perspective on management issues. Now, I work with managers to identify and harness the energy of such ambitious employees, recognizing their value — but that’s another story.
I say, if you are unhappy or tired of your current career, why not branch out into something different?
When deciding whether or not to hire me to write their resumes, many of my prospective clients ask if I can help them refocus their resumes to change industries or professions. Most go into an elaborate justification of their decision to make this change. Then, they seem to ask my permission, as if applying for a job that is substantively different from the one you do now is not okay. I say, if you are unhappy or tired of your current career, why not branch out into something different? After a reasonable tenure in one job, you naturally acquire new skills and experience. There is no reason not to take those new qualifications and see where you can go with them. In some cases, my clients use their new resumes to apply to different departments within the same company.
Are These the Bad Employees?
As a management consultant, I am sympathetic to managers who want to keep their turnover rate low. When people move in and out of your business, the overall workflow is disrupted. It is hard to build an efficient team with a lot of turnover, and constant revolving-door hiring costs a company money. Employees are people, though, and they are naturally curious and driven to improve themselves and their situations. When managers cannot offer an environment that makes employees feel fulfilled, they are going to leave. Its as natural as children growing up and leaving home.
In the last month, I’ve written resumes for several people with only one past employer. These are people who stayed with the same company for 12, 15, 19 years. One was being laid off because the company was closing and the owner retiring. The others just decided they wanted to try something else.
I’ve watched bosses hire and fire based on the needs of the company without much regard for the individuals.
When building a career, the average employee stays in one job 2-4 years before moving on. This seems to be the current sign of job stability. Loyalty is an important trait in an employee, but you have to know what it really means. Ultimately, your first responsibility is to your own career growth. I’ve watched bosses hire and fire based on the needs of the company without much regard for the individuals. It usually creates some emotional situations, but their goals are clear — the preservation and proliferation of the business. I’ve seen some of those same bosses, who seemed fully entrenched in the company, leave to pursue other opportunities.
Loyalty is an admirable quality, and as long as you follow accepted conventions for securing a new job and exiting your current employer, no one can fault you. If you are momentarily unhappy in your job, there is no reason not to look around for other options. Take stock of the skills you have to offer, which ones bring you the most satisfaction, and where you want to be. You have permission to pivot!