From the time we start school as a child, our transitions in life are decided for us for many years. Each year we finish a grade in school, the next level has been predetermined. When we graduate from high school, even though most of us got to choose whether to go to college or get a job, we knew that it was time to move on.
After graduating from college, it was again assumed that we would begin the job search and transition into the world of the gainfully employed. Some were more successful than others, but we all knew the next step.
But once you get into that first job, learn the ropes a little and get a couple of years under your belt, you may begin wondering if this is the job for you. You watch people come and go and eventually start to question whether you should consider a move.
My father’s generation did things differently. He came home from the military, hired on at the local manufacturing company, and put in a forty-year career at one company.
The only “moving on” decision he had to make was when it was time to retire. In many companies, that was decided for you.
It’s different these days. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median employee tenure in 2012 was 4.6 years. People just don’t stay in one job for their entire career like they did years ago.
How do you know when leaving your job is right?
Most people start their careers knowing they probably won’t retire at that company. They know there’s a decent chance that company won’t even be in business in a decade. Such is the amoeba-like nature of businesses these days. So how do you know when to brush up the resume, call a recruiter and start the job search activity?
No Challenge. If you find you’re doing the same thing and not being challenged, it may be time to move on. If you find that you’re so good at what you are doing that it’s almost too easy, you may not be challenged enough.
No growth. Once you realize that you’re not being challenged, it may be that you’ve just been serving in the same role too long. Talk to your supervisor about growth opportunities. Growth doesn’t always meant promotion. It may be that you stay in your same role and perform additional duties that challenge you and help you grow professionally.
Too often, people associate growth with promotion. And too often, the people who get the promotion find that they’re either in way over their heads, or they moved to a position so radically different that it isn’t a fit. They may be making more money and have a little more status in the company, but they’re more miserable than when they were unchallenged.
Inconsistent values. No matter how much you love what you do, if the company has values that are inconsistent with your own, it may be difficult to reconcile that for the long term. Whether those differences are ethical or philosophical, the less aligned they are with your own, the more it may be a hint that it is time to move on.
This is not your father’s career. (This is a take-off of a famous car ad from the 1980s, by the way). We do things differently nowadays. Few people stay at one job for the duration of their career. Consumer’s needs change, causing markets to change, causing companies’ needs to change, causing jobs and working roles to change.
Complacency is a bad thing. Everyone needs to keep their eyes open and know when it is time to move on.
If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com
As always, I welcome your questions and comments.