The Company I Keep: Why Job-Hopping Isn't Necessary to Succeed
It used to be that jumping around to different companies was a telltale sign of a bad candidate. Training can be expensive and employers weren't interested in risking short-term talent. Many still don't. But an influx of younger generations into the workforce has brought about a change of opinion. Short tenures are suddenly in vogue.
There are a lot of people who now believe that changing jobs more frequently can actually help your career. The thinking goes: 1. Switching things up shows employers that you're not complacent or lazy; you're willing to take risks and learn new skills. 2. You'll have a much better shot at a higher salary when you apply for a new job, rather than waiting on a raise.
The math behind that latter point is hard to argue against. A 2014 Forbes article reports that "staying employed at the same company for over two years on average is going to make you earn less over your lifetime by about 50% or more." That's an alarming stat, especially for people just beginning their careers, and one that FastCo recently referenced again.
But do we really need to switch it up all the time to succeed? And is it really a new quandary?
To me, career advancement is about so much more than the number on your paycheck or the title on your business card. And deciding to leave or keep a job is a dilemma that's always existed, for all generations -- an age-old question -- should I stay or should I go?
No two scenarios are the same, and each person must decide for themselves.
But as someone who just celebrated 17 years with the same company, I wanted to offer a counter opinion to the job-hopping frenzy.
Here are a few things I've learned that have kept me happy -- and growing -- in one place.
1. Put yourself out there. You are your own best advocate, so don't be afraid to ask for what you want. Speak up about your goals and interests and defend your self-worth and interests. Even the best manager will be too busy to make it happen for you.
2. Align your goals with the needs of the business. Business challenges take priority in the workplace. If you want to move ahead, you have to be able to tie your own personal strengths and passions to a business need. Your skills and interests go nowhere if your company doesn't have a need for them.
3. Choose an industry that's changing and a company that's growing. Our business has transformed countless times since I started. Realities shift constantly, but our own size and structure has changed, too. We sold to a parent company. We merged with other agencies. We added more than 15 global offices. No two years have been alike, and new opportunities inevitably come from that.
4. Keep perspective. I've always believed that life is 10% what happens and 90% how you handle it. Our careers and relationships present ongoing challenges, and this year I'm reminding myself to celebrate the moment. Daily achievements are what make up the bigger picture. Don't underestimate them.
5. Love what you do. Finding joy in your job and the people you work with counts for a lot. Good leaders, advocates and mentors do, too. Through all of the change I've encountered, I've found that my career has always been about people and building relationships, and I've made some of my greatest friends through my company. Really, what more could you ask for?